As the world population grows so does the amount of people that live without food. For decades, Americans have been known to aid other countries that were faced with hunger problems. Many people do not realize that hunger and malnutrition is a problem that many Americans face on a daily basis.
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In America, one of top developed countries, more than forty million Americans need government help to put food on the table. We often overlook how many hungry people there actually are in the United States. Studies have shown that a large percentage of Americans struggle to keep food on the table in order to support their families. Programs such as Meals on Wheels, The First Class Meal Service and the Healthy, Hungry Kids Act are some anti-hunger programs being implemented by non-profits and schools to address the low food security and how wasted food directly correlates to hunger in the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food insecurity can be defined as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The demographic of hungry people is increasingly becoming a serious problem. Students attending Washington University, St. Louis proposed to add an innovative service that would serve the needs of food-insecure populations by repurposing post offices that have closed down due to decreased amounts of mail and unemployment (Pathi, Krutika). Most of the hungry are adults but households below the poverty line are three times more likely to experience extremely low food insecurity compared to average households (Price, Tom). By repurposing old post offices, The First Class Meal Service aims to support those who are food insecure to the roughly 1.4 million people living in the Los Angeles County who dont have food (Pathi, Krutika). Even though The United States is known as a wealthy country there are many people who cant afford to buy food for their families.
According to the Department of Public Health, about one out of fifteen households in Los Angeles have experienced very low food security leading to extreme hunger. With Los Angeles being a large city, the population of hungry people account for about sixteen percent of everyone living in the country. Under utilized post office spaces would allow food banks to expand their food storing capacity, which would enable food-insecure families easy access to food. The First Class Meal Service is one innovative way Americans have come up with to solve the issue to support those with low food security. It is important for advocates of world hunger to expand anti-hunger programs in order to bring healthy and perishable foods to low-income areas as well as the elderly.
Aside from those who live in low-income areas, hunger in America is also a large problem among the elderly. In 2018, Trump proposed to enact stricter work requirements and rules to qualify for food-aid, which cut programs such as Meals on Wheels, a service that helps the elderly who suffer from food insecurity (Price, Tom). Meals on Wheels is an important service to ensure the elderly have food available since they are so vulnerable from sickness or are bed ridden. Many elderly are unable to have access to food, which is why anti-hunger programs are crucial to help those in need. Nearly nine million seniors face the threat of hunger from an income of $228 a week, which leaves very little for food (Meals on Wheels).
As we get older, many people experience physical declines or financial hardship that makes it harder to do things independently. The decrease in mobility leads seniors at risk of being hungry and alone. Although calorie needs decrease, the elderly have an increased need for certain vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it is especially important for the elderly to eat foods that are nutrient dense. Meals on Wheels is the only federally supported program that specifically caters to the needs of seniors. According to Feeding America, 63 percent of senior households served by Meals on Wheels must choose between food and medical care. With advanced medical care, the growing population of seniors is increasing making it important to address the low food insecurity. At the current rate, the number of food-insecure seniors may grow to more than 8 million by 2050. However, another important demographic regarding hunger in America is the millions of children who go to school hungry.
Around 2010, hunger in America was becoming a big problem leading Congress to enact the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was advocated by Michelle Obama. The purpose of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is to encourage healthy eating by increasing servings of vegetables, fruits and whole grains in place of foods with unhealthy amounts of trans fats and sodium levels. Studies have shown that by eating healthier options, children especially, are less likely to be tired, and more attentive in class, and retain more information (Brody, Jane).
Many schools across America have developed free or reduced school lunches and summer meal programs to ensure children are being fed throughout the year. According to studies conducted there is a link between childhood hunger that can lead to physical, mental and behavioral problems later on. By eating healthy, nutritious food it can help energize students to help them with better concentration and work ethic. Providing nutritious food is more important than many realize. Without proper nutrition, children especially, will be more drawn to junk foods that have no nutritional value or vitamins to keep their bodies healthy. Based on past studies, diets high in trans and saturated fats have a negative impact on learning and memory, reducing substances in the body that support cognitive processing and increasing the risk of neurological dysfunction (Brody, Jane). By supporting school and community efforts that provide nutritious meals for children and promote overall wellness, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a major step forward in the fight to end hunger, improve nutrition, and combat our countryr’s epidemic of obesity. However, a big issue is that not all children and adults are open to changing their diet with more fruits and vegetables, which can result in wasted food.
The amount of food Americans waste in a year would be able to feed the millions who dont have any. Based on a study conducted by Dr. Roni Neff at John Hopkins, he found that if we recovered all wasted food, we could feed 84 percent of the population who are food insecure on a 2,000-calorie diet (Rossman, Sean). Approximately 72 billion pounds of perfectly good food”from every point in the food production cycle”ends up in landfills and incinerators every year. Rescuing this perfectly edible, whole food means feeding families facing hunger (Feeding America). With a big hunger problem amongst the poor and a lot wasted food many people question why the United States still has a hunger problem. Organizations like the Daily Table, a non-profit grocery store, aims to solve Americar’s wasted food problem as well as access to affordable nutrition. At Daily Table, they discount produce making it more affordable for customers to buy, including those on food stamps. Grocers often dont take items that are more than 30 days left before the sell by or best buy dates which contributes to the huge amount of food waste (Kowitt, Beth). Another organization, Feeding America, recently developed a platform called MealConnect that connects businesses with food banks and meal programs. Feeding Americar’s mission is to solve hunger in America by tackling food waste caused by businesses and food chains. According to Feeding America, the amount of wasted food is worth $218 billion each year (Petronzio, Matt). Food loss occurs at every stage of the food production and distribution system making it necessary to preserve food for insecure families that can be eaten instead of thrown away.
Even with the help of non-profits and schools, world hunger continues to show an unstable trend of increases and decreases. The population with low, food security are unable to support their families that will help them provide nutritious meals to their children. Despite what we may think, the solution for hunger in America isnt just supplying more food to the poor but having those who are food secure support those who arent. Americans need to be actively aware of the different programs to ensure that everyone around them is not hungry. By utilizing these programs, we can take unwanted food to donate which can reduce the amount of wasted food that could go to someone in need. Food insecurity does not always mean that a household has no available food to eat. More importantly, food security simply is the struggle to provide nutritional food for a family or oner’s self. The people that suffer from food insecurity are not all living below the poverty line. While many solutions are not conclusive, it is important to see just how hungry America is and how different programs are trying to solve the problem, as well as the amount of food wasted that could help those who are insecure.
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