Food insecurity is nothing new nor is it something of the past. Rather, the rates of food security continue to rise. . Hunger in the United States is very real with 1 in 6 people struggling with food insecurity. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are for the “poor or homeless” individuals who live within certain areas of the country. In reality, the situation is much different. Rather, hunger resides with hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot always make ends meet. Many of these individuals are not homeless but spend their hard earned money to pay housing, electric and heating bills before food.
Food Insecure statistics: Per the Feeding America, America’s largest network of food banks, website (feedingamerica.org)
- In 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households: 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children.
- Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America.
- 62 percent of client households with children under the age of 18 reported participating in the National School Lunch Program, but only 14 percent reported having a child participate in a summer feeding program that provides free food when school is out.
- 54 percent of client households with children under the age of 3 participated in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- 32 percent of pantries, 42 percent of kitchens, and 18 percent of shelters in the Feeding America network reported “many more children in the summer” being served by their programs.
Why does this matter? Per the Feeding America America’s largest network of food banks,website (feedingamerica.org)
Food insecurity in adults is associated with a variety of negative physical health outcomes.
Food insecure adults between the ages of 18 and 65 and seniors over age 65 may receive fewer nutrients, which may hinder their ability to live a full and active life.
Food insecurity is associated with lower scores on physical and mental health exams.
Food insecure adults have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Food insecurity is associated with a range of chronic illnesses such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and various cardiovascular risk factors.
Studies have found that food insecurity has been associated with health problems for children that may hinder their ability to function normally and participate fully in school and other activities.
- Children who are food insecure are more likely to require hospitalization.
- Children who are food insecure may be at higher risk for chronic health conditions, such as anemia, and asthma.
- Children who are food insecure may have more frequent instances of oral health problems.
- Food insecurity among young children is associated with poorer physical quality of life, which may prevent them from fully engaging in daily activities such as school and social interaction with peers.
With the continued focus on food insecurity much has already been done to help those in need. For instance, much of the work food banks do now revolves around nutrition as having proper food available for individuals provides essential vitamins, nutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat that help the body stay healthy. Nutrition education, healthy recipes, and basic cooking skills with the increased donations of fresh fruits and vegetables is an additional way food pantries are trying to help people understand the importance of fueling the body with the proper foods.
However, one of the foods that is the least common to be donated but provides at least 9 essential nutrients essential for strong bones is dairy products. Dairy is perishable and therefore has a limited time frame where it is consumable. Dairy also needs to be stored in a refrigerator of which limited space in food pantries and food banks makes it difficult for this product to be donated in large quantities.
In fact, individuals who use the food pantries on a pretty regular basis only receive 1 gallon of milk per year even though milk is the most requested item. In light of this, the nation’s milk processors and dairy farmers have come together with Feeding America,America’s largest network of food banks, to launch the Great American Milk Drive which is the first-ever nationwide program that encourages consumers to donate milk to hungry families.
Even if you don’t like or believe in the power of dairy this campaign is much bigger than what our thoughts, beliefs, and needs are. It is a campaign to not only increase awareness but to also help food pantries receive a product that is highly perishable yet highly requested and needed in food insecure homes.
What Milk Offers: Per MilkLife website (milk life.com)
- Milk is naturally-nutrient-rich. It has 9 essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving and three of the top nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D and potassium.
- Milk makes any meal more nutritious – for your family and families who are food insecure.
- Starting the morning with a nutritious breakfast with milk is a great way to get ready to tackle the day. Milk powers potential—if you have access to it. Unfortunately, many families who rely on food banks do not have that access because there’s a shortage of milk.The Great
American Milk Drive: Per MilkLife website (milk life.com)
- Join the Great American Milk Drive to help get fresh, nutritious milk to hungry families.
- Feeding America participants receives the equivalent of less than 1 gallon per person a year. That’s far short of the recommended three servings of milk a day.
- The Great American Milk Drive is making it easy for you to help – with a simple text or click of your mouse, you can help provide nutrient-rich milk to the families in your community who are served through the Feeding America network.
Call-to-Action: Per MilkLife website (milk life.com)
- Milk is needed in America’s feeding programs because it’s seldom donated – but you can easily help.
- Join Feeding America in the Great American Milk Drive, the first program to deliver highly desired gallons of milk to hungry families who need it most.
- Log onto www.milklife.com/give to learn about the need for more nutritious foods in America’s food banks and how your small donation can make a big impact.
It is time for us to give back to our committee. Whether you volunteer at your local school, shelter, food bank, or donate clothes, fruits/vegetables, dairy products, or money, remember that you are helping to save and better lives!
Backpack Program where food goes home with children after school to supply them food for the weekend. To learn more please visit: Feeding America – BackPack Program
National Dairy Council