The FAMCare Blog

What is Food Insecurity?

Posted by Danielle Ritacco on Jan 28, 2016 4:14:12 PM

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Over the holidays I volunteered at my daughters’ school.  While there I had the pleasure of speaking to one of the teachers.  During our conversation we talked about the many things happening in our local schools and here in the county. Out of the various topics we discussed, one hit me very hard.  This teacher told me of the growing number of children who are "food insecure."  A term I had not heard before.  I was aware that our school offered discounted, sometimes free lunches to families who needed help, but was alarmed at the number of children in need in a community that is considered to be thriving.

That afternoon I left the school and raided my pantry.  I took every can of soup, boxes of pasta and non-perishable goods I could find and quickly brought them back to the school before the day let out.  These children were going home for the weekend, and their next meal might not possibly be until Monday morning.  My first thought was “I have to do something."

During the holidays many of us tend to reflect on our lives and what direction we are going and what impact we have on those around us. While I can’t feed every child that is hungry, I can make an impact on those in my community. 

Fortunately, I work at a software company whose main mission is to provide excellent systems of care for those special individuals who can impact the lives of children and families. One of those agencies is Harvest Foods & Outreach Center. 

Harvest Foods uses FAMCare case management software to manage their foodbank and outreach activities, including a Cost Share Grocery Program, Crisis Relief Programs and a Work Preparedness Program.  I am happy to say I come to GVT proud every day knowing we work with people that are out there – helping the vulnerable and less fortunate from going hungry.  It’s absolutely humbling.

Some Facts…

According to the USDA, “more than one in seven American households (49 million individuals including 12 million children) struggles to have enough to eat.”  As these numbers increase, so does the risk of illness and infection. For hundreds of thousands of children, the only meals they are receiving are the free meals that are provided by schools.  Food insecurity not only effects our children, but our elderly as well.

In 2014, 3.0 million (9%) households with seniors age 65 and older experienced food insecurity. 1.2 million (9%) households composed of seniors living alone experienced food insecurity. Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M., Gregory, C., & Singh, A. (2015). Household Food Security in the United States in 2014, Table 2. USDA ERS.

The legislation funding the government for the next fiscal year includes several items that will facilitate food and financial donations to charities working to end hunger. Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act on December 18 and President Obama signed them the same day.

One of the provisions gives small farms, restaurants, retailers, and producers the same tax credits for food donations that larger businesses get, which will make it easier for them to donate. It also makes permanent the rule that allows Americans 70 1/2 or older to donate IRA funds tax free to charitable organizations (helpful info on that here).

Several federal nutrition programs will also see increases, including ones that fund food storage and distribution (Emergency Food Assistance Program), provide meals to children from low-income families during the summer months when most public schools are closed (Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer), and supplement the diets of low-income elderly people with nutritious USDA foods (Commodity Supplemental Food Program).

Topics: Social Services Industry News, Child Welfare, Government, Elderly/Aging Long Term Care, FAMCare Tips and Tools

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