When food is not sustained in an environment, to nourish and fill the stomachs of people, then it is called food insecurity. One of the biggest issues related to health and nutrition in the United States is not being able to keep food on the table of households. Over 42 million Americans in recent 2015 were in food insecurity; meaning they were “Uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food because had insufficient money or other resources.” (Coleman-Jensen et al. 2016) On an unlikely term, there are some households that are very poor which raises a question mark to many people.
This brings us to the point as to the nutrients in food, food-insecure also means the lack of nutrients or malnutrition, which is why some poor households are considered “food secure” because they have plenty of cheap junk food that lacks the nutrients our body needs. So, they are still food insecure. The goal of the government is to provide as much help financially so that they can turn this nation into a food secure place.
In the 1980’s USDA took surveys on if the food in households were sufficient enough and concluded in 1990 that there was a definite measure of food insecurity. These surveys are conducted annually to refresh statistics on if food security has increased or decreased over a year, also if the programs that the government is supplying are helping or if they need to be improved. Starting In 1995, in the course of a year, there were more than 12 million households in the United States that were in food insecurity.
This indicates that the issue of not having enough food has been a problem for decades. To get a more precise idea of who and where people were that lacked the most food; FNS took control and made a highly detailed questionnaire at which had been tested many times by experts by the Census Bureau’s center and was later revealed to America for the first time in April 1995 as a current population survey. The goal of the questionnaire was to help the government to be able to tell what households were having the most food insecurity issue. Although, there were some flaws that interfered with the ability to be able to tell who really needed food and who didn’t; such as, households having back up food or other ways to get food when they needed it. For Example, borrowed money to buy food or having reliable access to the food banks. Therefore, the questionnaire would have to be altered to be even more specific than before, to receive a better and more straightforward result as to who really needs food compared to others. There were then levels added that specified food insecurity and how drastic it was. With the many levels that showed just how bad food insecurity was, Q53-54 being the least concerning. This means a household would either be boarder line or almost to running out of money to restock their food. Next, Q55-58 and Q32, which indicated that there was a low chance of having food insecurity, but again, families had to majorly portion their meals, so they wouldn’t run out. Then, there’s Q24-25, Q35-38 which are specified for kids that are hungry and are limited to what they can eat. Q40-44, Q47 and Q50 are related to specifically adults that are in the state of being very hungry. Lastly, the most severe food insecurity level falls into the Q28-29, at which are the people who are prioritized first and are the hungriest with the inability to get food. FNS then created an 18-question survey in minimal questions were able to be answered, the people or households would be put into the food insecure group. With the help of this questionnaire and survey, FNS and other organizations were able to pinpoint 11.9 million families in food insecurity. While 7.8 million families were more worried about running out of food rather than being hungry. 3.3 million families, mainly consisting of adults were concerned with little hunger and reduced food consumption. On the other hand, over 800,000 families were food insecure and in serious hunger. Even though there were many family’s food insecure or hungry; even both, many of the children in those households were not as hungry due to smaller stomachs and not having to consume as much to be full and parents sacrificing. “Thirty-five percent of poor households had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year compared with 8 percent of households with incomes above the poverty line.” (Waves, 2005, p 10-11)
An uncomfortable, uneasy feeling in one’s stomach; also known as hunger. The drastic feeling that people get with food insecurity must go through every day. Lacking appropriate nutrients in a person’s active life over a course of time is called malnutrition. This is why it is important to keep the household’s food secured so that one does not get weak or sick from lacking nutrition in food. When it comes to nutrition, it means healthier foods that tend to be more expensive than junk food and that is a huge problem in today’s world, which is a big factor as to why households are food insecure and malnutritional. Junk food is cheap and infilling which leads to more hunger and less nutrients obtained from food.
30% of children whose families had their welfare taken are more than likely going to be or already have been hospitalized since they were born. While 90% may have been sent to an emergency department with suffering from malnutrition. Also; in the year of 2003, roughly 90% of kids younger than 18 had a health status as poor or low. As said before, malnutrition can have a very negative effect on the body. For example, a blood iron deficiency is known as anemia.
Food insecurity in pregnant women is also very a dangerous obstacle to deal with. The nutrients consumed by the mother go directly to the baby and if there isn’t enough food nor enough nutrients then the baby could be in danger and at risk of birth defects. Risks to food insecure, expecting mothers include; low body weight, sickle-cell, or a lead level of greater than 10 DL. It is so important for any mother expecting a baby to get into a government-funded program to get the food and nutrients she needs to help her, and the baby stays healthy. Not only does food insecurity have an impact on pregnant mothers and babies. Kindergarteners (ages 6) to the third grade (ages 8) have shown negative changes to their curriculum, especially in the subjects, reading and math. These tend to be the ages and grades at which food insecurity is at its all-time high in households. Although; studies have shown that from those school grades, not having enough food is worse in girls than it is in boys. Even though the age ranges listed above tend to have a lesser physical outcome; adolescences from ages 12-17 tend to have a lesser psychosocial outcome, which affects social and behavioral status. Finally, it is important; for the sake of our minds, body, and emotional status, to help be in food security for people who really need it in America.
The elderly people are another major group of the American population that tends to have food insecurity the most. 6% of the elderly community are food insecure while 1.7% are drastically in food insecurity, meaning that they are close to; if not already, in hunger conditions. 1 in 9 families in 2003, experienced a lack of being food secure, that is roughly 12.6 million households. At which, half of that population is older adults or the elderly. By using the 18-term question system, the US Census Bureau indicated that 3.4 million elderly were food insecure because they didn’t have an income. While 2% of the 3.4 million were in severe food insecurity. To help resolve this issue, a program called meals on wheels by OAANP contributes meals to homes and delivers them directly. This program mainly targeted the elderly crowd in need of meals. The OAANP delivered over 1.3 million meals to 36,000 elderly people that needed a break from being food insecure. Unfortunately, today the OAANP is struggling to keep up with funding due to inflation of money in the economy and that supply is greater than demand. 40% of the elderly population are still on waiting lists to get receive their food.
The government contributes many programs to help the people that are in deep food insecurity or close to it. As long as the economy is in good shape then these programs will be successful in helping communities and the public all over America. The specific programs that are dedicated to specific age groups, genders and types of people are a key to turning the US into a more food security nation. Food security is very important to keep a person functioning properly in the everyday world and the government always needs to make sure that, the programs given are properly and fully funded so people can get their families and themselves fed without the worry every day of putting food on the table. One of America’s hugest networks; Feeding America, has provided 200 foods and over 60,000 pantries filled with nutritious food and has even donated over 3 billion pounds worth of food in a course of a year. By having the government funds, food insecurity will have a major decrease if the food insecure population and with more added programs, the people in food insecurity will turn into food security in a profound way.