National Geographic’s article, “The New Face of Hunger” examines food insecurity affecting working Americans, and the subsequent nutritional issues that follow from a lack of access to healthy meal options.
One in six Americans do not have enough food to eat. Contrary to the common misconception that most individuals struggling to find food are homeless or in extreme poverty, food insecurity also plagues working class Americans that must balance buying food with paying medical and utility bills and other living expenses. According National Geographic, over two-thirds of hungry households with children have at least one adult who works. These families may not be “starving” in the traditional sense, but they do worry about having enough food for their upcoming meals.
Unsurprisingly, families facing food insecurity struggle to eat nutritiously, especially in food deserts where supermarkets are located more than half a mile away. Limited public transportation often makes traveling to supermarkets extremely difficult or impossible. Additionally, fresh produce is not available in most food banks. Without access to supermarkets, many families do not have the ability to purchase nutritious food like fruits and vegetables. It is well known that inadequate nutrition has health consequences.
Even if Americans do have access to healthy food, the prices may be too expensive to buy enough fresh produce. “The New Face of Hunger” emphasizes that although fresh produce is necessary for meeting nutritional guidelines, importance is placed on crops like corn and soy that are then used in processed foods and to make corn syrup often found in sugary beverages. Simply because of cost, many Americans facing food insecurity primarily eat premade meals and processed foods. Global food expert Raj Patel explains, “We’ve created a system that’s geared toward keeping overall food prices low but does little to support healthy, high-quality food.”
In order to help families facing food insecurity meet nutrition guidelines, vitamins can supplement their daily food. Since food banks may not have the means to provide fruits and vegetables to their patrons, the distribution of vitamins at food banks will help people to receive important vitamins and nutrients found in produce.