Thanksgiving is a holiday in which people gather to celebrate all that they have to be thankful for: family, friends, good health, to name a few. However, not everyone is able to celebrate Thanksgiving with food on their table.
The USDA defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” In 2018, 14.3 million American households were classified as having food insecurity. This is a staggering number which becomes even more worrisome because 12 million American children live in food-insecure homes today.
Food insecurity can have a profound impact on society and public health. People with food insecurity sometimes live in “food deserts” or areas where it is difficult to buy affordable and fresh foods. In such areas, supermarkets are few and far between, while fast food restaurants are numerous. Thus, it is no surprise that food insecurity is associated with a rise in obesity in at least twelve states. People who live in food deserts often resort to eating inexpensive, calorically dense foods with poor nutritional value.
To solve food insecurity in America, a nonprofit organization called the Fair Food Network in Detroit, MI (one of the nation’s top food deserts) has come up with a solution: the Double Up Food Bucks program. Under this initiative, Michigan Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants get double value for every SNAP dollar they use to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at certain grocery stores. Indeed, the Double Up program is not a panacea for food insecurity: more supermarkets need to be built in food deserts and public transportation improved so that people can reach them. But it shows how states can incentivize and support people with food insecurity to access healthful foods.
Another organization working to end food insecurity is the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. As the state’s largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization, CFBNJ provides millions of meals annually to New Jerseyans living in hunger. Nourish America is proud to announce that the allergen-free donations from our 2019 Thanksgiving Food Drive, in collaboration with ShopRite, will be donated to the CFBNJ in Hillside, NJ so that they can continue giving throughout the holiday season and beyond.
CFBNJ Official Website: https://www.cfbnj.org/
By Shreya Shivakumar