In my column titled The Face of Georgia’s Hungry on April 23rd, a number of statistics were shared that framed the problem of food insecurity in our state. There are few things that impact every facet of a person’s quality of life as does hunger. For a point of reference, we all experience occasional “hunger,” especially just before lunch after a busy morning, or as we are walking into a restaurant for dinner when we only had a pack of crackers in the car for lunch. So, “hunger” is probably not the best word to describe the feeling of food insecurity.
Recent studies by the USDA have begun to replace this ubiquitous term with descriptions like “low food security” and “very low food insecurity” to more accurately describe what a family facing a crisis actually experiences. In a report published by the USDA in September 2018, a survey of food insecure families revealed the following sentiments:
- 90% of Low Food Secure families worried that food would run out each month;
- 82% of the same families actually ran out of food;
- 34% cut the size of their meals or skipped a meal altogether;
- “Very Low Food Secure” families categorically shared a more difficult scenario with just over 47% actually losing weight due to lack of food.
In a country where according to the same source we waste 31-40% of our food supply each year, the “head tilt” meme is appropriately applied here.
Of course, all of the statistics I have shared spike during the summer months when hundreds of thousands of Georgia’s kids on free lunch are on break. While food insecurity is a real challenge, it is not an insurmountable challenge! There are many good organizations who work safely to rescue food, prepare meals for summer feeding routes, and work with existing resources in local schools to more efficiently deploy resources into communities during the summer when buses sit idle.
So, what can we do about this? Find an organization that you care about and help them bridge the gap this summer, by donating food and supplies, volunteer to make sandwiches, be a delivery driver, or making a modest contribution to end hunger for a child for the entire summer. We can and should also advocate against short-sided policies that limit access to food during the summer, by letting your elected officials know you are paying attention to the needs of your neighbors.
In short…get involved to help alleviate some of the worries that 9 out 10 food insecure families feel this time of year.