May 20, 2024

Rural Issues: Food insecurity in our own rural community

Food insecurity is on the rise. New data on global food security and nutrition indicate a significant increase in the number of people on this planet lacking access, at times, to enough food for an active and healthy life since 2019.

“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023″ suggests somewhere between 691 million and 783 million people faced hunger in 2022, with a midrange of 735 million.

The report, published jointly by five United Nations agencies, says over 122 million more people have become food insecure in the past three years, citing the pandemic, repeated extreme weather events and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.

The report found that nearly 30% of the global population does not have constant access to food and that malnutrition is affecting nearly 150 million children under the age of 5.

Approximately 2.4 billion individuals, largely women and residents of rural areas, did not have consistent access to nutritious, safe and sufficient food in 2022.

Before the pandemic, food insecurity here in the United States was lower than it had been since they started measuring it in the 1990s.

Although the situation is much less dire here in the United States than in Western Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, food insecurity — especially in rural areas — is on the rise.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Although hunger and food insecurity are closely related, they are distinct concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level.

USDA’s Economic Research Service says an important indicator of the nation’s long-term well-being is poverty among children. Child poverty often has an impact that carries throughout a lifetime, especially if the child lived in poverty at an early age.

Sadly, people living in America’s rural areas and farm communities face a higher probability of experiencing food insecurity and hunger than those who live far from the fields where crops are grown.

It is hard to believe that 2.2 million households in rural America face hunger. The truth is, many hardworking and capable men and women whose families have lived in your rural community for generations, are sliding deeper into the well of poverty.

Some choose that life. Most, however, do not. The children have no voice in the matter and are the ones most impacted.

The most recent statistics provided by Feeding America suggest nearly 13% of those under 18 years of age — right here on American soil — are food insecure.

It is heartbreaking to see pictures of malnourished children in Somalia, India and Haiti. But it is more heartbreaking to know there are children here in the very heartland of America who will not have enough to eat today.

If you have the ability to do so, please consider supporting the food bank in your area.

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.