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Sunday, April 21, 2024

September is Hunger Action Month


Although we’ve been officially measuring it since 1995, I learn more about “food insecurity” every day. Before my Loaves & Fishes days, I might have easily skipped over this information, which is usually listed among long indexes describing the quality of life in our community.

In DuPage County, recent food insecurity ratings estimate that 8 percent of our population and 14.6 percent of our children are experiencing conditions that limit access to sufficient quantities of safe, nutritious food that allows them to live active, healthy and productive lives. That’s the official definition of food insecurity. Families are experiencing food insecurity when they worry that they will not have enough money to buy food at the end of the month, they can’t afford balanced meals, or they skip meals to save money.

I used to wonder why the food insecurity index is listed within health and nutrition information and not among poverty statistics. Although many might correlate food insecurity with poverty and limited income, the consequences of food insecurity affect us most dramatically at the community health level. Food insecurity is essentially a public health concern.

Food insecurity can be indicated in the number of emergency room visits and in the number of children prepared to succeed in schools. Food insecurity affects the rising obesity index, increase in diabetes and depression and suicide levels. It stretches into the numbers of small children that aren’t meeting age requirements on developmental growth charts.

We should be checking in the classroom, the doctor’s office, emergency rooms, the home and even in the workplace. Loaves & Fishes is moving into new areas of collaboration with community members to identify families that need better access to healthy foods. We have introduced screening tools to assess food insecurity with broad application possibilities for hospitals, family medical practices and early childhood educators. If we are better at recognizing food insecurity, then together we can put appropriate solutions in place – solutions that reduce healthcare costs and support our local education goals. That’s the power of community.

Join Loaves & Fishes for Hunger Action Month in fighting hunger and food insecurity in our community. Visit loaves-fishes.org for the hunger facts.

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Jane Macdonald
Jane Macdonaldhttp://www.loaves-fishes.org/
Jane Macdonald is the Associate Director of Community Health at Loaves & Fishes Community Services. Contact her at jmacdonald@loaves-fishes.org or visit www.loaves-fishes.org.


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