Food insecurity exists in most countries around the global world, but the common determinants of food insecurity in various countries have not yet been formalized.
It is widely accepted that food security is when all people at any time, they can have access to sufficient, healthy, nutritious and safe food or drinks. But how to define the food insecurity, it is kind of hard to measure which people are suffering the food insecurity.
There is some misunderstandings of food insecurity on FIES( Food Insecurity Experience Scale) which people might have:
- Food insecurity is not “the government’s definition of hunger.” This is a broader term that describes the mechanisms by which hunger and famine can be used to prevent hunger.
- Food insecurity is a family situation, not a personal one. While food insecurity affects everyone in every family, it may shield some of the caregivers of certain individuals (such as children) from different occupations in certain settings from some aspects of food insecurity.
- Food insecurity is a long period measure. It can not be said now that a food-insecure family is hungry, hungry tonight or wondering where the next meal comes from. Studies show that food insecurity is often accidental and often cyclical.
- Food insecurity does not mean that families have no access to grocery stores, living in “food deserts” or have no time to shop or cook. It simply refers to the lack of access to food based on financial and other resources. food foundation
Food insecurity has varying degrees of severity:
- Mild food insecurity which is worrying about the ability to obtain food.
- Moderate food insecurity which is compromising quality and variety of food.
- Extreme food insecurity which is exercising hunger and going without food.
The most deprived households in the UK spent almost a quarter of their income on food in 2012 compared with an annual spend of around four per cent by the most affluent households. At least 500,000 people in the UK are now food-insecure. The UK ranks in the bottom half of European countries. And in US, food insecurity is a persistent social problem affecting one out eight households. (Coleman-Jensen)
The Impact of household risks
- financial strain
Household food insecurity is linked to financial instability, which includes payment of bills and shopping difficulties, and is more prevalent among unemployed or disabled adults. What’s more, the number of adult high school graduates is 10 times more than that of an adult college student.
- maternal poor health and risky health behaviors
Previous studies considered poor health, anxiety, depression and obesity as the negative effects of food insecurity and found a positive correlation between adult food insecurity and health outcomes. There is a two-way relationship between mother’s depression and food insecurity. And those women who have experienced physical and mental illness and engage in dangerous health behaviors.
- Family disruption and conflict
Children who do not have a two-parent households as having experienced family disruption. Family disruption could be the result of a separation of the relationship or the imprisonment of parents. That the family experienced difficulties when the father was imprisoned. However, since incarceration reduces personal employment opportunities and incomes and limits economic mobility, food difficulties can persist long after her father reintegrates into society (Hernandez, Daphne C)
Urgent action needs to be taken by national and local authorities around the world which address the food insecurity.
The design of the Food Bank is a community-based project where food is donated by locals, stored locally and distributed to locals in need.
Urgency food banks have become increasingly prominent and controversial tightening features in Europe and the United States. In the UK, the food bank is called a “public health emergency.” Emergency food banks have emerged in the UK across Europe and the USA as a reaction by the charitable sector to rising food insecurity amongst individuals and families (Lambie-Mumford).
Trussell Trust is a good example of a UK Food Bank franchise that provides users with redemption vouchers for three days of emergency food supplies. The Food Bank model is designed as an emergency intervention to provide food to people in the short term while waiting for the support of other services. It is described in the Trussell Trust Operations Manual.
But there is some negative affects on the food bank. The lifestyle choices of food bank users have been called into question by the government and the mass media. Food bank users making use of a system where no real need exists; instead, the ‘undeserving poor’ are seeking out bargains so they can spend their money on luxury items such as alcohol, cigarettes and large televisions (K.A.Garthwaite).
Informal assistance to household food insecurity
Food insecurity has been found to have many negative consequences on health such as diabetes, chronic disease, poor health, sleep disruptions, asthma, as well as behaviors and cognitive problems in children (Gundersen).
Public assistance programs specifically targeted at reducing food insecurity, such as the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), have been found to have been found to effectively improve the food security of low-income children and their families. Although there is an informal organization called “Social Capital,” much-needed assistance is provided to families. Social capital comes from several researchers, there are two different ways. One view is the social cohesion of labels, which treats social capital as a source of resources (trust, regulation and enforcement sanctions) available to members of social groups. Another view is to adopt a social networking approach and define it as social support embedded in one’s social.
Social cohesion is part of the social environment of the neighborhood and can affect health and wellness related behaviors. It has two components: 1) There is no potential social conflict. 2) There is a strong social connection. Also social support is a kind of social capital for daily problems that residents can take advantage of (King, Christian).