This week, I visited the food pantry in the city where I now work. It’s a wonderful pantry, providing not only groceries but also clothing and tutoring for kids, all with an approach that dignifies their clients.
Our area is relatively affluent, giving the impression that there is not much need. But my experience suggests that the presence of of wealth is not at all correlated to an absence of need.
Food insecurity is a prime example of this. Often it lays hidden in communities, but the numbers suggest it is never far away.
Here are 5 fast facts about this issue in the U.S.
- Food insecure refers to those who do not know where their next meal is coming from. It is unrelated to whether that person is housed permanently or not. Only 10% of Feeding America network clients, for instance, are homeless.
- 1 out of 6 people in the U.S. are food insecure, totally 50 million Americans without dependable, consistent access to enough food.
- Food banks and food pantries are different. Food banks gather large volumes of food for a region, like a county. Food pantries distribute that food to residents.
- 17 million children in the U.S. live in food insecurity.
- Food pantries purchase their food from the food banks by weight at a subsidized rate. For this reason, a $20 donation to a food pantry goes far further to feed people than purchasing $20 worth of groceries yourself. Unless you are an extreme couponer.