When most Americans think of the issue of hunger, the first image that comes to mind may be sick children in third-world countries. Hunger is undeniably a worldwide issue, but what many people don’t realize is how present the problem is in our own country. Specifically, food insecurity, a federal measure that describes a household’s ability to provide enough food, exists in every county across the United States (Aviv). Hunger in America exists and is a multifaceted issue with social, political and environmental consequences. Because of this complexity, and because many of the underlying causes of food insecurity such as poverty, unemployment, and inconsistent access to food are interconnected, it can seem like an overwhelming problem to solve.
The first step towards ending hunger in America is understanding the nature of the problem. Many working families across America are vulnerable to food insecurity, as lay-offs and unexpected situations can force families to choose between paying bills or buying food. Unemployment is the primary driver of food insecurity, and the unemployment rate is shown to have a statistically significant effect on the rate of food insecurity (Aviv). Unfortunately, employment isn’t a cure-all solution, as there is considerable food insecurity among families who don’t qualify for federal food assistance in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (Aviv). Thus there is a complicated social aspect to the hunger crisis in our country.
There are also underlying environmental issues related to the issue of hunger in America. The Campus Kitchens Project and Feeding America are both organizations that work to fight hunger in a sustainable manner by recovering food that would otherwise be wasted. America has more than enough food to feed everyone, but unfortunately nearly half of the food grown, processed, and transported in our country goes to waste (Food recovery). Clearly hunger is as much an environmental issue as it is a social one.
Over the course of this semester, I have researched the hunger crisis in our country as part of a class on Community-Based Learning. This research and time spent volunteering for Campus Kitchens at SLU allowed me to get a sense of how serious of a problem hunger is, as well as some possible solutions. Food banks are an important source of sustenance for those facing food insecurity, but unfortunately they’re a rather shallow solution to a big problem. In addition to food banks and programs like Campus Kitchens that provide meals to community members, the hunger issue in our country needs strong federal support in the form of nutrition programs. This is an issue that we should all care about as Americans, global citizens, and as human beings for the sake of the health of future generations. Hunger may see like an overwhelming problem, but through volunteerism and the implementation of data-driven solutions, we can move towards a hunger-free America.
Aviv, Diana. "There's a Hunger Problem in Every County in America-and It's Solvable." Common Dreams. N.p., 3 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 May 2017.
“Food recovery.” Feeding America. 2017.
“Understanding hunger and food insecurity.” Feeding America. 2017.