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

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
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less