As a middle- class American, I have never known what it is like to be truly in need of food. I have been hungry, but never for long. My refrigerator and pantry have always been full of good food that both of my working parents can afford. I may not always appreciate it, but it has always been there- and I should appreciate it. Americans manage to waste $165 billion in food a year, which means 40% of food produced in America goes uneaten. What if we didn’t waste all that good food? What if all the stuff we had in our pantry we knew we weren’t going to eat went to food drives, to people who really needed it? Hunger is a big obstacle in America. Those of us who are healthy and well fed should do all that we can to help people in need of food security.
People all over the country rely on charitable organizations to help provide groceries and meals for their families. One in seven people in the United States has food insecurity issues. 46.5 million Americans rely on food banks every year. This includes 12 million children and 7 million senior citizens (statistics from feedingamerica.org). It’s not just about the amount, it’s also about the type of food. Because of their budget, most people purchase inexpensive, yet unhealthy foods to feed their families. Because of this, basic nutritional values and needs are not being met. 89% of hungry households have children. Proper nutrition is critical to children and their physical and mental health (feedingamerica.org). Over half of people in America have to make the choice between food, household utilities, medical care, and education. Medical attention is needed more commonly in homes with seniors and small children. Most people that face food insecurity exists in a stable living condition, but every 1 in 6 has experienced an eviction in the past few years.
Everyone can do something. It could be as simple as talking about food insecurity with your friends and family. Chances are, someone you work with or go to school with on a daily basis could be facing hunger. Raising awareness is a simple and effective way to build the stepping stones to change. Other ways to help include volunteering or giving money or food at a local food bank. Even a small amount can make a difference. Lots of organizations ask for only one dollar. Food drives are another great way to raise awareness and get donations. Donating those cans of green beans that were shoved in the back of your pantry eliminates wasted food, and gives it those who need it more.
If everyone does just one simple thing, we can end hunger in the United States and really make a difference.