The USDA defines a household as food insecure if it reports that it had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all of its members due to a lack of resources.
In the City of Philadelphia, about one-quarter of the city’s population struggles with food insecurity, which is much higher than the national average. Across the nation, almost one in seven households— and almost one in five households with children—reported difficulty providing enough food in 2014 for all of their members. Households with children have a higher rate of food insecurity than households overall and households with seniors.
Elevated rates of food insecurity persist despite those households’ eligibility for additional nutrition support through the subsidized school meals programs and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
The vast majority of food-insecure households with children are working households: over 85 percent of households with children reporting food insecurity in 2014 also reported at least one adult who earned an income in 2014. Food-insecure households with children were slightly more likely to be headed by married couples (46.9 percent) than single mothers (44.6 percent). Among every type of household reporting food insecurity—i.e., households headed by married couples, single mothers, or single fathers—at least 75 percent of households had an earner during the year they experienced food insecurity. Nonetheless, the income generated by work over the year was not sufficient to protect those working families from food insecurity.
Access to food stamps at early ages—starting before birth in cases where the mother received food stamps during pregnancy, and continuing through age five—leads to a number of positive long-run health and economic outcomes.
Access to food stamps over this age range has substantial positive impacts on later health, lowering women’s and men’s incidence of metabolic syndrome—a health measure that includes diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and heart attack—by 0.3 and 0.5 standard deviations, respectively. Women are also 34 percentage points more likely to report excellent or very good health if they had access to food stamps from before birth through age five.
These gains also extend to economic outcomes. Women with access to the Food Stamp Program over the full early life period have much higher economic self-sufficiency—a measure that includes completed education, employment status, earnings, and financial success—than those who did not.
Furthermore, access to food stamps increased high school graduation rates by more than 18 percentage points. Access to food stamps and the NSLP also seems to improve educational outcomes among older children (ages 6 to 18) as well, which may indicate that better nutrition helps students gain more from school, setting them on a path toward greater self-sufficiency.
Obesity among food insecure people – as well as among low-income people – occurs in part because they face unique challenges in adopting and maintaining healthful behaviors, such as: lack of access to healthy, affordable foods in their neighborhoods, cycles of food deprivation and overeating, high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, fewer opportunities for physical activity, greater exposure to marketing of obesity- promoting products and limited access to health care.
Well…. nothing. However, at Zia we aim to provide delicious food that is high in protein, lower in fat and high in fiber, rather than foods higher in carbohydrates. Why?
According to National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) data, low-income adults who are food insecure are almost twice as likely to have diabetes as low-income adults who are food secure. One of the reasons why food insecurity itself may put someone at risk for developing diabetes is that a low- income person may feel forced to purchase and eat low cost foods, which tend to be foods high in refined carbohydrates. Examples of these types of foods include sugar, white rice, white flour, pasta, sweetened breakfast cereals, soda, and sweetened drinks.
At Zia, we seek to reduce the portion of our clients’ diet that consist of refined carbohydrates. So, we will never go out of our way to supply our clients with the same budget-conscious foods that they may already buy.
Coleman-Jensen et al.2015
https://www.brookings.edu/research/twelve-facts-about-food-insecurity-and-snap/ Hinrichs 2010; Hoynes, Schanzenbach, and Almond 2016