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Food Security in America In our class, we each had to do a presentation on a problem that was presented in David Shipler’s novel, The Working Poor. I chose to focus on food security versus food insecurity in America and how we as Americans, can help end food insecurity in our communities. The level of food insecurity in America declined between 2004 and 2005 from 11. 9% to 11% and then stayed about the same until 2008. In 2008, the stocks crashed and food security plummeted with it, with 14. 6% of American households as food insecure.Since 2008, the level of food security has been virtually unchanged and the government has taken no action to help shorten the gap. Therefore, it is our duty as citizens of America to help catalyze it through small community events and organizing. Food security, as defined by the USDA’s Economic Research Service is a household that has access to enough food to keep all members healthy and productive at all times. Whereas, a food insecure household is one that, is “uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. [1] The percentage of households that are food secure in America is 85. 3% leaving 14. 7% of households as insecure. [2] This 14. 7% can be further divided into two groups, those with low food security and those with very low food security. Those with low food security often have coping strategies for their problems: they eat less, have federal food assistance and go to food pantries. In contrast, those with very low food insecurity are insecure with hunger and one or more members of the household’s eating patterns are disturbed whether it is due to insufficient funds or lack of other resources like food pantries.Furthermore, these numbers are not just statistics—they translate to lives. There are 50. 2 million people in the United States that are food insecure and of those people 17. 2 million are children. [3] Continuing on, the number of people in that minority that have very low food security is 12. 2 million adults and 5. 4 million children. Nine million children or 12. 1% of American children are food insecure, and of these children, 988,000 or 1. 3% have very low food security. [4] Nonetheless, due to the adults and guardians in their lives, these children are often protected from feeling the brunt of being food insecure.Additionally, some groups have higher rates of food insecurity than the national average of 14. 7%. Households that are below the poverty line (yearly income of less than $21, 756 for a family of four) are much more likely to be food insecure, in fact 43% of households below the poverty line are food insecure. [5] Sadly, households with children have two times the rate of food security when compared to those without children and households with children that are raised by a married couple have the lowest rate of food insecurity. Contrastingly, households with children raised by single women are 36. % food insecure and the same households raised by single men are 27. 8% food insecure. Likewise, the percentage of Black households that are food insecure is 24. 9% and 26. 9% of Hispanic households are food insecure. One can make the hypothesis that minorities, whether it is racial or family type, have more difficulty with food security compared to White Nuclear families. In addition to certain groups having higher rates of food insecurity, there are also certain regions and states in America that are above the national average for food insecurity.These states are mostly in the south and are called food deserts. The top five states with the lowest food security are Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina. Luckily for us, Massachusetts is actually above the national average and for food security. Therefore, we do not truly feel the affects of food insecurity. In these times, it is hard to know where to go from all this negative information. Food stamp participation is down, only one third of eligible Americans obtain food stamps and charity organizations are reporting major increases in demand for food.Still, together we can—in fact, the USDA came out with a booklet called “Together We Can”, it is a guide to understanding food insecurity and a how-to on working to end hunger in your community. Some things the booklet says that we as students and members of our community can do are: hold a food drive; hold a 5-mile walkathon to raise money, and grow a community garden/join an existing one. We can also support nutrition education by helping with the food stamp program or WIC nutrition education classes. We can also contact local schools and help with utrition-related activities. Places in the UMass community that we can help out at are the Amherst Survival Center, Food Not Bombs, and Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The Amherst Survival Center is always looking for volunteers and is only minutes away from campus. Food Not Bombs serves vegan and vegetarian food to people in need as a statement in protesting war. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is the largest domestic relief organization in the nation. However, the food bank has to help feed the 12. % of Western Mass that is food insecure, because 36% of them do not meet federal requirements for food insecurity. [6] As a result, they need all the help they can get/ In conclusion, it is important for us as students to be knowledgeable on public issues like food insecurity. More importantly, it is critical that we do more than just be informed. We should be active members of the community and help close all these gaps of disparity so that everyone can ultimately start on an equal playing field and have the chance to go to college and succeed, just like us.

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