Food insecurity can be defined as the lack of access to adequate amounts of healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods, caused by a lack of money or other resources. The fact of the matter is that over 60 million Americans experienced the indignity of food insecurity in 2020, and there is currently no end in sight.
While I am lucky enough to have a full tummy and plenty of food in the pantry, I am hungry for change. I hope you'll join me in the quest for a brighter, more equitable and well-nourished future.
If you are someone who is experiencing food insecurity, please know that you are not alone. Below are links to government assistance programs and privately run, not-for-profit organizations that may be able to help you.
If you are interested in getting involved in this area of food justice, there are plenty of organizations that could use your help. Keep scrolling to learn more.
Know of an organization that should be featured on this page? Let me know in the comments below!
The Problem of Food Insecurity in America
As if a global pandemic were not enough to bear, COVID-19 has had far reaching implications beyond the illness itself. It may come as a surprise that nearly 1 in 4 American households experienced food insecurity during 2020. Perhaps more shocking is the fact that nearly 30% of households with children were food insecure during the same year.
Unfortunately, while the problem of food insecurity has become more publicized during the last 18+ months, hunger is far from being a new problem. In fact, 10.5% of American households were considered food insecure in 2019; that's over 35 million Americans who didn't have consistent access to nutritious food, before anyone had even heard of COVID.
As the wealthiest nation that has ever existed, I find it both alarming and shameful that we haven't found a better way to ensure that everyone has equal access to the most basic human right: food. While there are currently several government programs and many charitable food banks in operation, we haven't yet figured out to keep our nation fed.
I firmly believe that by having more people learn about and discuss these issues, we are more likely to find lasting solutions. We need to:
- De-stigmatize hunger and poverty.
- Discuss uncomfortable subjects - like structural racism - and how social norms contribute to the hunger crisis.
- Demand that the government stop subsidizing commodity crops that are worsening the obesity epidemic and instead focus on incentivizing the purchase of healthy, nutritious foods.
Whether you are someone who is currently living the reality of not knowing where your next meal is coming from, or if you have never known hunger in your life, or you're somewhere in the middle: we need to work together toward a lasting solution to the scourge of hunger.
In the meantime, there are a lot of people out there working for change. Below are both public and private organizations that are working in the food insecurity realm.
If you see any missing content, please let me know in the comments below!
If you're still hungry for change, I'm right there with you. Our food system needs a massive overhaul! Here are some other resources that you might find interesting:
- Civil Eats - Civil Eats is a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system. We publish stories that shift the conversation around sustainable agriculture in an effort to build economically and socially just communities.
- FoodTank - Food Tank is "the think tank for food," dedicated to building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters through policy, education and community organization.
- FoodCorps - Together with communities, FoodCorps serves to connect kids to healthy food in school. Help us create a future in which every school is a healthy one and every kid has a shot at success.
- Rock & Wrap It Up! - Check out this award-winning anti-poverty think tank if you'd like to volunteer. They research, discover and nurture potential donors who have renewable assets to share.
- The National Council on Aging - Check out this great post from NCOA, which has some great tips for helping seniors get the nutrition they need: Resources and Support for Older Adults Living Alone: A Comprehensive Guide (2023)