What is Food Insecurity in America?

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Aug 20, 2023
Cite this
Date added
Pages:  5
Words:  1362
Order Original Essay

How it works

Throughout the United States, access to healthy food is a privilege. Cumulative institutionalized racism is deeply embedded in the foundation of the country, throughout historical and present public policies, ultimately manifesting injustice within many entities throughout the nation, specifically the food industry (American Civil Liberties Union). This oppressive industry, which includes fast food corporations and agricultural components, takes advantage of vulnerable minority and low-income populations.

They do this in many ways, some of which include manipulating the market, pushing out the produce-selling stores and replacing them with cheaply produced, nutrient-lacking fast food businesses in poor communities, with support from the government in the form of subsidies.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

Low-income populations, most often people of color, live in food deserts, where access to markets and grocery stores is limited. Meanwhile, convenience stores and fast food chains are densely distributed throughout low-income neighborhoods (“Preventing Chronic Disease”).

Thus, the food industry, with government support, acts as an oppressive agent in society by targeting and manipulating these disadvantaged communities. Race-based fast food advertising disproportionately targets these populations as for the industry, profit is the only goal. This advertising is most commonly referred to as “Targeted Marketing” throughout much of public health and sociological literature. Ross D.Petty, et al. from the Michigan Journal of Race and Law affirms that “…minority exposure to the media and advertising tends to be higher than that of the general population.”

Many studies from various other entities confirm these heightened exposure rates, one of which being the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who also states that “…lower-income groups had greater exposure to fast-food restaurant ads compared to full-service ads” (“African American Collaborative”).

This can also be seen where schools are permitted and encouraged to advertise fast food. Consequently, these communities, specifically the youth, are bombarded by these messages. Educational injustices then emerge as children who have poor nutrition are more likely to function poorly in school, missing school days because of “weakened immune systems” and “decreased cognitive function” (American Civil Liberties Union). The health disparities, including a disproportionate number of adverse health outcomes compared to other populations and a lack of accessible food resources, are too often blamed on the individual.

A California Law Review out of the Berkeley School of Law states that “Food oppression is structural because it is not the product of individual acts of discrimination, but stems rather from the institutionalized practices and policies of government and the fast food industry” (Freeman). Discriminatory housing practices, misuse of zoning laws, and the systematic disinvestment in inner cities as well as the practices mentioned before are just a few of the many institutional practices working against populations of color. Therefore, institutions justify poor personal diet choices and the lack of willpower as the sole contribution to negative health outcomes, rather than considering the surrounding environmental implications as well.

However, research and evidence-based literature state that diet is the main influencer in health outcomes. An individual or community cannot work to change their diet habits while the social institutions and policies in place constantly work against their achievement of better health. Food insecurity has negative impacts on people’s health, ultimately affecting the individual and the community at the same time. These negative consequences can affect both women and children in various ways in regards to their general health and can also economically affect the community.

The impact of food insecurity on women has negative consequences for their health and wellbeing. For instance, obesity affects women more than children and men, and there is strong evidence linking this issue to food insecurity. Women often prioritize their children and family’s nutritional needs over their own, frequently eating a less nutritious diet to ensure their family’s survival (Hartline-Grafton, 2018).

People who are food insecure and live in low-income suburbs often face many challenges, such as concern over when their next meal will be. Food insecurity can increase the risk for stress and anxiety, which can impact a person’s mental health. Families facing hunger and limited resources are under significant pressure due to fears of the situation worsening. They are often already in low-wage jobs and do not have enough resources when needs exceed available supplies.

This situation can increase psychological distress and lead to negative behavior, such as committing robbery to get money to provide food (frac.org). As for children in these families, they often experience negative health consequences. Children growing up in households with limited food resources frequently have health issues such as anemia, obesity, and behavioral problems due to a lack of enough food or low nutritional quality food access. They also tend to visit the doctor more frequently compared to healthy children.

On the academic side, they are more likely to frequently miss school and perform poorly because of inadequate concentration. Not consuming a sufficient amount of nutritious food can negatively affect brain function, preventing them from thinking clearly or paying attention (Black, 2012). Food insecurities not only impact women and children’s health, but they also put a huge strain on healthcare costs and the economy.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) between 2005 and 2015 showed that reasons for seeking medical treatment are mostly associated with food insecurity and hunger. This also happens as individuals take sick days off and miss work. It adds to the cost of healthcare, producing an estimated $160 billion in 2014 (Grossman, 2015). Access to healthy food is a fundamental building block for a productive life.

While federal food assistance benefits are vital to allowing low-income families to buy food, the lack of access to healthy, fresh food contributes to poor health outcomes and increases the risk of diet-related chronic illnesses (Fair Food Network). Federal services such as Double up Food Bucks, Food Stamps, WIC, Food Pantries or Food Banks, and Co-op credit unions, all assist the needs of low-income families.

These benefits support individuals by providing them with healthy food choices, vouchers for families, assistance for women and children, community-provided food for families in need, and credible financial alternatives. These services can eventually influence public policy for future federal nutrition assistance programs, addressing health, hunger, and nutrition and supporting a more sustainable food and financial system (Fair Food Network).

The Double Up Food Bucks program uses existing infrastructure, farmers’ markets, and the Michigan Bridge Card to improve access to and afford fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families (Fair Food Network). SNAP, better known as food stamps, offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families, and provides economic benefits to communities (Food and Nutrition Service, 2018).

The programs work with a nutrition educator to help ensure eligibility for dietary assistance. WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children, and provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women (Food and Nutrition Service, 2018). Many communities have a local food pantry, sometimes called a food bank. Most of these community food pantries are promoted by local area churches and/or community alliances.

A community food pantry’s mission is to directly serve local residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurity within a specified area. Independent community food pantries are self-governing and usually distribute food to their clients on a once-a-month basis. A food bank is a storehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community (Food Bank of the Southern Tier). Co-ops assist communities with financial services, and their solutions provide everything you may need, from in-class processing and payment tools to behind-the-scenes consulting and intelligence.

Food insecurity affects an extensive amount of people throughout the United States. It is no surprise that the distribution of the food industry is in need of great change. The negative effects of this system most commonly occur in low-income and minority communities, as the privileged and elite profit at their expense. Although there are federal benefits and organizations combating this issue, it is not enough. Political action, community organizing, and individual advocacy is needed to create change in this oppressive system, with support from people of all backgrounds. We must not shy away from the conversation about racism because it still exists in many forms, and continues to disadvantage communities to this day.

The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

What Is Food Insecurity in America?. (2019, Apr 23). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-is-food-insecurity-in-america/