Fact: 1 in 6 Americans struggles to get enough to eat. And further, food insecurity exists in virtually every community in the United States.
Reading about hunger statistics in America is always a punch to the gut. California which grows 1/3 of America’s vegetables, and 2/3 of the country’s fruit, and sometimes, as I’m walking around the city, or running errands in the suburbs, I’m struck by the abundance I see. Farmer’s markets and grocery stores piled high with good, healthy food. All that abundance almost makes it hard to imagine that those hunger numbers are real. But they are indeed real.
And the profile of a family who struggles with hunger in America is different than what you might think. These are people who have jobs and are seeking education, but who also struggle with medical hardships and low-wages. They sometimes have to choose between buying food for their family and paying for transportation to get to their job, or choose between buying food and medicine. Sometimes they have to buy the cheapest, nutrition-lacking options, just to have enough food to feed their family (and that poor quality food can cause or exacerbate health problems.)
They are your neighbors. They are senior citizens in your community that you say hello to as you go about your day. They are kids at your school.
Summer is especially hard on kids in need (or kids who struggle with hunger), because without a regular school schedule, they don’t have access to daily school meals — free or reduced breakfasts or lunches. And there are issues of food deserts too — whole neighborhoods that don’t have real access to fresh, healthy produce.