Fighting food insecurity: Examples of action

We’ve looked at the health and economical costs of hunger and we’ve looked at the numbers that tell us just how big the problem of food insecurity is. Now, let’s start looking at examples of efforts to solve the problem.

Canned vegetables line the shelves of food pantry at San Antonio Community College. KENS 5 Eyewitness News

In south Texas,  students and staff at San Antonio College have launched a food pantry that’s part of their new  Student Advocacy Center (SAC). The food pantry came to fruition after staff members learned about a similar project in Amarillo at Amarillo College. Students can fill two bags with food, toiletries and many other things they’d find at a grocery store.

“Let us try and see if there’s not something we can bring to bear to keep you here,” said Lisa Black, SAC Co-creator and associate professor of social work at San Antonio College. “That gives people encouragement. It gives them hope that we can hang on to our students.”


Racism and Hunger

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a discussion panel on campus hosted by the Texas Tech Political Science Department. During the discussion, several on- and 0ff-campus experts talked about the reasons behind food insecurity and the tools needed to combat this issue.

Income disparity is one of the leading causes of lack of access to food choices. / Photo by me

One of the things mentioned was how income inequality (and really, inequality in all aspects of life) can impact not just a person’s own ability to afford food, but also, how it can impact their ability to actually access affordable, nutritious food. Businesses like grocery stores don’t build in low-income areas because they make more money in high-income areas. Instead, many rely on fast food that contributes to the health issues faced by those in poverty.

For a nation to effectively fight hunger, it must first focus on the issues that form the foundation of this issues. This article by Everyday Feminism expands on the idea that hunger is just one facet in the fight against inequality.

Hunger and the Economy: The true cost of food insecurity is a lot higher than we realize


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: The cost is high, but investing in solutions can improve nutritional outcomes long-term. Research shows investing $1.2 billion annually for five years would generate annual benefits of US$15.3 billion, a benefit-to-cost ratio of almost 13-to-1, and would result in better health, fewer deaths and increased future earnings (State of Food and Agriculture, 2013).

So far, we’ve looked at the mental and physical health effects that come with chronic hunger. We’ve also looked at just how hungry our Texas neighborhoods are. But what about the effects food insecurity has on our economy?

There have been several studies and reports published that analyze the economic effect of hunger, malnutrition, food insecurity and any other name people use when talking about people who do not have access to consistent, affordable and nutritious food. In a column on TribTalk, the Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm based in Waco, discusses the economic burden in Texas and says, “Hunger is, in fact, a pocketbook issue that hurts every corner of our economy. These costs multiply as they work their way through the economy and are borne by society through excessive and avoidable outlays for health care and education and diminished output.”

The cost of hunger isn’t just the cost of food. People who are food insecure have an increased incidence and severity of disease, which increases healthcare costs. Their health and education suffer, reducing productivity and lifetime earnings. As long as there is food insecurity, the costs will continue to grow.

In 2014 alone, the Perryman group estimates that food insecurity cost $44.2 billion in expenditures, $21.3 billion in gross product and almost 239,500 jobs in 2014.

That’s a big chunk of change.