Information about Food Insecurity in the US and What You Can Do
If you've been anywhere on our website or been to a food bank recently, you've likely heard the term food insecurity. And, like many others, you might have wondered what food insecurity is, if it's different than hunger and a number of other questions.
We're here to answer them, because the first step to solving the food insecurity problem in the US is knowing what the problem is. Below you'll find answers to a number of questions as well as an entire section detailing what you can do to make an impact.
What is food insecurity?
To begin, we'll give the textbook definition of food insecurity.
"food insecurity: a measure that describes a household’s inability to consistently provide a sufficient quantity of nutritious food for every person within it to live an active, healthy life."
What food insecurity means in context, though, is whether or not a household has access to enough nutritious food most of the time. Those living in food-insecure households may have enough to eat one month and not the next. They might need to sacrifice eating nutritious food in order to pay medical bills or might sacrifice heating their home in order to feed their family. In the United States currently, 1 in 9 people struggle with hunger (Source: Feeding America).
How is food insecurity measured?
Whether or not a household is food insecure is a distinction put in place by the government to determine if that household qualifies for various programs that provide them with nutritious food. It is measured by considering income, household size, ages of those in the household, access to charitable food programs and cost of living in their community.
Based on these different factors, the government determines if a household is food insecure and thus if they qualify for federal nutrition assistance. So, while food insecurity can't be given an exact measure, there are different characteristics that can be used to assess a household's level of food security.
What's the difference between food insecurity and hunger?
The truth is, they're more similar than they are different. Hunger is the ongoing inability to eat enough healthy food; food insecurity measures hunger on the household level. Food insecurity is essentially a term that the government and many organizations use to quantify hunger within a household. If you have more questions, you can learn more about hunger in America in this blog post.
Why does nutrition matter in food insecurity?
It's a popular idea that any food is good food when you're hungry, but this is simply a myth. While many who are hungry, especially parents with younger children, have to buy unhealthy food when they cannot afford anything else, a diet full of fatty, sugary processed and fast foods is not viable.
Eating these unhealthy foods regularly results in children not getting the nutrients they need to grow and develop, which is why organizations distinguish that a lack of access to nutritious food is a component of both hunger and food insecurity.
What can you do?
We know what it's like to feel like you can't do anything to help the millions of children living in food-insecure households in America—that feeling is why That's Caring was founded. We partner with a number of organizations that have also made it their mission to help those living in food-insecure households.
To get started, you can always donate supplies, money or simply volunteer your time at any of the food banks above or the ones in your community. There is no food bank that will turn down a donation or a volunteer.
If you want to get more people involved, any business or organization can help make a difference. If you want to have an outing, a bonding activity, a family event or something similar, you can do any of the below things and your impact will be felt.
- Volunteering together at a food bank as a company outing
- Having a food drive
- Hosting a fundraiser
- Donating a portion of proceeds on certain items or on certain dates
Additionally, you can buy from companies and organizations that are helping solve hunger. That's Caring is not the only organization who recognizes the severity of the hunger problem in America, and you can find all sorts of products for sale whose proceeds go toward solving hunger. If you shop smart, you can make an impact.
Where can I learn more?
The information in the article comes from Feeding America, and on their website, you'll find some of the most reliable, up-to-date and accurate information about food insecurity in America as well as numerous ways you can help. You can also see more ways to get involved in this blog post.
However you choose to help, know that your actions are improving the lives of those struggling with hunger in your community.
We'd like to thank Feeding America for not only much of the information in this blog, but also for the incredible work they do. You can learn more about them at feedingamerica.org.