These stories are all about who’s making money, who’s not, and what food companies think consumers will want to eat next. Reading all of these stories, you can't help but think about the real reason for food—sustenance. People need it to live. But amidst all these headlines, amidst our food affluence, we still see food insecurity all around us.
In 2017 an estimated 40 million Americans, 12 million of them children, were deemed food insecure. The USDA defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active healthy life. It happens in every community in every state. In Orange County, North Carolina, where Pulse is based, there are 4,300 families who are food insecure. In affluent Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home of the prestigious University of North Carolina, an estimated 1,000 students visited the UNC campus food bank in 2017.
The global statistics are even more daunting. According to a UN report from August 2019, "Hunger is surging [this year] amid deadly conflicts and poor weather conditions in many countries." Not to mention that climate change will have a significant impact on the global food supply.
Here’s the rub: The world actually does produce enough food to feed everyone right now but extreme economic inequality likely prevents effective distribution of that food.
How can you even begin to help solve a problem so big? The answer is to start locally, in each of our homes, workplaces and communities.
Here are three simple ways to get started.
Advocate: Become a voice for your community at home and at work to connect with food banks, the private sector, charities and government. You can find your local food bank here.
Contribute: Pack a bag of shelf-stable groceries—pasta, canned vegetables, rice, beans—and take it to your local food bank or participate in your community food drives. Cash donations are also welcome and enable Food Banks to buy the things their constituents need.
Volunteer: There’s nothing more satisfying than helping in your own community. Families that want to help are welcome at every food bank in the country.
Looking for some inspiration?
The Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation has donated $100,000 to help fund two mobile grocery markets in North Carolina’s Charlotte and Greensboro communities. “This work allow us to bring more healthy food to people in underserved communities in North Carolina, but it will provide important information on whether mobile markets work and in what settings.”
By all means, the food industry should keep the pedal to the metal in continuing to develop better-for-you options in efficient and sustainable ways. But in the meantime, let’s not forget about the people among us who don’t have enough of any kind of food to eat.