We always have an awesome time in the Cone Zone with Something to Eat™, packing meals, dancing to the music, and having a great experience bringing communities together. Not only do these meals help out our fellow neighbor but it also allows us to focus on the important issues facing our world today including one of the biggest: food insecurity.
What is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity is “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food.” It is often associated with hunger but the two are distinct. Hunger is an individual level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity.
Why is it important?
An estimated 42 million Americans suffer from food insecurity. Of that number, 13 million are children. At a glance that may not seem like much, but those numbers represent families who aren’t getting enough food to eat on a regular basis. And these needs became even more critical during the 2020 global pandemic. Many people were food insecure or at risk of food insecurity before COVID-19 and are facing greater hardship since COVID-19.
- 1 in 8 Americans suffer from food insecurity.
- 1 and 6 children within American households suffer from food insecurity.
USDA estimated Food Security for 2021
What does it look like?
Food insecurity appears different than what most might imagine. It’s a complex problem that does not appear in isolation, intertwined with issues like affordable housing, healthcare, and lower wages. A family suffering from food insecurity is unable to meet all the basic needs of everyday life and may be struggling to stay afloat. It’s important to know that you can’t always tell at a glance who is going without food. For instance, sufferers can be above or below the poverty line. There are a number of factors that can cause insecurity such as the sudden loss of a family member or caring for a sick child. Because of this, food insecurity can be a silent struggle, leaving many to suffer in isolation, shame or embarrassment.
Who does it affect the most?
Children facing food insecurity are more likely to have health problems such as anemia and asthma and are more likely to struggle in school.
Rising housing and health care costs primarily cause seniors to face food insecurity as they rely on fixed incomes or social security to make ends meet. In addition, some seniors lack the mobility to travel or live alone, unable to receive assistance with their food needs.
Rural communities experience food insecurity at higher rates due to the lack of available resources in more remote areas. The closest food pantry may be hours away in some places. This, combined with the potential for very little employment opportunities in low wage industries, means that rural communities are left to fend for themselves.
Food insecurity affects everyone
Food insecurity goes far beyond hunger of individuals. It takes a toll on the greater community as well. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are greatly reduced by having a healthy, sustainable diet. However, lacking access to nutritious food means higher doctor bills and more hospital visits which, in turn, costs employers more in the form of absent employees who are unable to work. This applies to schools as well. Students unable to attend class perform poorly which can lead to lowered school funding. And food-insecure children are at a greater risk of physical, emotional and cognitive delays and development. Ultimately, we are in a system that is interconnected. Helping end food insecurity benefits us all.
What can you do?
Join the fight to end food insecurity! There are a number of different ways you can help out. Host a Cone Zone party and bring your community together to join the cause. You can also donate your time by volunteering or help fund the fight. Every little bit helps and all efforts are greatly appreciated.