Food security means having safe and reliable access to an appropriate amount of nutritious food at an affordable price. In order to have the ability to maintain a healthy diet, individuals and families must feel secure in their ability to buy healthy foods.
Entire communities experience food insecurity at a macro level, sometimes referred to as food apartheid. Food apartheid results from political and economic decisions rooted in structural racism, which have inequitably led to long-term disinvestment in primarily low-income communities and communities of color. These communities lack economic power to maintain grocery stores and are instead bombarded with junk and fast food.
Disparities and Statistics
Race and Ethnicity: Rates of food insecurity are disproportionately higher in minority households. The national average of households with food insecurity is 10.9%. Black households experience food insecurity at a rate of 21.8% and Hispanic households experience food insecurity at a rate of 19.5%. White households experienced food insecurity at a rate of 7.8%.³⁶
Socioeconomic Status: Schools with limited budgets often can’t supplement the federal school lunch program’s average reimbursement rate. This makes it nearly impossible to provide fresh, healthy or local foods. Thus, the only options for lower-income schools become a ‘reheat and eat program’ where schools microwave or heat frozen, processed foods.³⁷
Health: Over 30 million Americans live in places that lack access to healthy foods. This includes over 8% of rural families who live 10 miles or more from a grocery store--a concern highest among Native American populations in the West. In urban areas, the disparity continues for low-income families, with low-income families of color much less likely to have access to healthy food.³⁷
Other option: Research shows that children from food insecure homes have poorer overall health status: they are sick more often, much more likely to have ear infections, have higher rates of iron deficiency anemia, and are hospitalized more frequently. In short, going hungry In short, going hungry makes kids sick.³⁶