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.
‘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 2012 edition of the Bread for the World Institute’s annual Hunger Report was released November 21. The report contends that current farm policies are not doing enough to contribute to a healthy food system. Policies need to change to encourage production of healthy foods.
A vast collection of resources, organizations, community gardens, and reports related to food security, food systems, sustainable agriculture, farmers markets, food policy and a variety of food access issues.
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.”
PolicyLink provides resources such as webinars, case-studies, and toolkits on food access issues, including those specifically in communities of color, and includes resources that focus on the links between obesity and the environment, and healthy food retail models.
PHLP’s document library covers a range of topics related to food access; including healthy planning, farmers markets, healthy retail, childhood obesity, economic development, joint use agreements, mobile vending and produce carts, legislation, menu labeling and redevelopment.
The TEFAP Alliance is a coalition of local, state and national organizations involved with The Emergency Assistance Food Program based in Sacramento, California. Their Foodlinks Newsletter covers a wide variety of food policy and food access news, upcoming legislation, and news from the city, state and national hunger community.
The FRAC data and publication page provides food hardship data by Congressional district and national, state and county-by-county SNAP participation data from across the US, and also has several reports on US poverty with data provided by the US Census Bureau. Their Legislative Action Center provides resources and advocacy tools to fight hunger, tools to promote anti-hunger policies in the 2012 Farm Bill, and an overview and updates on budget issues affecting anti-hunger legislation.
Feeding America’s website features resources for food banks, provides contact information for their network of US food banks, advocacy tools, policy resources, resource guides on childhood food insecurity, emergency food assistance, and general studies on hunger in America.
Roots of Change is a network in California whose goal is to establish a more sustainable food system by 2030. The issues they focus on include economic prosperity, environment and climate, healthy food access, and valued workforce. On their Healthy Food Access website, there are resources for non-profits, entrepreneurs, and farmers and ranchers.
The WHY Hunger resource page includes reports on hunger, advocacy tools, federal nutrition policy tools, and farm to school program models. Their resource directory is a searchable database of food pantries, health care services, economic development resources and anti poverty organizations. Their Food Security Learning Center page includes information on a wide variety of food access topics such as farm to school, land use planning, local and regional food systems, and climate change.
The recently updated USDA Food Atlas is designed to provide a spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and currently assembles 168 indicators of the food environment, up from the original 90 indicators of food access. The measures include factors such as availability of food stores and restaurants, food prices, socioeconomic characteristics, and health outcomes.
A two day workshop in January 2009 put on by the Institute of Medicine addressed the implications of food deserts and provided feedback on the USDA’s Food Desert Study. Speakers discussed how to measure and understand the extent to which food deserts occur in the United States; their impact on individuals’ behavior and health effects; and strategies to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables in communities.
This 2009 USDA Economic Research Service report presents results from a survey on households’ food security, food expenditures, and use of food and nutrition assistance programs.
This toolkit from the Food Research and Action Center provides information on funding for SNAP outreach activities; including competitive grants, outreach grants and reimbursements, and strategies to increase access to SNAP.
This report from the Center for American Progress looks into states’ food systems and nutrition needs- particularly the food insecurity reduction needs and obesity-reduction needs of low-income citizens and struggling family farms.
This USDA Economic Research Service report presents findings from a one year study used to determine the problems of limited food access, considers the effects of limited access on local populations, and outlines recommendations for how to address the problem.