The Problem of Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity

Alice is a single mother. She depends on the assistance of family members or neighbors to help her take care of her three small children. Times become difficult during the summer, when the children no longer receive free lunches at school. Then Alice must skip meals and serve very small portions to feed her family. She waters down the soup and serves cereal or ramen noodles for dinner to save money.

Since losing his job, Bill has sold or pawned furniture and other possessions to buy food. When he falls sick, he does not fill prescriptions or he cuts back on medication because of the cost. At the end of the month, he cannot pay the bills, so he goes dumpster diving to find leftovers.

Alice and Bill represent 1 in 6 people in the United States, who struggle to get enough to eat.

Food insecurity exists in every community in our country, even here in Chester County, the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania.

Facts about Poverty and Hunger in America

Even in the world’s greatest food-producing nation, children and adults face poverty and hunger in every county across America. In 2017:

  • 40 million people struggled with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children.
  • A household that is food insecure has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.
  • Households with children were more likely to be food insecure than those without children.
  • 58% of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the major federal food assistance program — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps); the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (often called WIC).

Feeding Hunger in America Blog

Why is fighting food insecurity important?

Food insecurity has numerous health repercussions. Lacking the right kinds of food can affect a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement, and future economic prosperity. It can cause the elderly to struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, and depression. Food insecurity is also closely associated with obesity because more nutritious food often costs more. Simple carbs and starches, which can be fattening, are much cheaper than fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole grains.

How does food insecurity affect children?

We are very aware of the need for a regular,  healthy diet for all members of the families who come to the Cupboard.  We are pleased to provide extra food to families with school-aged children during three summer months when school meals are not available.

For children being food insecure can significantly impact early development, cognitive development,  overall health, and emotional wellbeing, and lead to behavioral problems, as well as poor attentional skills and low achievement in school. Our teachers report an increase in the number of students who regularly come to school hungry.

How does food insecurity affect seniors?

You can learn more about food insecurity and seniors at the Aging in Place website of the National Council for Aging Care.

How does food insecurity affect college students?

We are very aware that a surprising number of college students experience food insecurity along with housing insecurity.

We are happy to serve over 100 local college students as clients.  We know that when students are food insecure they are less healthy, more likely to have lower GPA’s and drop out at a higher rate than comparable non-food-insecure peers. By providing them with the food they need we are helping these talented young people with such potential succeed and move on to live a productive life. Click here to learn more.

A Humbling Experience

Read Judge John R. Bailey’s article about how food insecurity looks from his position on the bench, and why he is a West Chester Food Cupboard volunteer.

Click HERE.