Assignment 2.2: The Public Needs to Know – 49 Million People are Experiencing Hunger in America Lisa Jenkins
The economic conditions surrounding our food pantries today are that the demand from patrons experiencing food insecurity has risen dramatically, while donations from outside sources are lessening. Other factors include the increasingly higher cost of fuel and food, a change in desire for fresh foods versus canned, the ability to store these types of foods and the willingness for enough volunteers to lend a hand. Food pantries depend on a large amount of donations from large food chains and manufacturers. These types of donations are decreasing due to new technologies in the industry that help optimize productions, therefore lessening the amount of product that is overproduced. According to Feeding America, “Hunger in America exists for nearly 49 million people. That is one in six of the U.S. population – including more than one in five children.” (http://feedingamerica.org 2012) The USDA reports that 1 in 4 Americans access programs that provide food assistance through the federal government. (www.USDA.gov 2012 p. 1)The unemployment rate for 2011 was 8.9%, a small decrease from previous years. (www.USDA.gov 2012 p. 5) It appears that the economy of America is not improving. Food assistance is no longer only for the homeless and unemployed. A majority of patrons receiving food assistance from food pantries report that at least one adult is employed in the household. Food insecurity does not only exist in the suburbs anymore. Growing populations of those in need of food assistance live in rural areas and do not always have access to food pantries. Food insecurity is growing expeditiously in the U.S. and currently exists in every county in America.
More women, children and elderly are experiencing food insecurity than ever before. The patrons of food pantries are no longer visiting only in emergency situations. The trend now is for those patrons to use food pantries to supplement their food sources on a regular basis. The special needs of those served at food pantries include the need and desire for fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and proteins to ensure proper nutritional needs are being met. Reports show that children and adults that are not eating properly will suffer physically and mentally in regards to their health. This is especially important with children who are still developing. Children that are food insecure will most likely not do well academically; have lower test scores, experience depression and behavioral problems in school. Women that are not receiving proper nutrition during pregnancy may experience complications during child birth and could give birth to low birth weight babies. Adults need access to nutritional foods so that they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and try to keep their self-esteem during this difficult time. The elderly may have food restrictions due to current medications that are taken for health reasons or might be handicapped and need assistance getting food delivered or prepared. The importance of helping those in need of receiving access to nutritional foods is of the utmost importance to the future of our nation.
Some of the programs provided by Feeding America for Children are: The Kids Café, Back Pack Program, Summer Food Program, and The School Pantry Program. Essentially the purpose of each of these programs is to provide nutritious meals for children in need. The Kids Café provides meals and snacks at after school programs and churches. The Back Pack Program sends nutritious foods and snacks home with school children to provide food they might not have otherwise received over the week end. The Summer Food Program provides meals during the summer at safe and easy to access locations. Several programs are also available for pregnant women and the elderly. The National Produce Program has...
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