As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it is hard to believe that hunger would be a serious issue in the United States. However, it now stands that well over 40 million Americans face this in their daily lives. Many families across the country are food insecure, finding it hard to sufficiently feed all members of the household. Poverty is one of many socio-economic factors that is a root cause of hunger in the United States.
Food insecurity results in malnutrition as families are forced to eat less frequently, feeding themselves smaller portions of unhealthy food. Most food-insecure families are living in rural areas where access to affordable and nutritious fruits and vegetables are few and far between. While food assistance programs are becoming more prominent in America, there are still limits on how much assistance a household can receive from a food bank. As a result, families are more often cooking with processed substitutes that they received from the aforementioned food assistance programs or skipping meals entirely. In fact, hunger can actually lead to obesity from a forced undernourished diet, among other serious health issues.
Breaking it down even further, more than one-third of the Americans facing hunger and food insecurity are children. Most guardians are making a conscious effort to feed their children first, leaving even smaller portions of leftovers for themselves. Malnutrition in children, especially while they are still developing and growing, is detrimental to their future health. These children are missing the essential nutrients to continue a healthy growth through to adolescence. This, in turn, can lead to adverse effects on their performance in school and prevent them from living a generally healthy lifestyle.
Combating this serious issue are organizations aimed to help fight against hunger with various programs set up to assist. One of the most commonly known programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. SNAP provides families with financial assistance to purchase food while also aiming to encourage self-sufficiency. Food banks and food pantries are becoming more popular in communities with a high number of food insecure households. These non-profit organizations collect food donations and distribute them to families in these circumstances. Most public schools are also taking the initiative to end child hunger by providing free or budget-friendly meals to children of food insecure households during the school day.
More and more in the United States, programs and strategies are being executed every day to help end the fight against hunger. The most important of all is recognition of the issue at large, and actively seeking ways to get involved.