Home • Camden County News Addressing food insecurity in the South Jersey area

Addressing food insecurity in the South Jersey area

Food insecurity continues to be a pressing issue for individuals and families in South Jersey and Camden County.

The term food insecurity is officially recognized by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and is defined as the inability to access enough nutritious food for a healthy and active life.

Statistics are stark: More than 44 million Americans – including 13 million children – experience food insecurity each year. But the problem extends beyond those numbers, as millions more who don’t meet the definition of food insecurity still rely on charitable assistance to meet their needs. And working families are not immune as they struggle to pay for basic needs like child care, according to CNN.

“Even though there are a lot of jobs available, and the unemployment rate is low, we’re seeing food insecurity increasing,” said Chloe East, of the Brookings Institution. “And now food insecurity is just as bad as it was in the first few months of the pandemic.”

Food insecurity is not a personal failure but is rooted in various factors, according to experts. Those who face hunger in the area often grapple with high living costs, expensive housing, unemployment and low-wage jobs. The lack of affordable housing, in particular, poses a significant challenge by leaving little financial room for families to purchase food after they pay for shelter.

Not having adequate food can exacerbate health conditions as medical expenses drain financial resources and the needy experience conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The stress and anxiety of not knowing where the next meal is coming from can also take a toll on mental well being, leading to depression and related issues. And hungry individuals may struggle to concentrate in school or at work, leading to decreased productivity and missed opportunities.

But there’s another, more insidious reason for food insecurity. According to feedingamerica.org, systemic issues such as racism and discrimination also contribute to higher rates of the problem among marginalized communities, including people of color, LGBTQ individuals and the disabled.

Sources for donated food are abundant in South Jersey, which is home to a number of pantries and nonprofits that provide assistance to vulnerable communities. Camden County has several such organizations, including Staying the Course Inc., For the Love of Pete’s Pantry and Community Care Food & Clothing Pantry.

Local residents can also help alleviate the problem by donating to the nonprofits, joining fundraisers, volunteering at food banks or supporting local initiatives.

For more information on ways to help the hungry, visit the Facebook pages of local organizations and the county website.

Exit mobile version