In America, we take comfort in an endless supply of food to eat. We read articles and posts daily about the intake of organic foods, whole foods, juicing and eating for longevity. Many of us will not eat food unless it is organic or farm fed. These buzz words peak our interest and drive us to look for the purest foods possible to consume. Below are some buzz phrases I want you to remember, so you will not forget those who lack food choices.
- Food Insecurity
- Food Security
- Gender Inequality
What we do not realize is thousands of people in America go to bed hungry. They will eat food from trash cans or eat dog food because they cannot afford to eat, period. Many of these Americans are children. They are not lazy or trifling. They are our poor, and some live next door to you.
What do you know about the poor and food insecurity? Food insecurity is the most broadly-used measure of food deprivation in the United States alone. The USDA defines it as “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and resources certain times during the year.” Food insecurity is a household economic and social condition of limited and uncertain access to adequate food. It is unconscionable human suffering and causes catastrophic health problems due to poor nutrition, especially in children. No one should live with constant hunger, especially children and senior citizens; it is unacceptable and a disgrace to American society.
Many Americans have steady incomes that provide a steady flow of food for the household and more than enough to feed their families. Americans waste food by the poundage on a monthly basis – from dinner leftovers to spoiled food in the refrigerator. Then there is another set of Americans who go to bed hungry and their children suffer from malnutrition and poor health because of food insecurity. Hunger is an individual physiological condition resulting from food insecurity, impacting those living in poverty, children, minorities, seniors and those in rural areas.
Food security is related to the supply of food and a person’s access to food. Discourse about food security existed throughout history. At the 1974 World Food Conference, the term “food security” was defined with an emphasis on supply. Food security, they said, “is the “availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices.” The 1996 World Food Summit states that food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” In 2011-2013, an estimated 842 million people suffered from chronic hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identified four pillars of food security as “availability, access, utilization, and stability. The United Nations recognized the right to food in the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and since noted it is vital for the enjoyment of all other rights.
Gender inequality leads to and is a result of food insecurity. Women and girls comprise 60% of the world’s chronically hungry. Not much progress has been made to ensure equal rights to food for women globally. Gender equality is instrumental to ending malnutrition and hunger. Women spend more money on food. Many work in subsistence farming and represent about 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, varying from 20% in Latin America to 50% in Eastern and Southeastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, women face discrimination in access to land, credit, technologies, finance and other services.
One of the largest food producing countries in the world is the United States, yet approximately one in six people are “food insecure”, including 17 million children. According to the USDA, a 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Research on Children found rates of food security varied significantly by race, class and education. In kindergarten and third grade, 5% of white children were food insecure, 12% and 15% were African American and Latino, respectively. Severe malnutrition in early childhood can lead to defects in cognitive development and death.
Hunger is a global problem. Let’s work to wipe out hunger by ensuring people less fortunate and living in poverty have food to eat daily. Visit your community pantry and donate on a monthly basis. Donate food or money. No child or adult should be left to malnutrition or starvation because they are poor, especially in the United States.
As a Health and Wellness expert, I have worked with impoverished communities and veterans that did not have food to eat and suffered from exhaustion because of food insecurity. They were too ashamed to ask for help. Let’s ensure that we feed the hungry one day at a time, and months and years will follow.
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