On the Flip Side-Food Insecurity
As a student of health and nutrition and a reader of all related media, I am constantly bombarded with the topic of Obesity (As I’m sure you are, too!). Americans are fat! Obesity is the cause of skyrocketing healthcare costs! We eat too much. Soda is the devil. Exercise more. And on and on and on.
And yes, while the above may be true, and while Obesity is a very serious epidemic we are facing, there is also a different side of the story. It shocked me, quite honestly, as I’ve been wrapped up in news of “excess” lately.
A report came out today that shows that nearly 15% of household’s don’t get enough to eat (aka “Food Insecure”). That equals about 1 in 7 Americans who find themselves under-fed on a regular basis, and more than 1/3 go hungry from time to time. These levels are the higest reported since 1995.
More specifically, 14.6% of US Households (about 49.1 million people….million!) had difficulty providing adequate food for their families due to “lack of resources.” According to experts, these families utililized food pantries, antihunger programs, and varied diets. About 5.6%, or 17.4 million people, had “very low food security,” meaning certain members of the household had less to eat than other members. According to the report, typically these households experience a food shortage for a few days for about seven or eight months.
These findings represent 2008, when the economy was in a major crisis and the rate of jobless increased past 10%. Indeed, it was a tough time for MANY people (and still continues to be). The survey, publushed by the Agriculture Department (USDA) and conducted annually in December, also found that these numbers were higher than in 2007.
Just take that in for a moment. Breathe. That amidst all the hubbub surrounding the war agsinst Obesity there are MILLIONS of people going hungry each day. So what to do? Just be aware. Perhaps this holiday season will give us the opportunity to donate to those less fortunate, or volunteer for a helping organization.