Food Insecurity Around the Holidays
Food insecurity is not having access to sufficient, safe, nutritious foods in order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. 1 in 8 households suffer from food insecurity, many of them in urban communities and nearly 14 percent of the food insecure are children. Due to many families in New York City living below or on the poverty line many households do not have access to the food that they need so they often will skimp on meals or go without. While foodbanks and food stamps certainly help with this it is not a viable solution to get rid of food insecurity all together.
Food insecurity is caused often by the surprise costs of life, many people living just above the poverty line can be quickly pushed back into poverty by an illness, car repair, unexpected home maintenance and many other factors. Families in these situations are often required to make cuts somewhere and since rent and transportation are both necessities many times the cut is made to buying food. People in an urban community often have higher rates of food insecurity than those in suburban and rural communities. This is due to low wages in relation to the high cost of living. Often families live paycheck to paycheck with most of their money going to rent so choosing between falling behind in utilities or skipping a meal, often food is skimped on.
School lunches and breakfast plans help families decrease the cost of food buying and allow children to get at least one if not two good meals a day. 79% of all city public school children qualify for free or reduced lunches. This also allows children to focus better in school and reduce anxiety, stress, and irritability since they are well fed and don’t have to worry about not eating for the day or where there next meal is going to come from.
Another thing that many families rely on is the foodbank to get the basic necessities for their families. The food banks in New York City provide 62.5 million free meals for New Yorkers that are in need and an estimated 1.4 million families rely on emergency food plans like soup kitchens and food pantries. With just a dollar donation food banks can provide 5 meals to families in need. Bronx families and families with children are most likely to experience food insecurity of the New York suburbs.
Continued funding for these programs as well as reducing food waste are all solutions to ending food insecurity. 40 percent of food that is grown or produced in the United States is thrown out. This is due to over buying and not storing food properly. By redirecting unused food or overbought products to pantries and shelters hunger can be greatly reduced. It is easy for businesses to donate food by working with local organizations who will come pick up their donations at no cost to them. Restaurants are protected by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act when they donate leftover food they have. This allows restaurants to donate food without worrying about the risk of being liable if someone gets sick.
How you Can Help This Thanksgiving
Many would go hungry and be unable to afford a Thanksgiving meal without the help of donation sites and food banks. There are many ways you can help out New York City residents in need this holiday season. Of course getting involved in food drives and donating Thanksgiving ingredients to local shelters and soup kitchens is definitely a big help. A small donation such as a can of corn, gravy, or cranberry sauce can help to lessen the burden of these places finding food for everyone who comes to them for a meal this holiday season. Don’t have time to shop? Donating even $1.00 will help provide a meal for five families this Thanksgiving.
If you’re not cooking this holiday season eat at restaurants that are giving back and donating a portion of the funds from your meal to help end hunger and food insecurity. No Kid Hungry is teaching Friendsgiving cooking classes to help you learn how to cook and pull off a successful Thanksgiving and donating the proceeds to families in needs. A few restaurants like Plates Neighborhood Kitchen and Irregardless Cafe are teaming up with Stop Hunger now and donating a proceed of their sales to the organization to stop hunger.
There are plenty of ways to help out this holiday season in reducing food insecurity and hunger for the families in New York City. From donating to food pantries, helping out at a soup kitchen, or simply buying a meal from a restaurant that is donating part of their proceed you can do your part.