Health & Wellness

Hunger: A Systemic Problem #GivingTuesday (and Every Day)

27 Nov , 2018  

Mmmm… looks yummy, doesn’t it? A healthy, vegetarian lunch! Something many of us have the luxury of taking for granted. When we think of hunger and poverty, what pops to mind first? Homeless, unemployed people living on the streets or in shelters? The guy panhandling at the intersection as we reflexively lock the car doors and avert our eyes? I often think of the quiet, unassuming woman who left her home on a table outside a local restaurant while she went in to use the restroom and wash up, before pitching her tent again, somewhere under a bridge along the creek.

The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a socioeconomic condition of limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life, or, being at-risk of hunger. The majority of food insecure people are:

  • Working: Two-thirds of food insecure families with children have at least one working adult.
  • Not homeless: 97% of people served by the Houston Food Bank have permanent housing.
  • Seniors: 20% of people served by the Houston Food Bank are age 60 or older.

Food insecure families are facing tough choices about how to stretch their budgets:

  • “Do I buy food or pay for my child’s medical treatments?”
  • “Do I pay rent or buy food?”
  • “Do I buy food and eat it cold, in the dark?”
  • “How will I get to work – or the grocery store – without transportation?”

The food budget tends to appear more flexible than rent, mortgage, utilities, transportation, and medical bills. But growing children, developing minds, growling stomachs, and starved immune systems aren’t always so flexible as they may seem.

You can help! Go to my #GivingTuesday Fundraiser for Houston Food Bank on Facebook (open for another 14 days), or donate directly or volunteer at the Houston Food Bank‘s website. Each $1 gift provides three meals for a hungry child, senior, or adult.

Need more info? Read on.

The Consequences of Hunger

Active, growing children and pregnant women have greater nutrient needs and may be the first to show signs of deficiencies. Undernourished pregnant women tend to have low birth weight babies who, in turn, suffer a variety of health complications – leading to more tough choices between medical care and food for the rest of the family. Undernourished infants are at greater risk of dying within their first year of life.

Iron deficiency anemia is a form of malnutrition affecting nearly 25% of poor children in the nation. Anemia is associated with impaired cognitive development, poor attention span, and impaired memory. It is now known to have a severe impact on cognitive development.

Chronic hunger in adults weakens bone and muscles, worsens existing health problems, and contributes to depression and lack of energy. Hunger can lead to headaches, fatigue, frequent colds, and other illnesses. Good nutrition is needed for a healthy immune system.

Hunger can have a devastating emotional impact; in a culture that encourages self-reliance, individuals who need food assistance may hesitate to seek help, and they may be unaware that help is available to them.

Source: Hunger 101

 

Source: Houston Food Bank Impact Report

I have volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, and it is an experience I highly recommend for individuals, families (including children!), and groups from the office or local clubs and organizations looking for fun, educational, and beneficial “team building activities.” You’ll learn first-hand about the programs offered by the Houston Food Bank, and you’ll see the kind of impact your energy, efforts, and money can have on your community.

If you can donate, no gift is too large or too small. Visit my #GivingTuesday Fundraiser for Houston Food Bank on Facebook (open for another 14 days), or donate directly or volunteer at the Houston Food Bank‘s website. Remember: each $1 gift provides three meals for a hungry child, senior, or adult.

Watch this Houston Food Bank President & CEO, Brian Greene, discussing the future of food banking.

Help end hunger, and you also help to end a vicious cycle of poverty for families and communities. Whether you are able to give time, donate money, or not at this time, I hope you’ll also share this information with your friends. Just click the sharing buttons in the left sidebar! Happy holidays!

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2 Responses

  1. Bellybytes says:

    Hunger is a real issue and needs all the help one can give . I’m glad that there are so many people in this world who think of others and their problems . Indeed when our tables are full and tummies even fuller , we rarely have time to think of those who are hungry. But hungry people too can be fussy as I found once when I gave a hungry beggar boy a burger . When I saw him a minute later he was still begging . I asked him what he’d done with the burger I gave him and he said he passed it on to his friend because he thought my burger was non vegetarian!

    • Well, sure. Maybe he has religious or health reasons for a special diet, but at least he passed the food to another hungry person. You helped, he helped. If he were just an ingrate, he’d have tossed it in the trash.

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