And it is a tough conversation to have. One in five children in the United States faces hunger. How crazy is that? We live in a country that practically specializes in overabundance, and yet, millions of people in this country go to be hungry every night.
To understand hunger in this country, one needs to understand food insecurity. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food insecure means that at times during the year, a household was unsure of having, or unable to acquire, enough because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. In 2012, 14.5 percent (17.6 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some point—that’s nearly 15 percent of Americans.
Food insecurity is widespread. According to Feeding America, there are people living with food insecurity in every county in the country. The top 5 states for food insecurity are Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, and North Carolina.
Food Insecurity and Food Deserts Go Hand in Hand
Food deserts breed food insecurity. An equally significant problem we have in this country is one of food deserts. Food deserts are “areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.” When you live in a food desert, it’s hard to make healthy choices because you don’t have healthy options. And when you don’t have healthy options, you eat food that’s unhealthy.
How to Raise Awareness
Hunger Action Month aims to shed light on the issue of food insecurity by encouraging all of us to participate in a variety of activities. Some ideas:
- Wear orange (the official color of Hunger Action Month) or change your Facebook or Twitter profile to orange to show your support.
- Write to your congressional representatives asking them to support local food banks. Feeding American has a goal of getting every member of Congress to visit a food bank this year.
- Take the S.N.A.P. challenge. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allots $4.50 a day per person for food. Try to live on this budget to see what it’s like to have to rely on such a small amount to feed yourself or your family.
You can participate in this month’s efforts to raise awareness of food insecurity by using the hashtag #HungerActionMonth and start to make a difference—even if it’s small.