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Food For Thought: Faces of Hunger

Faces of Hunger
When you think of the face of hunger, do you picture your next-door neighbor?

Hunger has no face. It could be the college student who skips a meal once a day to save on money, or the single dad working overtime trying to make means to keep up with the bills. Maybe it’s the high schooler going home unsure of where their next meal comes from, or the first grader who has limited food options on the weekends. 

Hunger is unforgiving and does not discriminate. According to a study conducted in 2019 by Feeding America, 12,670 or 13% of children in Seminole County are food insecure.

Food insecurity is the social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. There are four levels of food security. 

  • High Food Security: Households had no problems, or anxiety about, consistently accessing adequate food
  • Marginal Food Security: Households had problems or anxiety at times about accessing adequate food, but the quality, variety, and quantity of their food were not substantially reduced
  • Low Food Security: Households reduced the quality, variety, and desirability of their diets, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted
  • Very Low Food Security: At times during the year, eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money or other resources for food

According to the USDA, Economic Research Service, in 2020, 98% of very low food security American households were worried food would run out. 

Food For Thought
Seminole County’s food insecurity rate is currently on par with the national average, right around 10%. That means one in ten people in Seminole County is walking around daily without adequate or sufficient intake of food. 

The impacts of food insecurity go above and beyond hunger. There are serious health complications that result from insufficient food intake. According to a study conducted by the USDA Economic Research Service on child health and development outcomes associated with food insecurity and food insufficiency found characteristics such as:

  • Iron deficiency anemia in young children
  • Lower physical function in children ages 3-8 
  • Poorer psychosocial function and psychosocial development in school age children
  • Higher rates of depressive disorder and suicidal symptoms in adolescents
  • More anxiety and depression in school-age children
  • Higher numbers of chronic health conditions in children
  • Lower arithmetic scores and higher likelihood of repeating a grade for children ages 6-11

Everyday people you see or know could be affected by food insecurity. In reality, food insecurity can look like an everyday parent working a full-time job without having the means to buy sustainable and nutritious meals after paying for the necessities. Such as bills, car payments, childcare and clothes.

Although hunger is a very real problem for many, it is the most solvable issue that we can continue to address. Here are three easy things you can do today, to help those who are experiencing food insecurity:

  1. Volunteer: Share your time at The Pantry or sign up for a volunteer shift at our next Food Distribution!
  2. Write a Lawmaker: Help keep important programs in place and encourage lawmakers to pass policies that prioritize access to healthy foods by writing letters or calling our local lawmakers.
  3. Donate: You can donate your non-perishable and perishable foods at The Sharing Center’s pantry. We have the largest free food pantry in Seminole County.