Ending Food Insecurity Means ‘All of Taking Care of All of Us’
Updated: Aug 31
What is food insecurity and how do we help stop it?
“Before White Pony Express, my family ate Top Ramen noodles three times a day for the last week of every month. Now we have really good food all month long and a variety we could not have imagined!”
—White Pony Express Recipient
The United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA) defines food insecurity as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity afflicted 10.5% of American households. Its pervasiveness has only grown since, more than doubling to an estimated 23% of households. For households with children, this is an even greater issue, with about 27.5% to 29.5% facing food insecurity as of June 2020. Food insecurity is also far from a distinctly American epidemic.
"The problem is hardly unique to the U.S. According to the United Nations World Food Program, the global pandemic has the chance to double the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity, from 135 million in 2019 to 265 million in 2020." [NPR -"Food Insecurity in The U.S. By The Numbers"]
California is a prime example of food insecurity among U.S. states. Approximately 40% of low-income adult Californians are not able to buy enough food, according to the state government. Additionally, 1 in 4 children experience food insufficiency. Data from the California Association of Food Banks indicate that around eight million Californians are uncertain about when and where they will next obtain their next meal—something so fundamentally essential to their survival.
Furthermore, food insecurity is as intersectional as it is an individual lived experience. Black households experience food insecurity at nearly twice the rate as white households, and the same can be said for Hispanic Americans.
It’s important to note, however, that food insecurity within the U.S. is not a product of limited supply relative to demand. In reality, 30-40% of all food produced is wasted each year, and just 30% of that food waste is estimated to be enough to cover the total dietary needs of every hungry person in the country.