Understand the Issues

Before we can win the fight against hunger on Long Island – and in this country – we must understand the issues that surround it. At Long Island Cares – The Harry Chapin Food Bank, we believe that we all must understand the issues surrounding:

  • Poverty and hunger
  • Food insecurity
  • Hunger and gender

For more information about hunger on Long Island, see facts about hunger or better yet, get to know the faces of hunger, then find out how you can make a difference.

Poverty and Hunger
In the United States, hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food. There is more than enough food to feed everyone – and more than enough ways for us to deliver it. The problem is not everyone has the money to buy it.

Around our country – and around the world – wherever poverty exists, hunger is sure to exist as well. Poverty in the United States has been measured for decades, but the government only began measuring hunger, and what is called food insecurity, in 1995. The correlation between food insecurity and poverty became immediately clear.

There are several government programs in place to help fight hunger, including SNAP (formerly The Food Stamp Program), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the National School Lunch Program. And nonprofit hunger assistance organizations such as Long Island Cares are always looking to do more.

But breaking the cycle of poverty is proving much more difficult. In fact, the majority of those who are food insecure are the working poor: people who must often choose between paying the rent or utilities and feeding their families.

That’s why Long Island Cares also offers programming that can help break down the barriers that often keep these people in poverty: from education and training to services for returning veterans. It is the first step in the fight against hunger on Long Island.

Food Security/Food Insecurity
At a minimum, food security includes:

  • The ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
  • An assured ability to acquire acceptable foods without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging or other coping strategies.

On the other hand, individuals who are experiencing what is known as “food insecurity” have limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods and involuntarily cut back on meals or food portions because they do not know where their next meal is coming from.

According to the national study Hunger in America 2010, 74 percent of the Long Island households served by emergency food programs such as those of Long Island Cares are food insecure according to the U.S. government’s official food security scale. To find out more about food insecurity on Long Island, read the full report.

Hunger and Gender

In the United States, more women and children go hungry than any other demographic group. While 14.7 percent of households nationwide are experiencing some form of food insecurity, 36.6 percent of households with children headed by a single woman – versus 27.8 percent of households with children headed by a single man – are considered food insecure.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that hunger in America has a great deal to do with gender:

  • More than 1 in 3 single mothers in struggle to feed their children.
  • More than 1 in 7 of them report that at least one member of their family doesn’t get enough to eat on a regular basis.

Government programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and local food pantries are critically important to these families.

At Long Island Cares, we work to do more: helping to break down the barriers of poverty that often lead to food insecurity. We offer a range of children’s nutrition programs as well as career training programs for single mothers.

For more facts about hunger and children on Long Island, read this report. If you are experiencing hunger or are food insecure, get to know more about Long Island Cares’ programs. Want to help? Find out how you can make a difference in the lives of your neighbors.

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