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: Food Insecurity: In a Country Ripe With Overabundance Far too Many Have too Little

Food Insecurity: In a Country Ripe With Overabundance Far too Many Have too Little

Managing Editor

Millions of children in the United States went to bed hungry last night. In a country that prides itself on being the land of the plenty, there are certainly plenty who don't have enough to eat. Despite a growing problem with obesity in this country, we have an even more devastating problem with food insecurity.

 

September is Hunger Action Month. During this month, the charity Feeding America is asking us all to help raise awareness of hunger in our communities and work to further its mission to end hunger in the United States.

 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  if someone (or a family) is termed food insecure it means that "at times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food." The USDA reports that in 2012, 14.5 percent (17.6 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some point. That means that during the year, nearly 15 percent of people who live inthiscountry, not a third-world country in some far off land that you can put out of your mind, didn't have enough to eat, weren't sure where their next meal might come from, and didn't have enough money to pay for the food that they needed.

 

Food Insecurity is Widespread

 

Food insecurity is not only in poor, urban areas of the country. Nor does food insecurity exist primarily in very rural areas where access to grocery stores is limited. According to Feeding America, there are people living with food insecurity ineverycounty in the country, which means that this problem touches all of us. New Mexico and Washington, D.C., have the highest numbers, but the top 5 states for food insecurity also include Arizona, Oregon, and Georgia, suggesting that the problem of food insecurity knows no boundaries and is not concentrated in one area or restricted to a certain demographic.

 

Food Insecurity and Food Desert Go Hand in Hand

 

Interestingly, many areas that are considered food insecure also have a high obesity rate, which seems contradictory. However, an equally significant problem we have in this country is one of food deserts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food deserts are "areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet." And when you live in a food desert, it's hard to make healthy choices because you don't have healthy options. And when you don't have healthy options you eat food that's unhealthy, which can lead to obesity. The USDA says that about 2.3 million people live more than a mile away from a grocery store and do not have a car. Food deserts breed food insecurity.   

 

How to Raise Awareness

 

Hunger Action Month aims to shed light on the issue of food insecurity by encouraging all of us to participate in a variety of activities. Some ideas:

 

  • Wear orange (the official color of Hunger Action Month) or change your Facebook or Twitter profile to orange to show your support.
  • Write to your congressional representatives asking them to support local food banks. Feeding American has a goal of getting every member of Congress to visit a food bank this year.
  • Volunteer at a food bank.
  • Take the S.N.A.P. challenge. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allots $4.50 a day per person for food. Try to live on this budget to see what it's like to have to rely on such a small amount to feed yourself or your family.

 

What will you do to help increase awareness of the problems of food insecurity and food deserts in our country? Participate in this month's efforts using the hashtag #HungerActionMonth and start to make a difference-even if it's small.

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