Making healthy food choices is a challenge of willpower for many of us, but for others it simply isn’t an option. According to a USDA report, more than 38 million people in the U.S. experienced food insecurity in 2020. Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life. Most frequently, this insecurity is a result of income limitations, but for some it may be lack of local availability. Food deserts are locations in which at least a third of the residents live at least a mile (urban areas) or ten miles (rural areas) from the closest supermarket. Whether lack of access stems from income or availability – or both – the result is often poor-quality diets that do not support health and wellness. October 16th is World Food Day and it’s a perfect time to bring attention to that fact that not everyone has access to nutritious food.
Food Insecurity in Orange County
A look at the numbers in Orange County reveals that 20.8% of children in Orange County are considered food insecure. Of these, 28% are ineligible for federal nutrition programs that provide grocery assistance to families. Many times, this is where food banks and other local charities attempt to fill the gap. Educational organizations such as UF/IFAS Extension offer programs to help families make the most of their shopping budget and choose healthy options.
4-H Garden Clubs
Orange County 4-H is supporting good nutrition for children through 4-H Garden Clubs. These clubs are found in schools in the zip codes most affected by food insecurity. Schools receive raised bed gardens and the children plant, care for, and harvest fresh vegetables for two growing seasons. The third through fifth grade students learn both gardening and nutrition over the course of the 24-week program. Results from the last two years indicate more than 50% of students were attempting to eat more vegetables and more than 70% learned gardening skills because of participation. Gardening skills can potentially translate into home gardens that provide a low cost source of healthy produce for families.
Supporting World Food Day
If you would like to do your part to support World Food Day, Orange County Extension is collecting peanut butter during the month of October. The Orange County 4-H Kick-Off will take place at the Extension Center on Saturday, October 15th from 9 to 12 and we will collect peanut butter donations from the public. All peanut butter collected will be donated to local food banks. Another way to show support is the World Food Day poster contest for youth ages 5-19. Posters should show a world where everyone has access to healthy food. The deadline to enter is November 4th.
For more information about the 4-H Program or the Kick-Off event, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-254-9222.
Links to Resources Mentioned:
Home | World Food Day | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (fao.org)
Poster contest| World Food Day | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (fao.org)
People in food-insecure households – USAFacts
Overall (all ages) Hunger & Poverty in Orange County, Florida | Map the Meal Gap (feedingamerica.org)
Nutrition, Child Development, and Family Nutrition – UF/IFAS Extension (ufl.edu)