In a nation where grocery stores are filled with aisles of food and fast food joints are at the corner of nearly every intersection, hunger and food insecurity seem like an issue from the bygone era. How could it possibly exist in this day and age? Although rising obesity rates point in this direction, approximately 14.3 million US households dealt with some form of food insecurity in the last year.
According to Healthypeople.gov, food insecurity is defined as “the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources.” It also includes a lack of access to healthy foods necessary for the growth and development of the human body.
For households faced with the choice of paying the bills or shopping for food, the choice is clear. Paying the bills comes first. Food can wait.
Despite living in a country with a surplus of food, one’s socioeconomic status restricts whether or not one can access healthy food.
According to Generosity.com, 325,940 Philadelphians struggle with food insecurity. That is 21 percent of the population. Feeding America ranks Philadelphia as 10th in the nation with the highest number of food-insecure individuals.
The reality is that its food insecurity can strike anyone in our community. It can affect our neighbors, classmates, our firefighters, our teachers, our colleagues, etc.
Even if there is leftover money for grocery shopping, the question becomes “What can I buy with this money?” Typically, there is very little correlation between affordable and healthy foods.
The root of food insecurity in America is two-fold. First is the lack of affordable nutritious foods. Across the country, the prices of low volume healthy foods are higher than the prices of high volume junk food.
Second is the presence of “food deserts” where there is no access to nutritious foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables. Food deserts typically occur in low-income neighborhoods where there are no large grocery stores. Unless residents want to drive or take public transit to grocery stores outside the city limits, their only options are convenience or dollar stores for grocery shopping. Local examples of food deserts include Chester, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey.
How you can help
- Double your grocery list. The next time you are at a grocery store, buy two of each item. Take one for yourself and donate the extra to a local food bank.
- Get involved with the Cabrini Food Recovery network, an on-campus organization that conserves leftover soup from the Cafe and takes it to local food pantries.
- Advocate for those struggling with food insecurity. Currently, the government is looking to cut funding towards food stamp programs, such as the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program. (SNAP) Write a letter or call your local representative. Tell Congress: Protect SNAP!
- Volunteer at a local food bank or pantry. Currently, Cabrini’s Wolfington Center has a volunteer partnership with Martha’s Choice in Norristown.
If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
To find a local food pantry in your area, visit www.ampleharvest.org/find-pantry/
Are you a student? Contact Carmel-Jo Madonna at email@example.com or visit Grace Hall Room 150.