The Food Shortage Epidemic Within Our Existing Pandemic
Updated: Jan 20
What’s the Fuss About Food Security?
Food is becoming more difficult to come by in America. 82 million people in the United States claimed to be food insecure in 2020 - meaning they are unable to acquire food or unsure where their next meal will come from. An additional 26.5 million people live in food deserts, which are areas where fresh produce is unavailable or difficult to obtain.
I’m currently on a diet that doesn’t allow for dairy, and the anger that overcomes me when I am unable to find cashew yogurt as a substitute to make my fruit smoothies is only surpassed by the emotions I feel when I’m putting together Ikea furniture or trying to figure out how to upload one of our podcast episodes. Computers, furniture and cashew yogurt - three things that’ll really rile me up!
What happens when someone needs to find foods to combat illness? What happens when your need to find food is less trivial? When it’s much more dire? When fresh produce isn’t available and you’re working yourself to the bone, it isn’t always feasible to find foods to put you on the healthy track. When you can find them, they’re often priced out of our reach.
How does living in a food desert affect a community?
All of our typical American health concerns, from obesity and diabetes, to cardiovascular disease are all much more prevalent in food deserts. These diseases increase risk of Covid being a critical blow to someone’s health. As trends like this often prove to do, they disproportionately affect people in lower socioeconomic environments. They are often people of color in cities, and many white Americans living in rural America.
When affordable healthy options are not available, most people will opt for denser caloric, less healthy options like fast food and convenience stores. When someone grows up with those limited options, reversing those habits are difficult, especially when marketers focus their ad spends on these communities to promote their least healthy foods.
For the longest time, I drank Sunny Delite as a kid. My mom thought it was great because it was “Packed with Vitamin C!” but really it was brimming with sugar. These marketing strategies aim to deceive and they are all the stronger in areas where healthy options are not available. The only reason I don’t eat Hostess cupcakes ALL the time is because I keep them the hell out of sight. When you’re given that option, and nothing else of higher health value, then you’re gonna eat those cupcakes!
Who is working to combat food insecurity?
There are tons of organizations working on alleviating some of these issues, but they have definitely been exasperated by the pandemic. Food insecurity is skyrocketing but there are also tons of groups popping up to address those issues.
Franqi and myself were lucky to speak with Jared Mintz from Commonpoint Queens on the Non Prophets Podcast to talk about the incredible work they are doing to get food to those in need. It was not a project they typically enlisted in. Their focus has been to provide community services to the people of Queens, but in a five month period they delivered over one million pounds of food to people in Queens. This is just one example of the hundreds of nonprofits that sprung into action when the pandemic took hold. You can find your local organization and volunteer or give to support the work they are doing. For every five dollars you donate to Commonpoint Queens, you will provide twenty pounds of food for someone in need!
Wherever you live, there is going to be an organization doing the same. When you find them, let them know we’d love to raise money for them through our virtual comedy shows!
Remember this pandemic is affecting some populations worse…
This pandemic has been hard on all of us, but it is particularly bad for people experiencing food insecurity. It’s definitely a time to count your blessings, and support others if you have the bandwidth of financial ability to do so.
Our March comedy shows will all be to support people who are experiencing food insecurity, and you should keep a lookout to join the shows and fundraise with us. If you have a group who we can raise money for through our monthly virtual comedy showcases, or through our sponsored podcasts, we would love to hear about it! Feel free to drop us a line here.