IS THERE REALLY A NEED FOR EMERGENCY FOOD?
Unfortunately, yes. Experts say that people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from are experiencing “food insecurity.” And tens of millions of Americans face this situation every day.
This isn’t an exaggeration. According to recent reports, 18.5% of American households are considered “food insecure.” And at least 40 million U.S. residents—more than one in eight of our neighbors—actually received food aid in 2009.
In Montgomery County, more than 60,000 residents (about 6%) are food insecure. In some Silver Spring census tracts, more than 20% of residents are food insecure (data from Montgomery County’s FoodStat).
And while efforts to help are expanding, so is the need. According to Feeding America, a national organization of food banks, the number of Americans needing help with food has jumped 46% in the last three years. Numbers for children are up 50%, and for seniors up 64%.
Think of it this way: If you’re standing in a line in Silver Spring, one of the eight five people around you faces food shortages. And if your child is in a class of 28 people, 7 of their classmates may not be sure where their next meal is coming from. It’s shocking.
WHY ARE SO MANY OF OUR NEIGHBORS HUNGRY?
It’s not because there’s a shortage of food. America produces twice as much food as we need to feed everyone in our country. So what’s the problem?
Poverty. And distribution.
The economy is pretty good right now - unemployment is low, although there is a lot of hidden unemployment and underemployment (that’s why so many people drive for Uber and Lyft).
But some people simply can’t afford to buy enough food even when they are working, even working full time. Feeding America reports a third of all American families getting help with food have at least one person working. That’s why some people have to make difficult choices about what to spend their dollars on.
A SILVER LINING
Hidden in these alarming statistics is one bit of very good news: If 60 million Americans are “food insecure,” then about 250 million Americans are not.
So plenty of people can afford to offer a little help. Not everyone, of course… But more than enough to make a huge difference. You may be one of them.
That’s what the Silver Spring Neighborhood Food Project is all about.