By Xochitl Wilson
Bachelors in Dietetics, 15 years plus in Nutrition Education, Health Coach and former GCU student
As I was prepping my meals for the week, the thought that has crossed my mind since 2006, how is it possible that the United States suffers from food insecurity? Specifically, Arizonans. Guilt and helplessness overwhelmed me because I’m able to open my refrigerator and have the option to choose between a variety of milk types to make pancakes. Helpless because I’m only one person that wishes she had a magic wand to prevent disadvantaged children, adults, and seniors from finding themselves without food. We can go around and round about some of the choice’s adults make and why they may see themselves in undesirable situations. However, the question should be, what can I do to mitigate food insecurity within our communities?
Food insecurity affects one out of six Arizonan’s (Association of Arizona Food Banks). That is one million people struggling with food insecurity in 2015. When I see and hear these numbers, it’s difficult to comprehend that this occurs in a first world country. Feeding America undertook the Map the Meal Gap project to capture data throughout the United States at the community level. This project has networked with local food banks in communities that can then help the project understand the needs and population of each community.
How do you know which community has a need? The number of people falling below the federal poverty threshold has been the indicator most typically used for identifying the need for food at the local level because it is one of the few indicators available at the county level (Feeding America- Food Insecurity and Map the Meal Gap). This paints a clear picture that helps educate children and adults alike improve options, which in turn can prevent food insecurity along with the many chronic diseases like diabetes that has been rising within the working poor population.
How can you help?
Get involved and volunteer. Most food banks in Arizona or within your community love having a waiting list of volunteers.
You can join coalitions/organizations/foundations that are working towards improving access to healthier food. Volunteer and help your local farmer and create opportunities that will help the surrounding community. Step outside of your zip code to grasp the reality that some zip codes do not have the same opportunity as having a Sprouts or Whole Foods nearby.
So, my goal is to motivate you to get involved so that there are more of us with magic wands eradicating an unnecessary disparity in Arizona. For your perusal, check out a local organization bringing people together from different fields collaborating to help feed families locally grown produce.
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- Arizona Food Banks. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.azfoodbanks.org/index.php/hunger/
- Hunger in America 2014 – Feeding America. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://help.feedingamerica.org/HungerInAmerica/hunger-in-america-2014-full-report.pdf
- How Hungry is America? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.frac.org/wp-content/uploads/food-hardship-july-2018.pdf