“Feeding my kids is difficult, I mean, they eat a lot, and those times, if you don’t always have enough, you know, you worry about how you are going to feed them: where is the next meal going to come from . . . you know, so it has its struggles,” these were Lacy’s words about her struggle with feeding her children. It is not just Lacy that worries about how to feed her household, but as well, many others do not get to find what to eat, do not have the money to buy food, and do not know where or who to turn to in search of their daily bread.

Food insecurity is a condition in which individuals, families, and households find it hard to feed themselves. According to fao.org, food insecurity “exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food.” Oftentimes, most food insecure families and persons do not have the economic means of providing for themselves. For instance, unemployed families and retired grandparents do not have income and even when they have, these incomes are not tangible enough for them to get something to feed their large families.

The state of Tennessee ranks 13th among food insecure states in America. In fact, Feedingamerica.org indicates that “people struggle with hunger in every county and congressional district in Tennessee.” The organization notes that in Tennessee 1 out of 7 people live in hunger and 1 out of 5 children live in hunger. Similarly, Netfoodbank.org notes that the 2011 Census data “reveals that there are 98,292 people (1 out of every 5 residents) living in poverty in Northeast Tennessee (out of a general population of 507,691).”Netfoodbank added that “more than 1 in 4 children under age 18 (29,474 children) live in poverty” in Northeast Tennessee. Going by these statistics, it could be safe to assume that Northeast Tennessee is food insecure.

What Are the Causes and Consequences of Food Insecurity?

According to Feedingamerica.org, there are three causes of food insecurity:

• Unemployment,

• Poverty,

• Poor home-ownership rates.

Frac.org’s 2018 research shows that households with children have the highest food hardship. This is because there is a high incident of unemployment and underemployment in families with children. In other to survive, families engage in trade offs. For instance, a family prioritizes buying unhealthy food instead of healthy food to eat.

Similarly, unhealthy feeding also comes with several consequences. Going by United Health Foundation the effects of food insecurity Ranges from the lack of nutritional food to the susceptibility of individuals and children to chronic diseases such as:

• obesity

• heart diseases

• poor oral health

• anxiety

• depression

• diabetes

• birth disorder

• stomach pains

• asthma

Feedingamerica.org notes that “Fifty-eight percent of households have at least one member with high blood pressure and 33 percent have at least one member with diabetes.” Eating meals that are not rich in nutrients leads to diseases and most often affects individuals and they find it had to treat their diseases. Also, young children become prone to different diseases such as stomach pains and cold. This challenge could also make children vulnerable to societal vices.

The Summer Food Box Program

The assistance and support of nonprofits like Good Samaritan Ministries cannot be underemphasized. To combat food insecurity in the Northeast Tennessee region, the organization this summer continues in their yearly summer food box donation to low-income households. This program is organized to help families with children to be able to feed their children during the summer. This intervention is important because children will no longer be in school and as a result, might not be able to have breakfast and lunch since the government makes subsidized food available to low-income household children in school. Hence, school holidays increase household expenditures as families need to provide more in the home.

The food boxes are distributed to families in May, June, and July. For each of these months’ caregivers: parents and grandparents can come to get a food box. The items of the food box have several weeks worth of items to ensure that the entire family is fed. Families should never have to choose between feeding their families and keeping their lights on.

Get Involved

Building a society where everyone can live, and feed healthily is our priority.  Good Samaritan Ministries appreciates contributions and donation from individuals and groups.

⮚ You can donate $35, which is the cost of a family food box for one month or you can donate $105 which is a cost of food box donation for three months.

⮚ Another way to get involved is by volunteering with us.

Let’s make a healthy and safe community, let’s kick poverty out this summer!

 Written by: Oluwafisayo Ogundoro