Food insecurity currently afflicts 37+ million Americans. This figure includes more than 11 million children. (Other estimates are even more dire due to the Greater Depression conditions we are now facing. As many as 50 million Americans may be facing food insecurity.)
Some of us (at least for now) can afford to take food security for granted. That is not the reality for many Americans.
What is food security? The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines food security this way. “People, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.”
Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Not surprisingly, food insecurity is a major contributor to ill health and disease. It is also detrimental to a child’s ability to learn.
What are the causes of food insecurity?
There are numerous causes of food insecurity in these times. Many working families have to make continual choices about whether to eat well or pay their electric bills. Any sudden expense such as job loss, a health crisis, an auto accident, can plunge a family or an individual into food insecurity. Our economy is unforgiving. In the words of Feeding America, all it takes is “one bad month.” And this was before the coronavirus reached the U.S.
The Federal Reserve released a study on Dealing with Unexpected Expenses. It showed that more than 12% of Americans have no way of covering a $400 expense. And 4 in 10 would have to borrow the money on credit cards at double digit interest rates!
While America still has its own challenges ahead, food insecurity is far more rampant in poorer parts of the world. The UN’s 2019 world food program reported that 135 million people in the world were food-insecure to a life-threatening degree. Since then the coronavirus epidemic has caused that number to nearly double. The Council on Foreign Relations reports that “Pandemic restrictions have made it more difficult to access food. Economic downturns around the globe could mean long-lasting inability to afford food for hundreds of millions of people.”
Meanwhile, government reactions to the coronavirus is driving additional worldwide food insecurity. And the outlook for a post-pandemic world is also not encouraging. The World Economic Forum projection combines the effects of climate change, soil degradation, pollution, and water shortages. It says by 2050, the world food demand will be 60% higher than it is today. By then, there will be less arable land and a worldwide ecosystem that is likely to produce less food.
What can be done about food insecurity?
There are small steps that individual citizens can take with regard to food security. One, for some, is simply to eat smaller portions of food! Eating less meat and more locally grown food is a way to help preserve the soil and the environment. Actions such as these are meaningful and necessary if individuals are willing and able to take them.
Institutional answers, however, must be sought and implemented to avert the worst consequences of food-insecure days to come. Businesses must assist in maintaining a strong workforce. A workforce unburdened by the fears and effects that food insecurity brings, they must implement solutions that anticipate such troubles. Solutions are needed to keep people strong, and businesses reliable and able to fulfill their purpose without disruption. Secure Foods offers one solution in the form of 25 year life freeze dried foods.