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On Philanthropy: Hungry for Change -- simple questions to ask about the ongoing problem of food insecurity in the US

Bruce DeBoskey, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

The winter holidays are right around the corner. Soon, many Americans will gather around the dinner table with family and friends to give thanks for abundant blessings and freedoms as they indulge in a cornucopia of delicious traditional foods. Leftovers will last for days.

Then, in December, people of different faiths and traditions will celebrate religious or cultural holidays — enjoying more festive and plentiful food and the added indulgence of gift-giving. These seasonal rituals and celebrations often leave many of us feeling stuffed and uncomfortable — in more ways than one.

As you plan for these next six weeks of abundance and gratitude, consider a few eye-opening facts:

—Over Halloween, Americans were expected to spend an all-time high of $10.14 billion, including $3 billion on candy, and a staggering $490 million on costumes for pets.

—Americans spend more than $8 billion a year on wrapping paper, much of which is not recyclable, and ends up in landfills.

—40 percent of the food produced in the United States, amounting to 80 billion tons, is never eaten. Rather, it is thrown away. Nearly 25% of the freshwater and 300 million barrels of the oil consumed for the production of food in the U.S. is wasted.

 

Despite these facts, many people in the United States are in need:

—Although hunger and food insecurity across the U.S. have dropped measurably over the last six months, thanks in significant part to increased government support, the amount of food being distributed by Feeding America’s partner food banks remains more than 55% above pre-pandemic levels.

—In 2020, over 38 million Americans (11.8 percent) lived in households that struggled with food insecurity, or lack of access to an affordable, nutritious diet, representing a 9 percent increase from 2019.

—One in 25 (3.9 percent) of households in the U.S. experienced very low food security, a more severe form of food insecurity, where households report regularly skipping meals or reducing intake because they could not afford more food.

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©2020 Bruce DeBoskey. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.