By: Maude Collins, Franklin and Marshall College
Food insecurity is a national security issue. It threatens the livelihood of people across the world. While we attend college, enjoy family time, and build our careers, many others are struggling to simply survive. In fact, many families have exhausted every means of survival and are left dead in areas such as South Sudan. Food insecurity has been a chronic social problem around the world. In the U.S. alone, 42.2 million Americans live in food-insecure households. While this issue has been on the backburner in regards to the more global epidemics, it should hold more significance as the income gap is widening. Since the tech boom in 1995, the median income has remained the same, as wages are not increasing for the majority of Americans, but merely the top ten percent. Because of this widening gap, many more people will become food-insecure. It is the duty of the American people to stop this increasing tragedy and help their neighbors who spend every waking minute searching for a bite to eat.
The decision to either pay for diapers or a light bill is one that many Americans face. This rising problem gravely affects society in many ways. The more food insecure people there are the more food pantries and shelters there need to be. This proportional growth would affect the economy because the funding for these agencies comes from the taxpayer’s money. Furthermore, there are moral and ethical issues that arise from food insecurity as well. This issue is not only occurring in the marginalized parts of communities, but directly on college campuses as well. A news report surveyed more than 3,000 students at a mix of 34 colleges. It reported that 48% of students had experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days. This falters academic success for these students, as studies have shown that hungry people are less productive and cannot learn well. Food insecurity has shown to cause physical impairment, which can lead to reduced learning in children and adults, as well as a lack of productivity. Such repercussions of food insecurity were reported to be an important threat to harmonious life in a community; if this exists on a large enough scale, it could intensify conflicts in society.
Now attending college in Lancaster, PA I see the same issue prominent here. People are starving on the streets and cold during the winter. Every 1 in 7 people go hungry in just Pennsylvania alone. The realization that a few citizens are starving among a small group of people should hold more significance to Americans than it does now. This social issue takes a strong toll on our future generations. Food insecurity is linked with delayed development, and learning difficulties in the first two years of life. Starving children have a poorer physical quality of life, which often times prevents them from school and social interaction with peers. Instead of one generation affected by disaster, losing out on education increases the risk that the impact could continue for decades, or longer. As the population increases this issue needs to be combatted.
One major concern is increasing food production on dwindling farms worldwide. With the changing climate many farms are facing difficult times outputting large amounts of food. However, science and can technology can aid in this issue. For example, Australia is using data on climate and meteorological conditions to help farmers be better prepared for future changes. Besides farming, more sustainable eating can also help fight food insecurity as well as homelessness. Eating more healthily and reducing waste can lessen this issue. Some 1.3 billion tons are lost to waste each year. However, if large institutions such as colleges can start donating leftover food to various shelters, not only would the amount of waste decline, but food insecurity as well.