By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Question: What do 50 million Americans have in common?
A few years ago, an insightful response (to the aforementioned question) might have been the number of Americans without health insurance.
But, the Affordable Health Care Act is now the law of the land, which is intended to address the callous oversight of countless Americans being denied access to medical coverage.
With that being the case, what is the correct answer? The 50 million Americans to which I refer all live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.
As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year. This basic lack of sustenance is now being referred to as “food insecurity.”
More specifically, food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, and it exists in 17.2 million households in America. Here are some startling food insecurity statistics to mull over:
• Rates of food insecurity are substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, among households with children headed by single parents (35.1 percent of female-headed households with children are food-insecure) and among Black and Hispanic households.
• Food insecurity is most common in large cities but still exists in rural areas, suburbs and other outlying areas around large cities. • 25 percent of households with children living in large cities are food insecure.
• The typical (median) food-secure household spent 27 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition.
• 59 percent of food-insecure households reported that in the previous month they had participated in one or more of the three largest federal food and nutrition assistance programs: SNAP (formerly food stamps), School Lunch and WIC.
There is no excuse or rational for 50 million Americans (16 million of which are children) to grapple with hunger in this nation of plenty. It’s a national disgrace plain and simple.
Feeding America, through its more than 200 community food banks, does an incredible job of helping to distribute over 3 billion pounds of food to America annually. We should all contribute to this crucial endeavor.