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 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?
A surprising number of college students experience food insecurity along with housing insecurity. Click here to learn more.