Matthew Morfin and Delta Keller say the last week of the month is always the hardest for feeding their family.
“Usually, our benefits last until the third week of the month and by then, it makes it very complicated and stressful to provide for our children,” Morfin told KABC in Los Angeles recently. “It’s just terrible. It’s a very big struggle,” Keller added.
The family is among the more than 10% of American households that suffer from food insecurity, according to government statistics, and those hardest hit are the disabled and single parents. The Census Bureau reported more than 11.4 million households sought free groceries in April, a 15% increase from last year.
Leslie Bacho, CEO of Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, told Reuters that demand at her food bank in March was up 92%, adding:
“It feels like we’ve moved on from the pandemic. But, for food banks, we’re still deep in a crisis.”
Reuters spoke with four food banks, which told the news service demand was up as much as 125%.
Federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are designed to help those who cannot afford it to buy food at grocery and other stores, but Republican proposals seek to cut SNAP benefits and require single adults without dependents to work more hours to qualify for benefits as part of debt ceiling legislation – an action that could further strain food bank resources.
Hunger experts told The Food Institute grocers and food manufacturers can help mitigate the problem by offering specialized programs for SNAP recipients as well as donating surpluses to food banks.
“On average, grocery stores throw away nearly 10 billion pounds of food per year. Let’s work together to feed people instead of landfills,” said Adam Lowy, founder of Move for Hunger.
CERTAIN DEMOGRAPHICS HIT HARDEST
Data from 2021 indicate a disproportionate number of the disabled and single parents go hungry – and that was before pandemic assistance expired in March, reducing the average benefit by $82 a month.
“In 2023, we should be concerned by other indicators that suggest a growing number of households are experiencing food insecurity and be especially concerned about households with children,” Linda Wilbrecht, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, told Medical Express.
The data from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate Black and Hispanic adults have more trouble feeding themselves and their families than their white counterparts, and women were more likely than men to report they went hungry.
Study author Julie Weeks, a demographer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Medical Xpress these inequalities have far-reaching ramifications since “sufficient and nutritious food is a key social determinant of health” and lack of access contributes to “inequalities in health status.”
THE TOLL OF FOOD INSECURITY
“Even transient experience of food insecurity during development can have lasting effects on learning, decision-making, brain function and increase adult body weight,” she said.
The latest Consumer Price Index showed food prices up 8.4% from March 2022 levels.
NIHCM Foundation data indicate 34 million people were food insecure in 2021, including 12.5% of children. That percentage increases 0.4 of a point for children less than 6 years of age.
“Living in poverty makes you sicker or causes you to become sick if you aren’t and it’s hard to get out of,” Heather Thomas told NPR (Oct. 2, 2022) as she picked up food at a District of Columbia area food bank.
“No matter how long you live in it, it causes trauma.”
The Food Institute Podcast
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Nearly one in ten Americans has a food allergy, but even more are affected as a family member deals with a food sensitivity. Allergenis CEO Jim Garner joins The Food Institute Podcast to discuss the reality of living with a food allergy, the current testing methods available on the market, and how the Allergenis assay provides a higher level of accuracy by utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning.