Assignment 2. 2: The Public Needs to Know – 49 Million People are Experiencing Hunger in America Lisa Jenkins Strayer University ENG 115 Amy Sloan The economic conditions surrounding our food pantries today are that the demand from patrons experiencing food insecurity has risen dramatically, while donations from outside sources are lessening. Other factors include the increasingly higher cost of fuel and food, a change in desire for fresh foods versus canned, the ability to store these types of foods and the willingness for enough volunteers to lend a hand.
Food pantries depend on a large amount of donations from large food chains and manufacturers. These types of donations are decreasing due to new technologies in the industry that help optimize productions, therefore lessening the amount of product that is overproduced. According to Feeding America, “Hunger in America exists for nearly 49 million people. That is one in six of the U. S. population – including more than one in five children. ” (http://feedingamerica. org 2012) The USDA reports that 1 in 4 Americans access programs that provide food assistance through the federal government. (www. USDA. ov 2012 p. 1)The unemployment rate for 2011 was 8. 9%, a small decrease from previous years. (www. USDA. gov 2012 p. 5) It appears that the economy of America is not improving. Food assistance is no longer only for the homeless and unemployed. A majority of patrons receiving food assistance from food pantries report that at least one adult is employed in the household. Food insecurity does not only exist in the suburbs anymore. Growing populations of those in need of food assistance live in rural areas and do not always have access to food pantries. Food insecurity is growing expeditiously in the U. S. nd currently exists in every county in America. More women, children and elderly are experiencing food insecurity than ever before. The patrons of food pantries are no longer visiting only in emergency situations. The trend now is for those patrons to use food pantries to supplement their food sources on a regular basis. The special needs of those served at food pantries include the need and desire for fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and proteins to ensure proper nutritional needs are being met. Reports show that children and adults that are not eating properly will suffer physically and mentally in regards to their health.
This is especially important with children who are still developing. Children that are food insecure will most likely not do well academically; have lower test scores, experience depression and behavioral problems in school. Women that are not receiving proper nutrition during pregnancy may experience complications during child birth and could give birth to low birth weight babies. Adults need access to nutritional foods so that they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and try to keep their self-esteem during this difficult time.
The elderly may have food restrictions due to current medications that are taken for health reasons or might be handicapped and need assistance getting food delivered or prepared. The importance of helping those in need of receiving access to nutritional foods is of the utmost importance to the future of our nation. Some of the programs provided by Feeding America for Children are: The Kids Cafe, Back Pack Program, Summer Food Program, and The School Pantry Program. Essentially the purpose of each of these programs is to provide nutritious meals for children in need.
The Kids Cafe provides meals and snacks at after school programs and churches. The Back Pack Program sends nutritious foods and snacks home with school children to provide food they might not have otherwise received over the week end. The Summer Food Program provides meals during the summer at safe and easy to access locations. Several programs are also available for pregnant women and the elderly. The National Produce Program has partnerships with growers to provide bulk sources of fresh foods available for distribution to Feeding America food banks.
This includes special packing to insure freshness. More nutritious foods are being made available to the food insecure through the national Produce Program than ever before. Contact your local food bank to find out which services are offered or how to help. The benefits of all the programs provided by Feeding America are insurmountable. Providing fresh, wholesome nutritional foods to men, women and children that might otherwise do without helps those individuals live healthier more productive lives.
Helping others with food insecurity will hopefully help those individuals eventually be able to help themselves and to turn things around so that one day they will be able to provide for themselves. The sense of urgency of the situation needs to be spread to individuals, corporations, local governments and politicians, as well as federal government in hopes that everyone’s awareness will encourage people to take action to help end hunger in the richest country in the world. (See figure 2. ) The importance of helping those in need of receiving access to nutritional foods is of the utmost importance to our nation.
The number of those in need of assistance has more than tripled since the beginning of the most recent economic downturn. Costs of foods and gasoline are not stabilizing. More and more people are losing their jobs due to economic downturn and/or American jobs are being eliminated by U. S. corporations and then those same jobs are moved to other countries where corporations can pay lower wages and benefits to the people of those countries. These actions by large corporations and the government are not helping to turn the economy around. These actions are not helping to put food in the hands of Americans that are in need.
