August 10, 2020,
Like clockwork, the word count in the dictionary increases and changes every year.
It should. The world certainly is rapidly changing and altering every year, at break neck pace.
According to wordcounter.io, “Every year, new words are being coined and new definitions added to already existing words. In January 2018, The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announced that it has added more than 1,100 words, senses, and sub-entries.”
Who can keep up? We sure can’t.
Part of the reason we can’t keep up is because there are segments of society that we are not familiar with that are growing in leaps and bounds and expanding our world in ways we hope they wouldn’t.
Like food insecurity.
As reported by cbsnews.com, “The number of American families struggling to put food on the table has seen a “substantial” increase since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve of St. Louis said in a new analysis of Census Bureau data. Food insecurity — defined as the inability to afford healthy food for all family members — affected 37 million U.S. households even before the start of the disease outbreak.”
Hadn’t heard of that one before.
What is food insecurity?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
What is the difference between hunger and food insecurity?
Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the household level.
Both of them refer to a situation that you hope you’re never in.
And yet, not only families but college students are in that very situation.
According to Hunger on Campus, 50 percent of community college students and 47 percent of four-year college students reported food insecurity. Twenty-five percent and 20 percent (respectively) had very low food security.
Of great concern, the group at Hunger on Campus reported that interventions such as campus meal plans, Pell Grants, student loans, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have not been completely effective in eliminating food insecurity, requiring administrators and policy makers to reimagine their responses.
Of the students who reported either hunger or housing instability, 81 percent said that the problems harmed their academic performance. The most common effects were missing class (53 percent), missing study sessions (54 percent), opting out of extracurricular activities (55 percent), and not buying textbooks (55 percent). A quarter reported dropping a class.
In the 1960’s it was common for some artistic personality, who often tends to be broke, say to you, “I need some bread man”.
They of course were referring to money.
Today when someone says they need some bread, they actually mean the one made from wheat.
The USDA addresses this important social ill from another angle describing food security.
In 2006, the USDA introduced new language to describe ranges of severity of food insecurity. USDA made these changes in response to recommendations by an expert panel convened at USDA’s request by the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies.
You’re on the good side of the table if this describes your food situation.
High food security means no reported indications of food-access problems or limitations.
Marginal food security describes one or two reported indications—typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in the house. Little or no indication of changes in diets or food intake.
Hopefully most of us have found ourselves in that situation for most of our lives.
Some in our circle have stood in food lines. One friend lost his job of over 20 years, and while he still had plenty of food to eat, participating in a food program once a month sure helped his budget. One of the interesting aspects that he found while he was standing in line was that a lot of the people in line were retired couples who has worked their whole lives.
Now for the other unfortunate side of the table.
According to Feeding America, nearly a quarter of Mississippi residents — more than 700,000 people — could struggle to get food this year.
Low food security indicates reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
Very low food security reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
Due to the increased hunger across the United States, groups like Feeding America are advocating for a 15% increase in maximum benefits under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the official name for food stamps.
Another new name. Please keep up.
Here are the glaring stats:
The defining characteristic of very low food security is that, at times during the year, the food intake of household members is reduced and their normal eating patterns are disrupted because the household lacks money and other resources for food. Very low food security can be characterized in terms of the conditions that households in this category typically report in the annual food security survey.
- 98 percent reported having worried that their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
- 97 percent reported that the food they bought just did not last, and they did not have money to get more.
- 96 percent reported that they could not afford to eat balanced meals.
- 97 percent reported that an adult had cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food.
- 90 percent reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.
- 94 percent of respondents reported that they had eaten less than they felt they should because there was not enough money for food.
- 69 percent of respondents reported that they had been hungry but did not eat because they could not afford enough food.
- 47 percent of respondents reported having lost weight because they did not have enough money for food.
- 32 percent reported that an adult did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.
- 25 percent reported that this had occurred in 3 or more months.
There are a group of people trying to make a dent in the problem.
The team at marketplace.org educates, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought high unemployment, and with more people struggling financially, food insecurity.
One way more and more community members are helping their neighbors is through a grassroots effort: Little Free Pantries. They resemble Little Free Libraries, only instead of books, they are stocked with boxed goods, canned goods and other food donated by community members to be used by passersby in need.”
What a great idea.
Ms. Jessica McClard started the movement in 2016 to help combat food insecurity in her home state of Arkansas. It’s one thing to feel bad about something, it is another thing to do something about it.
At her website littlefreepantry.org she explains that. “We are not an organization. We are not a nonprofit. Like you, we are neighbors with jobs, families…responsibilities; we don’t have a lot of time, and our budgets are nearly maxed. But we see our neighbors’ daily struggles and feel called to do something in a way that reflects our shared values—compassion, generosity, and trust.”
There are now more than 1,000 Little Free Pantries across the country.
They are set up and maintained by individuals in the neighborhood. Much needed, about a third of them have opened since the pandemic began.
Sometimes we have to confront and address one societal challenge at a time.
Little Free Pantries is doing just that.
Those are three new words we are happy to learn.
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