We all know what it is like to feel hungry after skipping a meal. Hunger is a feeling that can be different for everyone, but food insecurity measures the conditions that can lead to hunger. Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active and healthy life.
One "bad month" can be enough to plunge a household into food insecurity. Layoffs at work, unexpected car maintenance or an accident on the job can suddenly force a family to choose between buying food and paying bills. Working families across America face countless situations that can result in food insecurity and hunger.
Food insecurity can quickly spiral out of control, increasing the sense of despair and putting additional stress on the stability of the household. Not being able to afford or access enough nutritious food often results in poor nutrition. And, poor nutrition can quickly lead to increased health risks such as chronic disease.
Sadly, approximately 60% of people who experience food insecurity also suffer from obesity and/or diabetes. Chronic illness can lead to increased medical bills, lost hours at work for doctor appointments, and loss of income. In turn, lower income often forces people to make difficult choices between paying for food or paying for medicine, utilities, rent, or other necessities.
Food insecurity has the potential to be harmful to individuals of any age, but it can be particularly devastating to children. Kids who do not get enough to eat — especially during their first three years — begin life at a serious disadvantage. When they are hungry, children are more likely to be hospitalized and face higher risks of health conditions such as anemia and asthma.
Growing up with the burden of food insecurity also affects the physical and emotional development of children. Kids struggling to get enough to eat are more likely to have problems in school and other social situations. The stark fact is hungry children are worried about when and where they will get their next meal. The cards are stacked against them with respect to their ability to focus and learn in school, much less thrive. NO CHILD should ever be hungry!