intro to food insecurity

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Today I want to touch on the topic of food from a different angle than I normally do. It's easy to get lost in the endless feed of beautiful photos of fresh, delicious, and healthy meals on my instagram or my pinterest page. For the most part, my main concern when it comes to making decisions about food everyday is what am I going to eat? Wellness or food bloggers often make it seem so easy, so simple to eat healthy - it's all about the choices that you make for your body.

But what about those who don't have a choice, who aren't as privileged? What about those whose main concern is not what they're going to eat, but if they're going to eat or what can they afford to eat. This is a social, economic, and environmental problem that is prevalent in the U.S. and around the world today. 

I first became familiar with this topic as a senior in high school when I wrote an essay for a college scholarship competition on Food Deserts in Detroit. A food desert, defined by the USDA, is an area "vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas". This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers. Ultimately, food deserts fit into the broader umbrella concept of food insecurity. I was introduced to the issue of food security/insecurity when I joined a student organization on University of Michigan's campus whose mission was to reduce food insecurity among college students.

what is food insecurity?

According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, food insecurity "describes a household's inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life."

what leads to food insecurity?

Food insecurity is linked with poverty, however, it can also be due to simply the lack of access to fresh and affordable food either by location or distribution (food desert). Food insecurity is particularly common in rural areas where three-quarters of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in rural areas. 

Did you know that 42 million people in the United States struggle with hunger including 13 million children and 5.4 million senior citizens? These statistics make me think twice about saying "think about all the people in third world countries who are starving" the next time someone is about to throw away the rest of their meal. Starvation is happening here, in this country.

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what are the consequences?

Families who are in poverty and food insecure often have to make a choice between food and other things such as health care, car repairs, or other unexpected expenses. Furthermore, low-income areas usually support retail operations that sell low-cost food which tends to be high in processed fats and sugars and low in nutritional content leading to a vast array of serious health risks and complications. In regards to children, this could damage to a child's ability to grow and learn. Poverty and the inability to meet your daily needs also leads to chronic stress, which takes a mental and physical toll on the body long term.

what can you do to fight food insecurity in the united states?

1. Donate to your local food bank or pantry

2. Volunteer with a local community or student organization

3. Support local farms and grocery stores that offer affordable fresh and healthy options

4. Reduce your own food waste

I've teamed up with The Swag which is a produce storage bag designed to keep produce fresh for longer, thus eliminating food waste!

Stay tuned for next week's blog post to learn more about how The Swag as well as other strategies to reduce your food waste. In the meantime, check out their website and instagram page.



sources:

http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/what-is-hunger-and-food-insecurity.html

http://www.foodgatherers.org/?module=Page&sID=hunger-facts

http://www.npr.org/2005/11/22/5021812/q-a-the-causes-behind-hunger-in-america

http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defines-food-deserts

http://www.frac.org/aaptoolkit