Food Insecurity in Rural America

By: Saira Malhotra

Civil eats recently reported on a growing crisis that inflicts itself upon rural America: food insecurity. Many farmers are poor and struggling to buy food and there are growing concerns that even food security movements might forget to address them. Farmers are at the very source of food production and yet their access to it is scarce.  Parts of the problem lies in the fact rural areas reside in food deserts 'particular geographic areas where there is insufficient quantity and quality of food, or where food prices are systematically higher than in other regions'.

Approximately 800 counties in America have low access to food. Great Plains and The Rocky region make up a significant number of this. Furthermore, statistics show an alarming 1500 people in 4 counties of Iowa reside 20 miles away from a major food retailer. This problem blankets rural America and statistics show that 60% of people living in California are at least 3 miles away from a grocery store. Lack of transportation only increases the challenges with food insecurity as it makes it even harder for people to get to a grocery store.

As stated by the National Agricultural Worker Survey, farmers are paid approximately $8,000 a month. Given that a large number of farmers are Mexican immigrants, the situation becomes increasingly disturbing as part of that money is sent back home. Some of these farmers are further confronted with lack of work in the winter months as the industry slows down.

Aside from statistics, what does food insecurity mean for these people on a day to day basis? "When someone is food insecure, it's the anxiety of not being able to afford enough food. You may have enough food for the day, but you're worried about tomorrow or you're worried about next week," explains Mariana Chilton to CNN's Eatocracy, an expert on public health and nutrition.

Steps have been taken and should continue to be taken to mitigate the problem, according to Civil Eats. There are a number of community owned grocery stores and mobile markets aimed at tackling the food desert issues. In addition to this, public and private funding can be used towards setting up the infrastructure with adequate transportation and support small competitive producers.

Photo: Let Ideas Compete

For more updates on food insecurity, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)