Understanding Food Insecurity

March 09, 2015
Understanding Food Insecurity

Food insecurity. How is it different than hunger? What does food insecurity look like?

The term food insecurity encompasses more than just the physical symptoms of hunger, like being underweight or having stunted growth. People who are food insecure may not be hungry all the time, but they live with a constant uncertainty about whether they and their families will have enough to eat in the future.

Food-insecure people miss meals, run out of food before they can afford to purchase more, and sometimes go to bed hungry. They also live with the intense psychological stress of not knowing when they will be able to feed themselves and their children. Food-insecure children and teens often struggle in school and have issues with disruptive behavior and aggression. And if the effects weren’t bad enough, food insecurity is not an isolated issue affecting only the poorest communities. According to a recent report from National Geographic, 1 in 6 American households is food insecure. That’s 49 million people.

Food insecurity affects a wide range of people, and the problem is not limited to the homeless or unemployed. In fact, 75% of food-insecure individuals in America have someone in their household who is working at least part time. Because of rising food costs and the fact that many wages haven’t kept up with inflation, even working families have to worry about getting enough to eat.

These families are also facing new, unique challenges to staying fed. Many low-income families live in food deserts—isolated areas with a shortage of grocery stores. People who live in food deserts have trouble finding enough healthy food to eat. Also, because they are working, many food-insecure individuals have trouble getting help from social service agencies that are open only during business hours.

tCI programs are fighting food insecurity in the communities the Claretians serve. Bread of Life Food Pantry at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, fills the gaps for community members who are struggling to find enough to eat on a regular basis. The Kids Meal Program at Holy Cross Parish in Chicago provides kids with a nutritious meal, extra snacks to take home, and valuable lessons about nutrition.

You can make a difference by making a donation to one of these programs or by spreading the word about our programs on Facebook and Twitter and encouraging your friends to sign up for our monthly email. Join us in working to make sure everyone in our communities is well-fed and confident they can stay that way.

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