In the U.S. nearly all people consume enough calories daily but they are not necessarily getting the nutrients they need for long-term health. Malnutrition, meaning bad nutrition, is most likely to occur among the poor. Organizations working to help the hungry are trying to address individual nutritional needs and provide healthy alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetables, often with the help of local farmers.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a brief “Making the Connection: Linking Policies that Prevent Hunger and Childhood Obesity” that outlines the relationship between food insecurity and obesity. Policies discussed in the brief include establishing healthy food financing initiatives to increase access to nutritious foods, supporting farm to institution and farm to school programs, and increasing free and reduced-price school meals.
A study conducted by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) found that in 2011 nearly one in five Americans reported inability to afford enough food. The three worst cities in the US for food hardship are Bakersfield, CA, Fresno, CA and Asheville, NC and regionally the hardest hit were the Southeast and Southwest regions.
Food for Thought, a resource from SesameStreet.org, is a bilingual multimedia program designed to help families who have children ages 2 to 8 and lack access to affordable and healthy food. Learn strategies for coping with food insecurity and get tips for teaching children healthy eating habits.
‘Finding North' examines hunger in the US and the serious economic, social and cultural implications for the nation. The film argues that 49 million Americas are hungry and profiles three Americans that shed light on food insecurity, diet related diseases, and government spending on food stamps and childhood nutrition programs.
The debate on organic agriculture’s ability to address global food security continues. Barry Estabrook asserts that the claim that organic agriculture cannot produce enough food is a tired argument. He names several scientific research studies that conclude organic and other sustainable farming methods are necessary to feed the future world.
A virtual discussion area for nutrition, obesity, and food insecurity in the US, Snap to Health was created to improve the health and nutrition of Americans enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Learn about SNAP, latest SNAP news, and get involved at Snap to Health!
The USDA ERS website has many food access related resources including:
- A Publications webpage with over 800 reports on nutrition, farm economy, policy topics, and the rural economy
- The ERS Food Security Briefing Room webpage covers the history of food security, statistics on food hardship and key terms involved in dealing with food security
- Food Environmental Atlas page provides a spatial overview of a community's ability to access food
- State Fact Sheets include information on “population, income, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports.”
This report, written by Alessandro Bonanno and Jing Li from the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Pennsylvania State University, analyzes the effect that access to different types of food outlets have on household food insecurity levels.
The 2001 Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study is one of the very first studies to look at the effect that the environment has on food choices. Over 10,000 participants were given questionnaires about their dietary intake in order to study the association between the local food environment and the location of grocery stores and the intake of fruits and vegetables.
This 2009 USDA Economic Research Service report looks at several national conditions and trends of food insecurity in low-income households, household spending on food, the use of federal and community food assistance programs, and how food pantries are used as emergency kitchens.