Food insecurity is still a major problem for many families – Seattle Medium | CarTailz

By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium

Currently, the USDA reports that more than 34 million people, including 9 million children, are food insecure in the United States. While this may be a temporary situation for some families, the fact remains that many families do not have access to “enough food for each person in a household to lead active, healthy lives.”

Washington state residents continue to experience dramatically higher levels of food insecurity — from 10 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic to 27 percent — in , due to COVID, according to the latest food insecurity research and support from the University of Washington and Washington State University the past few years.

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, CEO of Byrd Barr Place, a local nonprofit that runs a food bank in Seattle’s Central Area, says the area’s hardship is great when it comes to food insecurity.

“We have over 1 million people in Washington state who live in or near dessert and people who live at or below the poverty line who cannot afford to support themselves,” says Caupain Sanderson. “Whether this is episodic or continuous – it represents food insecurity.”

Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people in America are struggling to meet their basic needs, increasing their risk of food insecurity. From an accident at work, layoffs at work, emergencies, illness, an unexpected car service, such adversities can suddenly force families to choose between paying bills or buying groceries.

The causes of food insecurity are complex. Some of the causes of food insecurity are poverty, unemployment, low income, lack of affordable housing, lack of good public policies, chronic health problems or lack of access to health care, and systemic racism and racial discrimination.

“There are common factors that are used to determine food insecurity,” says Glen Turner, executive director of Seattle & King County’s Emergency Feeding Program. “Basically, it’s based on homelessness and the poverty line. First we look at poverty levels and then there’s the insecure homeless and most people are either working poor or they’re just kind of stranded out there so those things are always factored into the food insecurity assessment as far as the federal government is concerned .”

“For us, food insecurity is determined by who is starving,” Turner continued. “It does not matter. If you don’t have the means to buy your groceries, to take care of your family that way, then you are part of food insecurity.”

According to advocates, food insecurity can have far-reaching effects depending on a person’s circumstances. When people have to choose between spending money on food and medicine or health care, it can cause serious health problems. It can make it difficult for a child to learn and grow, and it can lead to difficult decisions, such as where to go. B. choosing between eating out or paying rent, bills and/or transportation.

Part of the reason why food insecurity is so difficult to solve is that the underlying causes – poverty, unemployment/underemployment and inconsistent access to adequate healthy food – are often closely linked. Shifting in and out of food insecurity simply adds more stress to a household that may already be struggling with instability and unpredictability.

Data shows that food insecurity is more likely to devastate some communities than others. For example, Blacks and Hispanics in particular are disproportionately affected. According to the USDA, 19.1% of black households and 15.6% of Hispanic households were food insecure in 2019. White Americans fell below the national average at 7.9%.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one in nine people in the US (38 million) used the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka Food Stamps) in 2019.

According to Turner, inflation and the current economic climate have made it difficult for local food banks to keep up with the growing demands of food insecurity.

“The amount of food that is distributed accounts for only two meals, so the cost of food accounts for a large portion of the amount of food that can be given to an individual or family,” Turner says.

“Those are the things that matter,” Turner continued. “Donation levels are down, so these challenges are something we all experience on the food network. My opinion is that we need to start looking at it in terms of community survival, we need to get out of our silos and reach out and help someone else. I think once we get into the mindset that we’re a village and not individuals, things get a lot better, especially on the food side.”

Community cohesion, empathy and the idea that it takes a village are some of the ideals that food banks and the food network must keep in mind as they continue to meet the challenges and provide access to food to those in need.

“Our programs help stabilize people’s lives, providing predictability and stability through food and nutrition,” says Caupain Sanderson. “We are trusted hubs and a gateway to other needed social services.”

“I firmly believe that we have to act as a village,” says Turner. “We are only as strong as our weakest link. At the moment, many people are living on the street, many people who are in a safe situation, who live in desserts, who are faced with the price and cost of goods these days.”

“I just hope and pray that there will be a turnaround, that someone steps in and says, ‘Hey, we need to revitalize our economy’ and start serving those who are less served and we can’t keep raising the prices of things and expect to find balance everywhere,” Turner added. “We have to find ways to moderate [food prices] and find a way to help people get back on their feet. We have to find another way to do business.”

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