How Everyday People Can Support the Fight Against Hunger in the United States
There are many core factors that can influence the quality of a person’s life, but few have a greater daily impact than hunger. Hunger and food insecurity upset the lives of people in the United States every day, affecting everything from general health all the way to how successful they can be in life.
Let’s take a look at hunger in the United States—what it is, who it impacts and what you can do to help.
What is Hunger in America—and Why Does it Matter?
For the average person, hunger is an indication that it is time to eat their next meal. Of course, when we discuss hunger rates in the United States, we do not mean feeling a bit peckish. To fully understand the risks and challenges that ongoing hunger can bring, we must consider what we mean by hunger and how big the problem really is.
When we say hunger, we are referring to a problem that people are facing in every city in the United States—the inability to reliably access appropriate levels of adequate nutrition.
Hunger wears many faces in the United States. It is seen in the children who only have access to food when they are at school, the coworker who gets by on little snacks throughout the day and only seems to eat when food is freely available at work, as well as the many Americans experiencing homelessness.
There is a near-endless list of circumstances that can lead to a person’s inability to reliably access food—from poverty to disasters—and the costs of this problem can impact every aspect of their lives. The people in America who are going hungry may not know where their next meal is coming from, when their next meal is going to be, or when they will be able to afford food next.
The problem is vast, and it is impacting individuals and families on a shocking scale.
Understanding the scope of a problem isn’t always easy when it isn’t right in front of you. Focusing on the actual numbers behind U.S. hunger can help you to better understand just how big this problem really is.
United States Hunger Statistics:
● Hunger impacts 33.8 million people in the United States every day
● 12.5 percent of children grow up in food-insecure homes and may experience ongoing problems for this reason
● 5.1 million U.S. households rank extremely low on food security
● Single-parent households are more likely to struggle with food insecurity, affecting 24.3 percent of households headed by women and 16.2 percent of households headed by men
Many people think hunger is something that isn’t common, but in reality it is often something that happens behind closed doors. People who experience food insecurity may not be comfortable talking about it. Worse, many of them can carry shame, even though access to food should be a basic human right. This often leads people to suffer in silence.
Twenty percent of the food we consume daily is used to power our brains, so it is not a surprise that experiencing food insecurity can impact the human mind. Children who consistently experience hunger growing up often fall behind in school because they may struggle to focus or think critically, and 80 percent of teachers reported seeing this in classrooms. These same problems can impact individuals in the workplace, leading them to struggle with professional performance too.
Hunger is commonly associated with mental health problems, like anxiety and depression. People who experience food insecurity can struggle to connect, miss out on key social milestones, and may even continue to struggle with their health after they have more reliable access to food.
Persistent hunger can negatively affect people of all ages. Food-insecure people can be more prone to illnesses and diseases, and they may even be more likely to experience injuries due to a lack of adequate nutrition.
Hunger is a very isolating struggle, and it can impact every major aspect of a person’s life.
The History of Hunger in America
The reality is that hunger has been prevalent in America since its founding in 1776, a problem shared by virtually every country in the world. During the early years of America’s development and in the centuries that followed, it was common for families to experience food insecurity due to financial problems and poor harvests. In fact, many children worked to help their families be able to afford food.
Before the 1900s, there was no real understanding of the severity of the hunger problem in the United States. However, in 1990, the federal government wanted to understand how big the problem really was. A survey was drafted by the U.S. Food Security Measurement Project, and academics and experts began to work together to truly measure hunger in America.
In the decades that have followed, more research and more programs have been used to understand and reduce hunger for U.S. citizens. Following the 2008 financial crisis, hunger levels in the United States grew, impacting the most vulnerable households the most. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced a new plan to track food insecurity in relation to health to gain a better understanding of how hunger impacts health and what conditions it may cause.
True Stories of American Hunger
Every day, American citizens face many challenges that influence their lives for better or worse. Although hunger is a problem that can impact many people in the same way, the fact is that stories of hunger in America are very diverse. They can impact people from all different backgrounds, and people can end up going hungry for many different reasons.
To better understand hunger in America, you can explore these stories about supporting those who are impacted.
The Effects of Solving Hunger for Those in Need
The negative effects of food insecurity are devastating, but it is important to realize what happens when we provide access to food for those in need. Solving hunger is not an easy task, but it is absolutely worth it. Food accessibility helps everyday people to reach new heights.
When a person first gains reliable access to food, they may experience true comfort for the first time in their lives. While the lingering marks of food insecurity can and do follow people, they can also fade with time. Someone who knows where their next meal is coming from and can count on it will have one less thing to worry about—and this is no small thing. It is life-changing.