No longer should those individuals that can help sit back and do nothing. There is no reason why the richest country in the world should have over 15% of its population experiencing hunger and food insecurity. There is no reason why almost 17 million American children should not have nutritional meals available to them every day. Our government, corporations and individuals are needed to help make a difference. After all it is our responsibility to help others in need. References Feeding America (2012) Hunger in America Retrieved from Feeding America website: http://feedingamerica. rg/hunger-in-america. aspx Feeding America (2012) Hunger in America: Hunger and Poverty Statistics. Retrieved from Feeding America website: http://feedingamerica. org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/hunger-and-poverty-statistics. aspx (Figure 1) http://feedingamerica. org/get-involved. aspx (Figure 2) USDA Economic Research Service U. S. Department of Agriculture Economic Information Bulletin No. 93 March 2012 retrieved from USDA website: http://www. ers. usda. gov/media/376910/eib93_1_. pdf (p. 1) USDA Economic Research Service U. S. Department of Agriculture Economic Information Bulletin No. 3 March 2012 retrieved from USDA website: http://www. ers. usda. gov/media/376910/eib93_1_. pdf (p. 5) Hunger & Poverty Statistics Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same. Unemployment rather than poverty is a stronger predictor of food insecurity. Povertyi * In 2010, 46. 2 million people (15. 1 percent) were in poverty. * In 2010, 9. 2 million (11. 7 percent) families were in poverty. * In 2010, 26. 3 million (13. 7 percent) of people ages 18-64 were in poverty. * In 2010, 16. 4 million (22. 0 percent) children under the age of 18 were in poverty. In 2010, 3. 5 million (9. 0 percent) seniors 65 and older were in poverty. * The overall Poverty Rate according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure is 16. 0%, as compared with the official poverty rate of 15. 1%. ii * Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, there are 49. 1 million people living in poverty, 2. 5 million more than are represented by the official poverty measure (46. 2 million). iii Food Insecurity and Very Low Food Securityiv * In 2010, 48. 8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 32. 6 million adults and 16. 2 million children. In 2010, 14. 5 percent of households (17. 2 million households) were food insecure. * In 2010, 5. 4 percent of households (6. 4 million households) experienced very low food security. * In 2010, households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20. 2 percent compared to 11. 7 percent. * In 2010, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (20. 2 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35. 1 percent) or single men (25. percent), Black non-Hispanic households (25. 1 percent) and Hispanic households (26. 2 percent). * In 2009, 8. 0 percent of seniors living alone (925,000 households) were food insecure. * Food insecurity exists in every county in America, ranging from a low of 5 percent in Steele County, ND to a high of 38 percent in Wilcox County, AL. v Nine states exhibited statistically significant higher household food insecurity rates than the U. S. national average 2008-2010:iv United States 14. 6% Mississippi 19. 4% Texas 18. 8% Arkansas 18. 6% Alabama 17. 3% Georgia 16. 9% Ohio 16. 4%
Florida 16. 1% California 15. 9% North Carolina 15. 7% Use of Emergency Food Assistance and Federal Food Assistance Programsvi * In 2010, 4. 8 percent of all U. S. households (5. 6 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times. 2 * In 2010, 59. 2 percent of food-insecure households participated in at least one of the three major Federal food assistance programs –Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp Program), The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Feeding America provides emergency food assistance to an estimated 37 million low-income people annually, a 46 percent increase from 25 million since Hunger in America 2010. * Among members of Feeding America, 74 percent of pantries, 65 percent of kitchens, and 54 percent of shelters reported that there had been an increase since 2006 in the number of clients who come to their emergency food program sites. i U. S. Census Bureau. Carmen DeNavas-Walt, B. Proctor, C. Lee. Income, Poverty, and Heath Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.
September 2011. ii The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010. (2011). U. S. Census Bureau. iii Ibid. iv USDA. Coleman-Jensen, A. , Nord, M. , Andrews, M. , & Carlson, S. Household Food Security in the United States in 2010. v Feeding America. Gundersen, G. , Waxman, E. , Engelhard, E. , Del Vecchio, T. , Satoh, A. , & Lopez-Betanzos, A. Map the Meal Gap 2012. vi Rhoda Cohen, J. , Mabli, F. , Potter, Z. , Zhao. Mathematica Policy Research, Feeding America. Hunger in America 2010. [i] U. S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 010 Annual Average Unemployment Rates. Figure 1. Feeding America 2012 Hunger in America Hunger Facts: Hunger and Poverty Statistics Retrieved from Feeding America website: http://feedingamerica. org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/hunger-and-poverty-statistics. aspx Get Involved With nearly 49 million Americans struggling with hunger, it is going to take efforts from many people to help alleviate this issue. There are many ways to help in the cause. Figure 2. Feeding America 2012 Retrieved from Feeding America website: http://feedingamerica. org/get-involved. aspx