If you’re reading this, you may not be aware of food insecurity.
Today, on World Health Day, we would like to talk about hunger. And not the kind of hunger like, “I’m feeling kinda snacky.” We are talking about deeper hunger tied to poverty, and that includes not knowing where the next meal is coming from. Among us, thirty-four million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.
The USDA defines food insecurity as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life.” So it’s also safe to assume that you probably interact with people who have to choose between rent and food or who have just enough to make sure the kids eat.
Hunger is directly in front of all of us. Because you’re here, it may be safe to assume you are not overly concerned about where your next meal is coming from. Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the country makes the point that daily hunger is correlated with higher incidences of heart disease. “According to the USDA, there is a strong connection between hunger and chronic diseases.”
Food deserts in our country
In the United States, processed, pre-packaged or quick fast food can contain high amounts of Omega-6s which can affect metabolic function and cause inflammation, which often looks like a well-fed person. In extreme rural and urban areas, access to fresh foods is a challenge. Perhaps you’ve heard of food deserts? They are regions where people have limited access to healthful and affordable food. So, for example, if you know someone who lives more than a mile from fresh fruits and vegetables, they are living in a food desert.
Each person has the power to make an impact.
So we’ve established that addressing hunger is a priority; what should we do now? Each of us can do our part. Governor Evers in Wisconsin recently did his part in addressing this very problem last year when he announced a bill that ensures that “free meals would be provided to all students who qualify for free and reduced meals, as well as significantly decrease the cost for students paying full price.” We love seeing it and think it’s terrific.
As always, there is plenty to do for anyone who wishes to lend a hand. Here are three easy ways to help hungry people:
(list provided by Make a Wish Foundation)
BONUS: Doesn’t it feel so great to help others?
Grandma knows. So does your best friend. There must be hundreds of ways to feel great about helping others, but here are the big three: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
We have a physical response in the form of a dopamine spike when we connect with people or feel rewarded: human connection feels great.
We have an emotional release when we share sadness or stress with trusted people: a problem shared is a problem halved.
In the end, we can experience a kind of spiritual comfort in knowing that we are not alone: we each have our challenges, and yet we do have each other.