While it may be hard to believe, there are many people in your community and within the United States that struggle to keep their cupboards and refrigerators full of nutritious food. Even though you may not see them struggling every day, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there.
As September is Hunger Action Month, we want to erase the stigma around food insecurity and learn how to conquer it through educating ourselves on the harsh realities of hunger in our communities.
- Misconception: America doesn’t have a hunger problem.
Truth: About 11.8% of people in the United States experience food insecurity. That’s about 38 million people, which is more than the population of Canada. With rising food prices, high housing costs and unexpected expenses, many families cannot afford to consistently put food on the table and may go to bed hungry.
- Misconception: Only unemployed people need food assistance.
Truth: According to Feeding America, 40% of their current clients are seeking food assistance for the first time due to having their work hours reduced, being furloughed, and having unexpected expenses during the COVID-19 Pandemic. While many households experiencing food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs, they still seek out to their local food banks and other food programs for support.
- Misconception: You drive a nice car, so you must not need food assistance.
Truth: Sometimes people must make the difficult decision of choosing between life’s necessities. If having a car is essential to get to work, drop the children off at school and access medical care – especially when public transportation is unavailable, people must figure out how much they can stretch their budget to meet their needs. This may mean limiting the amount of money going towards groceries.
- Misconception: Hunger is only an issue in urban areas because people in rural areas can grow their own food.
Truth: Rural communities tend to struggle more with food insecurity than urban areas. Living in a rural community comes with unique challenges such as the nearest grocery store or food pantry being further away from home than other communities and job opportunities that tend to be concentrated in low-wage industries. About 63% of counties in the United States are rural, and 91% of those counties have the highest rates of food insecurity.
- Misconception: I can’t do much to help support food insecurity in my community.
Truth: There are plenty of ways to contribute to feeding people in need. You could donate non-perishable food items to your local food bank or stop by a local farm or restaurant to see if they would be willing to donate food instead of throwing it away. Join a food drive where you can donate food and help distribute goods to local food pantries or consider bringing meals to seniors who are unable to go to the grocery store. There are an endless number of ways you could help eliminate hunger, and just know that a little help goes a long way.
How Can We Help Fight Hunger In Our Community?
There are many ways to help fight hunger in our communities, but here are a few options:
- Donate food to a local drive, pantry or food insecurity program. All month long (9/1-9/30), all Northeast Credit Union branches are collecting food for local food programs around New Hampshire & Maine.
- Donate your time to assist your local food kitchen or food insecurity program, like Meals on Wheels.