Do you know what it means to be food insecure? These 7 facts may help.

Picture an average family — mom, dad, two kids — on the brink of going hungry right around the holidays.

They're not homeless. In fact, both parents have jobs, but they're low-paying jobs, which means living paycheck-to-paycheck is the norm.

Since money is incredibly tight, mom and dad may skip a meal here and there, so their kids can eat, but they manage to get by. That is, until their son winds up in the hospital with appendicitis, which inevitably gouges the meager savings they keep for emergencies.


Now this family has found itself in the terrifying position of not knowing how to pay for the next meal.

This scenario isn't a hypothetical and doesn't just exist in the poorer recesses of this country. It's all around us — in every county in America.  

Photo by Priscilla du Preez/Unsplash.

According to the USDA, 41 million Americans were food insecure in 2016 — that's 1 in every 8 people. That means you've probably interacted with people recently who are currently struggling to afford food for themselves and their families. And it's not that they're not trying — food insecurity can simply become the unfortunate reality when something more crucial, like medical care, needs to be paid for. Food is often the first thing on the chopping block.

Think that's surprising? Then there's probably a lot more you don't know.

Here are seven other facts about food insecurity in America and what we're doing to help stop it.

Photo by Brunel Johnson/Unsplash.

1. Food insecurity, on average, affects more women and people of color.

Based on statistics collected by The National Commission of Hunger, 12.8% of households run by women experience food insecurity compared to just 7% of male-run households. Meanwhile black households are more than twice as likely to experience hunger compared to white households. No doubt the gender and racial wage gaps have had some effect on these numbers.

2. A driving force behind food insecurity in America seems to be a lack of savings.

Photo by Allef Vinicius/Unsplash.

We all know we're supposed to put money aside for emergencies and big budget things, but it can be difficult when people have pressing needs like food, clothes, and shelter. According to a survey conducted by GOBankingRates, 57% of Americans currently have less than $1,000 in their savings. This means all it could take is one unpredicted medical issue to drain that savings and throw a family into a financial strain where their ability to buy food is compromised.

3. One person's incarceration can leave entire families hungry.

If a family's sole breadwinner is put in prison, it can become incredibly difficult for them to make ends meet and put food on the table. This doesn't necessarily change when that person is released. In fact, according to the The National Commission of Hunger's survey, 90% of formerly incarcerated individuals' households experience food insecurity. This is likely due to a number of factors, including how a prison record can affect job prospects.

4. Hunger affects many children's mental and physical health.

Photo via Free-Photos/Pixabay.

According to the nonprofit Feeding America, 13 million children face hunger in America today. If children under the age of 3 don't get enough food to eat, they face a whole host of health issues, including risks of anemia and asthma. As they grow up, lack of nutrition can cause social and behavioral issues, affect academic performance, and even increase suicidal thoughts and actions. It's amazing to think that regular meals can make such a difference.

5. In a country where so many people are food insecure, we waste an unfathomable amount of food every year.

72 billion pounds of perfectly good food goes into landfills and incinerators every year, and that doesn't include the food we throw away at home. In economic language, that's roughly $218 billion worth of food waste. Those statistics are even more absurd when you think about it in conjunction with how many people are going to bed hungry tonight. The solution to this terrible problem is staring up at us from giant landfills across the country.  

6. The good news is, a number of organizations are working to end hunger and food insecurity using surplus food.

Photo via Kroger.

The Kroger Family of Companies, one of the country's leading grocery retailers, donated the equivalent of 330 million meals to people in need in 2016. They take food that’s expiring, but still perfectly edible and nutritious, off their shelves and give it to organizations that help feed the hungry, thereby helping close the food waste gap.

They've also given $3 million to Feeding America in honor of its annual hunger awareness campaign, Bringing Hope to the Table.

7. You too can help end hunger and food insecurity by taking some simple steps.

Donations like the ones described above could not be completed without the charitable work of everyday people. Thanks to community efforts, this movement is making real progress. You can aid that progress by advocating to end hunger with organizations like Feeding America and, of course, by volunteering your time at a local food bank.

Food insecurity is an ongoing crisis in our country, but as long as there are people and organizations who strive to change that, American families that are struggling to eat will have a lifeline.

The next time you're at the grocery store, remember that family from above could be behind you in the checkout line, hoping they have enough money to cover basic supplies. Perhaps it's time to extend a hand to your neighbors?

Find out more about how The Kroger Family of Companies and Feeding America are helping combat food insecurity:

Kroger

Hunger could happen to any of us.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, December 20, 2017
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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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