What is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity is the lack of assured access to sufficient food for a healthy and active life. According to the USDA, food insecurity is, “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food for a healthy, active life.”
Food insecurity doesn’t necessarily mean that a family is starving or never has food. What it means is that healthy food is not consistent – they aren’t “secure” in always having access to healthy food options.
Food insecure households may:
- run out of food without having money to buy more
- cut back the size of meals due to lack of money
- have to skip meals altogether
What does food insecurity look like in Barron County?
- 1 out of 8 (12%) of Barron County residents are food insecure. That is about 5,500 people.
- 1 out of 4 (23.4%) of Barron County residents receive FoodShare (formerly known as Food Stamps). That is about 9,000 people.
- The rate of FoodShare participation in Barron County in 2010 was 20%, compared to the statewide rate of 17%.
Barron County Children & Food Insecurity
- 1 out of 5 children in Barron County are food insecure, that is 2,180 children
- Of the 2,180 food insecure children, 78% are eligible for funded government programs (FoodShare, Free School Lunches, etc.)
- This means almost 500 children in Barron County are food insecure, but unable to receive assistance from any government program
- 500 children would fill 10 school buses
Effects of Food Insecurity on Children
Food insecurity can have a lot of negative effects on children, both physically and psychologically. Here are a few:
- Overall poor health status
- More susceptible to illnesses and infections
- More likely to have iron deficiency
- Greater risk for deficits in cognitive development and academic achievement
- Greater risk of improper physical development due to malnutrition
- Negative psychological and behavioral problems
In one study, hungry children were SEVEN times more likely than children who did not experience hunger to receive test scores indicative of clinical levels of psychosocial problems
There are several ways that you can help end food insecurity in Barron County. Here are a few ideas:
- Donate money/food to a local food pantry
- Volunteer at a food pantry
- Volunteer at a meal service or soup kitchen
- Help spread the truth about food insecurity in Barron County by sharing this website
- Let people know about the Barron County Food Resource Guide
- Help establish and sustain a community garden
There are a lot of excellent resources on the internet to learn more about food insecurity. If you want to learn more about the reality of food insecurity and its effects start with some of the links below.
Children’s Defense Fund
USDA Economic Research Report
Wisconsin Food Security Project
Map the Meal Gap
Poverty Matters: The Cost of Child Poverty in America (Washington D.C.: Children’s Defense Fund, 1997).
United States Department of Agriculture (2014) via Life Sciences Research Office (1990).
Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, Overall Food Insecurity Rate (2012).
Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, Child Food Insecurity Rate (2012).
WI Food Security Project, www.foodsecurity.wisc.edu (2012).