In every way, giving people access to high-quality food helps to better support their overall health. Adequate nutrition can give our minds and bodies what they need to operate, and this can have a life-saving difference for these individuals. Gaining access to good nutrition helps people to feel better, grow healthier and fight against a long list of diseases.
As people have consistent access to nutrition, it is natural for their performance to improve in all that they do. Children can focus more in class. Parents have more patience with their children. A friend may be more comfortable attending events or spending time with those that love them. When people are well-fed, they are able to chase their dreams, be more active and can carve out the future they want to see for themselves.
Feeding those who are going hungry does not just solve one problem—it solves many and gives people a chance to accomplish more than they ever imagined.
Terms to Know When Talking About Local and Global Hunger
Discussing hunger is one of the most important things that we can do in America, but some people can feel lost while trying to research the problem. Understanding the definitions of essential terms can help you to join the conversation and better understand the problem and its impacts.
Terms on Hunger to Know:
● Hunger: A lack of food often paired with discomfort, weakness and dizziness.
● Food Insecurity: Not having access to adequate amounts of food or good quality food either as an individual or family for personal or economic reasons.
● Famine: Food scarcity, often impacting a high number of people.
● Food Equity: When people are given the basic food resources that they need for comfort and survival.
● Food Crisis: When a specific area or community experiences a sudden spike in food shortages and food insecurity.
● Malnutrition: Deficiencies related to diet, food access, or food quality that can lead to ongoing problems and diseases.
● Undernutrition: Physical impairments associated with food deprivation, often resulting in fogginess, dizziness, weakness, weight loss, and a compromised immune system.
How The Salvation Army Fights Hunger in America
The Salvation Army is a non-profit organization that is fighting the effects of poverty, and is well-known for its fight against hunger. Aiming to increase accessibility to adequate nutrition regardless of where a person lives or what their financial status is, The Salvation Army tackles hunger through a variety of programs and services.
Solving hunger cannot be accomplished through one set process for everyone. This is why The Salvation Army offers various meal programs to meet the needs of individuals who are currently facing many different circumstances. The programs are used to feed a high volume of people through distribution centers, meal deliveries, and shelters around the United States.
For many people around the U.S., clear and convenient access to food is not guaranteed. Food pantries help to bridge the gap by providing communities with access to a variety of foods, including everything from produce to frozen meals. This makes it easier for people coping with food insecurity to access healthy food for the week.
Many of the best foods for us can be grown, and The Salvation Army uses community gardens to meet this need. By maintaining gardens, communities can gain access to delicious and nutritious food that is grown locally.
How to Make a Difference with Hunger in America
The number of people and families experiencing food insecurity can vary depending on the economy, natural disasters and life factors. There is no doubt about it—the best way to solve hunger in America is through community. You can take many action steps to help those in need gain access to these resources.
Every single year, volunteers make a huge positive impact on those in need. As important as these problems are, there isn’t always funding to pay for support. This is where volunteers come in.
As a volunteer, you can serve your community and help to tackle hunger in your local area, as well as in areas that have a high level of food insecurity. Your time and hard work can help local support programs to serve more people.
You can volunteer with many types of programs, including:
● Food pantries
● Community gardens
● Soup kitchens
● Outreach programs
Many people experience hunger daily because they do not have money to purchase food or transportation to obtain food. Donations play a key role in helping to address hunger all around the world.
To ensure that your money supports as many people as possible, look for groups and non-profits that are specifically focused on solving hunger. These groups often have predetermined distribution methods, making it easy for them to put money where it needs to go to serve the most people. The Salvation Army accepts monetary donations and donated goods to support those in need.
Hunger is a large problem in the United States, but people do not always realize the magnitude of this particular issue. Learning more about hunger and the very real impacts that come with it can help you to better understand this issue, empowering you to do more to help with it. Education creates understanding, and it can be even better if you help to educate others on hunger, what organizations like The Salvation Army are doing and the ways we all can help.
Tackling Hunger in America and Offering Support
The best way to change hunger rates in America is to do what you can to support those in need. By educating yourself and looking to partner with non-profit organizations that aid with these problems, you can have a lasting positive impact that will change lives. Getting involved is a way to do good that can make a life-changing difference for your fellow Americans.
To learn more about the ongoing hunger problem in the United States and how to help those in need, explore our resources at Caring Magazine, where we believe you can do good right where you are and be the reason somebody believes in goodness.