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Food insecurity is an issue

“I remember watching Mom push her food around on her plate to make it look like she was eating.” The man was reminiscing about his childhood. “She was making sure Dad ate because he had to go to work and support our family. She said her children had to eat well so they could learn at school. She often went without eating, said she wasn’t hungry, because there just wasn’t enough food. There were a lot of doctor bills and hospital bills then. And not enough money coming in even though Dad worked every day and every bit of overtime he could get.”

Some things never change. Hunger + Health: Feeding America (hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org) reports on the complexity of a problem called “food insecurity,” which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

“Many people do not have the resources to meet their basic needs, challenges which increase a family’s risk of food insecurity. Though food insecurity is closely related to poverty, not all people living below the poverty line experience food insecurity and people living above the poverty line can experience food insecurity.”

There are four ranges of food security, reports The Center for Community Solutions.

• High Food Security: There is never a problem or anxiety about having enough healthy food.

• Marginal Food Security: Occasional times when there is difficulty accessing food, but without substantial negative effects.

• Low Food Security: Reduced quality, variety and desirable food, but they do eat.

• Very Low Food Security: Lack of money or other resources to get enough food to feed the whole family.

In Columbiana County, reports The Center for Community Solutions, there are an estimated15,280 food insecure people. One in four children lives in poverty. The living wage here is estimated at $53,015 per year. The median income is $45,389. Minimum wage for a 40-hour work week is $16,952 for the year. The poverty threshold is $20,780. Where do you fit into the picture? How do you manage to make ends meet – or at least wave at each other?

“Chronic disease begins,” says Hunger + Health: Feeding America, “when an individual or family cannot afford enough nutritious food … The combination of stress and poor nutrition can make disease management even more challenging. Further, the time and money needed to respond to these health conditions strains the household budget, leaving little money for essential nutrition and medical care.” The risk of worsening existing health conditions becomes higher: a cycle spins on and on.

The Health Affairs periodical reports that almost 50 million people are food insecure in the United States, which makes food insecurity one of the nation’s leading health and nutrition issues. Food-insecure children are at least twice as likely to report being in fair or poor health and at least 1.4 times more likely to have asthma, compared to food-secure children, the article reports, and food insecure seniors have limitations in activities of daily living comparable to those of food-secure seniors 14 years older. The SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) substantially reduces the prevalence of food insecurity and thus is critical to reducing negative health outcomes.

There is so much information to share about the problem of food insecurity, more than can be shared in this space. Become more informed by doing your own research into the topic. A good place to start is the Hunger + Health: Feeding America website. The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is very significant to good health and well being.

Family Recovery Center doesn’t help only families with addiction issues. FRC can help families find ways to navigate through these challenging times. For more information about how FRC can assist you with the anxiety and stress of Covid-19, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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