Food Insecurity: Not a Single Issue
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household. Data from the USDA shows that an estimated 11.1% of U.S. households were food insecure at least sometime during the year 2018, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. That is down from 11.8% in 2017 and from a peak of 14.9% in 2011. The prevalence of very low food security was 4.3% in 2018. Based on data from Feeding America, the Overall and Child Food Insecurity rate in Franklin County for 2017 was at 14.8% which equates to 9,470 people with food insecurities.
Food insecurity is a complex problem. Many people do not have the resources to meet their basic needs while also facing challenges which increase a family’s risk of food insecurity. Families can be impacted by multiple life issues such as lack of affordable housing, social isolation, chronic or acute health problems, high medical costs, and low wages. Taken together, these issues are important social determinants of health defined as the conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality of life outcomes and risks. Effective responses to food insecurity must address the overlapping challenges posed by the social determinants of health.
Though food insecurity is closely related to poverty, not all people living below the poverty line experience food insecurity and people living above the poverty line can experience food insecurity. Food insecurity does not have a face so there may be people in your daily lives that have at some point lived with food insecurities. Living with food insecurity is not a choice made by most people it’s an unfortunate situation that sometimes cannot be avoided due to the income-based guidelines that determines if one can receive assistance with purchasing food. Living with food insecurities can lead to the onset of chronic diseases due to the fact that those with food insecurities lean on more affordable foods with less nutritional value such as processed foods, and fast foods and in some cases the adult in the family may be skipping meals because they are only concerned or feel as if they can only afford to feed their kids/family. No one deserves to be hungry and no one should have to choose if they are going to eat or pay their bills.
To aid with food insecurity N.C. Cooperative Extension offers the program More In My Basket (MIMB). MIMB provides outreach for the Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP) in North Carolina through education about program eligibility, program benefits, and resources to stretch limited resources. Individual assistance is provided to help people apply for SNAP and expand their food budget. The goal of this program is to increase SNAP participation through education and minimizing barriers to participation. If you or anyone that you know would like to participate in MIMB please contact Dominque Simon at 919-496-3344. Let’s do all that we can to prevent food insecurities. For more information, contact Dominque Simon, firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-496-3344.
Sources: Hunger & Health/Feeding America, Tableau Public, United States Department of Agriculture