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
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
Food Insecurity and Food Desert Go Hand in
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
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
- 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.