Food pantries, give-aways help food insecure
Published 11:54 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Among the news items in today’s paper is an announcement of the monthly food distribution at First Baptist Church Thursday. Sunday, there was a notice of food distribution at the VFW. These are just two of many churches and organizations that do food distributions each month in the Elizabethton community.
Food insecurity is a constant factor in the lives of low-income families, who simply do not have income to go around for a full month of groceries. And, with summer coming and school out, there will be more pressures on the already tight budgets of low-income families, particularly when the safety net of free school meals is removed.
Charitable food services, including food give-aways, food pantries and banks support individual and households’ food access, potentially maintaining food security and diet quality for families whose food budgets have been stretched to the limits by the rising cost of groceries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of food banks and pantries increased all across the state and county. However, the increased prices of food have made the demand as great now as it was during the pandemic. For many, food insecurity is economic. At its root, hunger is an income issue and in the area served by Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, one in six people face hunger and one in five children face hunger.
And, for the elderly on Social Security, their monthly income has taken a hit from the rising food prices.
Being food insecure does not just mean that you can’t afford to eat, although for some that is a real concern. It also means relying on low-cost foods, which typically are less nutritional and do not meet the standards for a well-balanced meal.
This past year the Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 9,929,684 meals to people struggling with hunger, but found it wasn’t enough. Local food pantries and non-profit organizations also help to supplement needs, but there is more to be done.
Extensive research reveals food insecurity is a complex problem. Many people do not have the resources to meet their basic needs, challenges which increase a family’s risk of food insecurity. Though food insecurity is closely related to poverty, not all people living below the poverty line experience food insecurity and people living above the poverty line can experience food insecurity.
Food insecurity does not exist in isolation, as low-income families are affected by multiple, overlapping issues like lack of affordable housing, social isolation, economic/social disadvantage resulting from chronic or acute health problems, high medical costs, and low wages.
There is no single face of food insecurity, as it impacts every community in the United States. In Carter County, the food insecurity rate is put at 18 percent by the USDA.
We are thankful for the many organizations and churches within our community who do food give-aways and have free food pantries. We are reminded that every community in the country is home to families who face hunger. Feeding the needy is part of serving one another and as we serve others we are serving Christ.