If you have never had to worry about having a packed lunch for school, money for snacks, or nourishing food in your fridge, it is easy to assume everyone you know has enough nutritious food to eat. But food insecurity is a reality for many individuals and households in North America.
Food insecurity is being “unable to consistently access or afford adequate food,” according to Merriam Webster. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that food insecurity affected 11.1 percent of U.S. households at some point during 2018.
People experience food insecurity for a myriad of reasons. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) notes, “Food insecurity may be long term or temporary. It may be influenced by a number of factors including income, employment, race/ethnicity, and disability.”
COVID-19 has negatively impacted people’s ability to source nutritious food when you consider stay-at-home orders and an enormous amount of job losses. Similarly, people may be food insecure if they are dealing with high medical costs, lack of affordable housing, low wages, or the inability to travel.
Chef Jagger Gordon is an executive chef, caterer, and founder of the Feed It Forward community food program in Toronto, Canada, that helps eliminate waste by taking advantage of good food that would otherwise be destined for landfills. EmpowHERto asked Chef Jagger Gordon about some of the misconceptions surrounding food insecurity. He notes, “The two main misconceptions are that there is a global food shortage and that working families have the means to access nutritious food. In Canada alone, more than 53 percent of all food ends up in landfills while 1 in 5 families currently live with food insecurity…there’s never been a more urgent time to help our local communities.”
Those of you who are fortunate enough to have food security may want help during this crisis. As schools and community centers remain closed and food programs are halted, make a food donation at your local food bank or a monetary donation at a network of organizations like Feeding America or Food Banks Canada.
Interested in fighting food insecurity even when COVID-19 is behind us? Wonderful! The government has a direct impact on sustainability, so educate yourself on food policies and programs, and contact your elected officials if you are strongly in support of or against an initiative. The EmpowHERto team also researched tons of inspiring leaders and organizations making a difference in this space. Here are some of them.
If you know someone in Toronto who is struggling, Chef Jagger Gordon says, “Educate them about the Feed It Forward’s Pay What You Can Grocery Store, Café, and Bakery that is giving dignity back to shoppers by eliminating the burden of having to choose between paying for shelter and feeding themselves and their children.” Volunteers can also donate non-perishables and register on Feed It Forward’s website to volunteer for one of the numerous positions.
Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia, Washington partners with local producers and farms, and provides accessible goods and services to its members, including cooking lessons and sustainable living classes.
Fresh Roots in Vancouver, Canada partners with school communities to grow community gardens, promote food literacy, and further their vision of “Good Food For All.”
Enriched Foods Miami provides meals to people in need through partnering with city restaurants to create meals from excess food.
Go ahead and research similar organizations you can get involved with within your community. Consider ways you can support food security and let us know how we can help by connecting with us on IG and FB @EmpowHERto.
Founded in 2015, EmpowHERto is a Toronto-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping 14-21 year-old women and girls reach their fullest potential.
EmpowHERto is as strong as the community that holds it up. Together, we can do more than we can do alone. Let’s bring our abilities and passions together to affect real change.