How Food Insecurity is Affecting Rural AmericaOctober 26, 2017 | 9:44 am |
Food insecurity remains a national concern in the United States, however, we often fail to realize its impact unless it directly affects us. Can you imagine what it must feel like to not know when you’ll have your next meal?
The USDA defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Food deserts are defined by USDA as “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.”
It is an unfortunate state that even today many rural communities in America are struggling to get access to nutritious, affordable food. Even neighborhoods in major cities like Chicago have food deserts. Also, some non-metropolitan areas of the U.S. are still relying solely on one single grocery store for their staples. If that store closes, they are faced with the possibility of not anywhere to purchase fresh food.
According to Food Trust Report, nearly 8% of the total rural population in the United States is residing in areas lacking food access. Of this, nearly 35% also belong to a low-income group. That is a big chunk of the population facing hunger every day. With no access to food within 10 miles, these people often struggle to get even one decent meal in a day. Due to this, they face many diet-related issues and sometimes even major health hazards.
The situation is analogous even in the school settings of rural and urban remote locations. Accessible food is limited and often unhealthy in these environments and children lack basic nutrition in their diet. This situation thus leads to a negative impact on health, resulting in obesity or malnutrition. According to Science Daily, the researchers said, “a combination of rising college costs, more low-income and first-generation students attending college, and changing demographic trends are making this issue more significant than it may have been in the past.”
College students try to get multiple jobs to pay off for their tuition and other living expenses. In the struggle to make ends meet, they often skip meals to save for their education.
Why food insecurity is so prevalent in parts of America
Poverty: Rural and low-income communities are still struggling to consume healthy fare as the cost is difficult to bear. The struggle between paying for bills and food leads to decreased consumption of a wholesome meal. Hence, the majority of this population live in food insecurity all their lives.
Location: Not owning a vehicle is one of the key barriers to food access. People are often forced to walk or rely on public transport to get to the basic grocery store. So, if the store is not within their reach, it limits their access to certain food resulting in insecurity
Age: According to Feeding America, only 42% of eligible seniors are enrolled and receiving SNAP benefits. Because of lack of funds and mobility, senior citizens stock up whatever they could with the limited resources that they have. Consequently, they face hunger in their golden years of retirement with little to no help coming on their way
Unemployment: The rural and remote locations have limited jobs to offer and the ones available often pay lower wages. Most of the high paying job opportunities are found in the cities. Long commutes and lack of transport often make the option of working in the city out of question for people in rural areas.
What can we do?
Here are 2 ways that you can join our fight to end hunger: