Everyone needs food, no matter how basic or complex. The fact is, our human bodies, as with all living organisms needs food.
Yet, what has long been an issue, is that there are many people who are insecure about food. What this means is that, individuals or heads of households of a family often times do not know if they are able to put food on the table for various reasons. Many times, income and finances are the case.
These days, it’s difficult to sometimes see who may be insecure about food. In high school, I recalled a story of how a pharmacy technician we knew as a family oftentimes went to a shelter or food bank for food several days a week. It wasn’t as if she fell upon difficult times, she made a few mistakes in life, got her life back together, and by trying to become a pharmacy technician, she had to pay back loans, which meant that she often times didn’t have enough money for food. And then, I read an article recently on National Geographic of how it’s difficult nowadays to tell who may or may not be food insecure. Sometimes, it could be a graduate student, a single mother, or the local professional sitting in a cubicle right next to you.
I haven’t even begun to talk about the fact that food insecurity, especially purchasing healthy food products like produce relates to chronic disease. The fact first is that there are many around us who fall into the category of food insecurity and there are resources out there. From food banks to SNAP funds to young moms through Women Infant and Children (WIC), there are funds available out there to help those who may wonder how they are able to purchase food for the next meal. If it weren’t such an issue, the White House recently wouldn’t have asked Congress for funding to provide meals for kids during the summer.
And then, there is the healthy aspect of food purchase. It’s sad these days, when because of time constraints, parents buy their kids and themselves fast food (and yes, Starbucks actually falls into the category of fast food). Junk food is a norm at sports venues, parties, group study sessions, happy hour, or even the occasional family home meal. Even more crazy, is that many suburban areas, even in California have food deserts, which are regions where there is a lack of grocery stores to purchase produce or healthy products. At a meeting I attended, it was calculated that in a Bay Area suburban city of over 100,000 residents, a region within this city has no grocery store (Raleys, Safeway, independent small grocery store), within 10 miles of the neighborhood. For those who don’t have cars and are limited to public transportation, 10 miles is quite far. Take it from me, where as a college students YEARS back, having to bike to the local market about 3 miles away, come back with about 2 weeks of groceries, with only a single basket. It’s hard. Try doing this with young children. Even harder, I’m sure.
To my audience out there, food insecurity is a real. Nowadays, it really is difficult to know who may be suffering from food insecurity. If you know someone who is, help them out by giving them a meal or two. Please share with them local resources if they’re available. Most of all, don’t just turn a blind eye to this issue. It’s not just kids who may suffer from food insecurity. Adults suffer from it too. Not only that, but food deserts exist in suburban areas, and this is one reason why there are higher rates of obesity and risk of chronic disease. So…for all the public health folks out there…even community advocates who may read my blog, I know there are a lot of pressing issues that exist in our world. Yet, given the fact that having food, let alone healthy food, is something we all need, I really want to bring to light the fact that food insecurity is an issue, and I hope that we can solve this basic issue rather than argue or debate about the next best app that’s available on the market.