Food insecurity, which describes a household’s inability to provide nutritious food to all of its members, affects millions of U.S. citizens a year. In order to become food secure, an individual or household must have financial access to foods that are necessary for leading a healthy lifestyle. Unexpected circumstances such as being laid off from work or dealing with a car accident can cause someone to become food insecure.
This is why The Mount of Olives takes advantage of the benefits of urban farming to help these families. Learn more about how non-profit organizations like the Mount of Olives are addressing food insecurity in the U.S. and abroad now.
What is Food Insecurity?
Causes and Solutions of Food Insecurity in the United States
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), people dealing with food insecurity lack access to nutritious foods required for a healthy lifestyle. Many organizations use food insecurity to measure the risk of hunger in families across the country.
But while these two terms are closely related, it is important to learn how to distinguish between them. Remember that hunger refers to the physical discomfort or weakness that is caused by a lack of food while food insecurity is associated with a shortage of financial resources necessary to purchase healthy food.
Causes of Food Insecurity
Something as sudden as a work-related injury can plunge a family into food insecurity. Unfortunately, food insecurity can turn into a vicious cycle of chronic disease, lower employability, and reduced household income. As families struggle with stress and poor nutrition, their resources for dealing with these issues while also saving enough money for essential foods starts to become impossible.
Different Ranges of Food Insecurity
Households can either be described as food secure or food insecure. In general, there are four levels of food security that can be used to determine how food secure or insecure a household is.
People facing very low food security report multiple instances of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. On the other end of the spectrum is a household with high food security. These households have no reports of issues with accessing healthy food. People with low food security to marginal food security face varying levels of reduced food quality or quantity.
Populations Affected by Food Insecurity
Food insecurity affects people from numerous communities across the United States, including:
- Senior citizens
- Members of rural communities
- Children in low-income neighborhoods
- African American and Latino communities, which are hit harder than white households
Effects of Food Insecurity
Food insecurity can have serious consequences, such as health complications or chronic illness. Children who face food insecurity may have difficulty learning and growing in such an unstable environment. Adults who are dealing with food insecurity often have to make tough decisions between paying for healthy food or critical health care appointments.
How We Can End Food Insecurity Together
Ending food insecurity is a difficult challenge to tackle because of its underlying causes, such as poverty or unemployment. Because these factors are so deeply connected to each other, it can be difficult for families to successfully break from the overwhelming cycle of dealing with food insecurity. However, there are steps people and governments can take today to prevent and reduce food insecurity for different people, such as:
- Making school meals free for students
- Providing food-center programming for communities hit hard by food insecurity
- Building sustainable urban gardens for vulnerable populations
Benefits of Urban Farming
Urban Farming Can Help Empower Others to Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
Building and cultivating farms in urban communities can give low-income families or households struggling with chronic illness access to the healthy fruits and vegetables they need. Not only does growing one’s own food help them save money, but it also gives them greater access to a wider variety of produce. Residents can grow everything from tomatoes to collars to different types of mustards in their gardens.
Some other benefits of urban gardening include its ability to:
- Reduce carbon emissions
- Create new job and volunteer opportunities
- Lower prices for healthy and nutritious foods
- Offer more green space for city residents
- Decrease the prevalence of harmful conditions such as obesity and diabetes in different populations
How Mount of Olives Can Help Your Community
The Benefits of Urban Farming for Your Neighborhood are Plentifold
The Mount of Olives is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing innovative solutions for people living in food deserts both locally and abroad. Through the combination of critical thinking, strategic planning, and proper education, The Mount of Olives seeks to empower these communities facing food insecurities.
One of the ways in which The Mount of Olives does this is through urban farming. By teaching underserved communities the importance of urban farming and giving them adequate resources to sustaining their farms, the organization helps individuals lead healthier lifestyles.
Urban farming benefits food insecure communities in a number of ways. Not only does urban farming bring healthy and nutritious foods to food deserts, but it also empowers its residents with new entrepreneurial skills. That’s why The Mount of Olives is dedicated to revitalizing the economic sectors in underserved communities through urban farming. To learn more about how you can help underserved communities, contact one of our team members today.