People are Hungry, Share your Food
Young volunteers donating items to the Reverse Food Truck (Kroger, 2016)
Approximately 1/3 of the food produced worldwide is wasted at some point from field to table. In developing countries, the food waste primarily happens earlier in the process because of poor storage facilities. In developed countries, most of the waste occurs on the consumer’s end. People in the United States throw away food every day. We have refrigerators and pantries packed with food and then go out to dinner because it’s easier.
We have a problem with food waste and yet 27.4% of children in Texas alone deal with food insecurity. Not only that, but 22.4% of Texas children are obese. Part of this percentage is the result of children living in food deserts without access to fresh or healthy food and, therefore, they rely on things with empty calories and no nutrients. They do not always have enough money for food, so when they do get a meal, they often get something cheap, like fast food.
There is one place a malnourished, underfed child can get a semi-healthy, free meal at least once a day. Schools provide free lunches every day to any child who qualifies for one. Many programs also offer breakfast and an after-school snack. 50.3% of Texas children take advantage of this program but, when they are out for summer break, they go back to uncertainty.
However, the USDA has come up with a program to help during these three months without school provided meals. The federal food assistance program serves 200 million free meals to children under 18 throughout the summer. This program is fairly new and not as popular as it should be. Only about 1/6 of children who get free meals during the school year receive similar meals during the summer. This is a great program, and once it becomes the standard can solve quite a few hunger problems. Hunger is a crisis in Africa, Asia and all over the world, but it is also right down the street.
The issues of hunger and food insecurity affect a lot of people; these issues have several facets, and there is not one perfect solution. A good first step is to be aware of it. We should challenge ourselves to get out of our wasteful habits and do better.
If your household is food-scarce this summer, please don't hesitate to text FOOD to 877877. You will be prompted to enter your zip code and will receive a response that includes the nearest locations (schools, churches, parks, etc.) where meals are available throughout the day.
Anna Centala is the 2017 NorthPark Presbyterian Church summer intern. She is a rising junior at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, currently majoring in Religious Studies and Sociology.