Opinion: Food insecurity and the holiday season

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor is a freshman journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

In America, we have many fast-food chains, high-end restaurants, low-end restaurants and grocery stores. There are even aisles of snacks at gas stations. Fortunately starvation is not rampant among Americans, but food insecurity is an issue.

Food insecurity in America is not due to the underproduction of food, but the inability to afford meals. In America, the food supply is definitely ample, but with unemployment still at a high and food prices on the rise, people can’t afford to eat. In 2011, 14.9 percent of households were food-insecure. In 2011, 50.1 million people lived in food-insecure homes: 33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children. In 2011, 4.8 million seniors suffered from food insecurity, according to Feeding America.

At one point in most of our lives, even if we didn’t fully realize it, we suffered from food insecurity. It is a serious issue that food prices are on a steady rise. Unemployment has decreased from 9 percent in August 2011 to 7.3 percent in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this still leaves about 4.3 million long-term unemployed people in America today.

October is here, which means the holiday season is approaching. In Ohio, we decorate for the season ahead of time. Halloween decorations were flooding our stores in late August into early September.

We are pressured to recognize the holidays whether we want to or not. The most popular holidays approaching us are Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holiday traditions are based heavily on meals and family. Unfortunately, many families and individuals will use either government food assistance or public food banks to obtain their holiday meals. According to the Huffington Post, about 42 million Americans used food stamps for Thanksgiving in 2012. Some families don’t even know where their meal will come from, and others have been attending food banks on the holidays for years.

In my College Writing II course, we have a requirement to complete at least two hours of community service on three separate days at a place servicing meals to the community. We have focused a great amount of attention on food insecurity and serving the community with food in this course. Several food companies will advertise family-oriented meal commercials this holiday season. These commercials will flood our televisions for about three months.

Many people do not have this ideal life. We can make a difference for these people in their holiday and their life by volunteering. As college students, we have a responsibility to serve our communities. Take a friend or few along with you for the experience; you may enlighten others around you to give back to the community. Travel back home to assist or lend a helping hand right here in Portage County, everywhere it is needed. According to Feeding America, food insecurity exists in every county in America.

Food insecurity may be around for many years to come, but no one should go hungry. On a local scale, we can help reduce the amount of people who don’t receive meals on a regular basis. Not just for the holidays, but every day.