“The eradication of hunger is not just an end in itself: It is a first step toward sustainable development and progress in general, for a hungry man is not a free man. He cannot focus on anything else but securing his next meal.” — Kofi Annan
Food security means that you or your family aren’t worried about paying for groceries, where your next meal might come from, or cutting back on food to pay the bills. It means not having to worry about whether you can afford enough good nutritious food to keep your family healthy. It means freedom from the shackles of hunger – and just as importantly, freedom from the fear that comes with hunger.
Food security is a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.* A recent Gallop poll showed that 55% of Americans worry a great deal about hunger and homelessness.
There’s a good reason for that worry. COVID-19 is an avid reminder that hunger can happen to anyone. It’s not just “those people” or the people who live “there.” When you’re living paycheck to paycheck because you can barely cover your living costs, all it takes is one unexpected financial emergency, and you could find yourself in need of food assistance.
The pandemic saw the number of Utah children facing hunger jump from 1 in 6 to 1 in 5. In southern Utah, it’s a staggering 1 in 4.
The impact of food insecurity and hunger is profound. It impacts every aspect of your life – physical, mental, and emotional. Constantly worrying about where your next meal will come from can cause mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and even posttraumatic stress disorder. Food insecurity puts you at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
The consequences for children are especially devastating. Empty tummies cause children to be irritable, hyperactive, and aggressive. These behavioral issues can distract kids from their school work, leading to developmental delays and learning disabilities. Fifty percent of children facing hunger will need to repeat a grade. And the signs that a child is struggling with hunger can often be hard to spot.
Every person deserves to be free from food insecurity. We are proud to be a part of the solution, to be Fighting Hunger Statewide. It’s no small task – 511,000 Utahns are currently facing food insecurity – but as Kofi Annan so powerfully writes, food security and the eradication of hunger are the first steps toward creating a world of truly sustainable development.
*Food security, as defined by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.