What is food security?
The World Health Organization explains that food security exists “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”
Food insecurity is when an individual does not always have the access to healthy foods to maintain overall health and wellness.
Many factors contribute to food insecurity, including:
- Challenges of living on a fixed income
- Health insurance
- Low wages
- Rising cost of food
- Diet-related disease
- Access to grocery stores
What are the effects of food insecurity?
Research conducted by Children’s HealthWatch and reported by Feeding America [Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on Our Nation] finds strong ties to nutrition and overall health and well-being:
- Food-insecure children are 90% more likely to have their overall health reported as “fair/poor” rather than “excellent/good” than kids from food-secure homes
- Food insecurity is linked to increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, headaches, stomachaches, and even colds
- When children eat breakfast, they tend to consume more nutrients and experience lower obesity rates
- Hunger in childhood has been linked to significant health problems in adulthood
To read more about the effects of food insecurity, visit HERE.
What programs exist to help individuals facing food insecurity?
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, provides low-income families with additional resources to purchase food each month. Read more HERE.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income women who are pregnant or have children under 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk. Read more HERE.
- School, summer, and afterschool meals programs are federal nutrition programs that help provide meals to kids throughout the year. Read more HERE.
- Private and community-based organizations including food banks and pantries, soup kitchens, and meals on wheels programs provide food to families in need.
How are poverty, food insecurity, and obesity linked?
While it may sound counterintuitive, there are strong links between food insecurity and obesity.
According to the Food Resource and Action Center, some of the reasons for these links include:
- Food insecure communities often lack grocery stores that supply healthy and low-cost fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and so it can be more difficult for community members to eat healthy on a budget.
- Low-income neighborhoods have higher concentrations of fast food restaurants which typically serve high-calorie, low-nutrient foods that may lead to weight gain.
- Low-income neighborhoods have fewer resources for physical activity such as parks, bike paths and recreation facilities—and low-income youth are less likely to participate in sports or play outdoors.
- Food insecure individuals may overeat when food becomes available, thus leading to weight gain.
- Low-income family members—including children—often experience high levels of stress due to the financial and emotional pressures of food insecurity, low-wage work, lack of access to health care, inadequate and long-distance transportation, poor housing, neighborhood violence, and other factors.
To learn more about these factors, click HERE
Why are people concerned about obesity?
One reason why we are so concerned about people who are overweight or obese is that excess weight increases risk factors for certain diet-related diseases such as heart disease, certain types of cancers, and Type 2 diabetes.
Seeking additional resources?
To learn more about how No Kid Hungry describes and works to solve the problem of childhood hunger, click HERE
To learn more about food security, click HERE
To learn more about the link between hunger and obesity, click HERE