Did you know an estimated 38 million adults and 12 million children face food insecurity daily in America? According to Feeding America, food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. Whether due to factors like inflation, supply shortages, or illness, there are many causes of food insecurity. The outcomes of food insecurity are well known. However, they include poor health outcomes, as individuals often have to choose between paying for costly medications or healthy foods, and delayed and slowed growth and development for adolescents, as food insecure children often lack the essential vitamins and nutrients for growth.
The first Friday in September is recognized as National Food Bank Day. In the 1960s, a man from Pheonix, Arizona, John Van Hengel, volunteered at a local soup kitchen. An impoverished mother at the soup kitchen spoke to Van Hengel about the need for a place where excess food could be stored and picked up by those in need rather than thrown away. Inspired, Van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix – America’s first food bank. Van Hengel would go on to create one of the nation’s most successful non-profits: Second Harvest. Second Harvest was dedicated to spearheading the growth of food banks across the country.
Thanks to Van Hengel’s work, there are now over 200 food banks nationwide that Van Hengel’s work has inspired. In 2008, Second Harvest became Feeding America. Today, Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, and last year alone served over 6.6 billion meals to Americans in need.
Feeding America is doing its part for food insecurity in America. Curious how you can do yours? For National Food Bank Day this year, donate at your local food bank, volunteer some of your time, or become familiar with the nearest food bank located in your county so that you can direct those in need!
Find your nearest food bank here:
Feeding America. (2022). Hunger in America. Effects of Hunger | Feeding America
Martin, D. (2005, October 8). John Van Hengel, 83, Dies; Set Up First Food Bank in U.S. New York Times. John van Hengel, 83, Dies; Set Up First Food Bank in U.S. – The New York Times (nytimes.com)