These statistics are startling … did you know?
- Here in the United States, nearly 38 million people live in food insecure households.
- Of the 38 million, nearly 12 million children in the U.S. are affected.
- Bringing it closer to home, an estimated 14.4% of Georgia’s children are food insecure.
- Here in Hall County, an estimated 10.4% of our residents are food insecure, as well as 10.9% of children.
Although these numbers are a bit lower than the national average, there are still thousands of children and families in our own backyard who do not have enough to eat daily.
According to Feeding America, food insecurity can be defined as “the lack of available financial resources for nutritionally adequate food at the household level.” If this is the case for several households within an area due to a lack of accessible grocery stores, this area could be defined as a food desert.
A food desert is an area in which its inhabitants do not have access to affordable nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Residents of these food deserts will usually shop at corner stores and gas stations, both of which usually have a plethora of unhealthy calorie dense processed food options. As a result, food desert inhabitants often grapple with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and otherwise poor health outcomes.
As you can imagine, if one cannot afford to meet their biological needs or those of their children, it could be tempting to resort to crime in order to do so. Unfortunately, this exacerbates the problem. Store owners often shut down their stores in crime-ridden areas due to the increased cost of running it (ex. security costs in addition to decreased profit) which could worsen or create a nutritious food deficit.
I am food insecure. What help is available to me?
One great resource is the Georgia Mountain Food Bank (GFMB), located at 1642 Calvary Industrial Dr., Gainesville, GA 30507. On their website, select “GET HELP” and the county of residence. There you can find a list of the 70+ pantries and partners GMFB supports who can provide help near you.
GMFB also provides several Mobile Pantries each month in addition to the “Neighborhood Fresh” grocery delivery program, which provides fresh produce to Hall County residents. They meet in convenient locations such as the Autozone parking lot on Browns Bridge Rd. You can email Perla Ibarra for more information.
What can I do to help?
GMFB needs the following:
Because of the pandemic, GMFB has had to resort to buying food to provide for families in need. To be helpful, your donation can be as little as $10, which is enough to provide food for 50 families! Donated money goes much farther than donated goods. To put things in perspective, $1 can provide 5 meals whereas $1 of donated items may only be a can of vegetables or a box of pasta. This is the best way to help them.
- Item donations
GMFB is always in need of shelf stable foods to help supply these hungry families. One rule of thumb for donations is to only donate food that you would eat yourself. Please do not give them food that is expired, open, damaged, or visibly spoiled. You can also help by donating empty egg cartons, as they need the smaller packaging to divide bulk donations amongst several families.
Finally, you can donate “Homeless Care Kits,” which should be a collection of useful items contained within a reusable bag. These kits should contain toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary products, deodorant, tissue), as well as small clothing items (socks, gloves, hats), and snacks.
- Your time
GMFB is always in need of individual and group volunteers. The person to contact is Denise Bernardi at Volunteer@gamountainfoodbank.org. You can volunteer as a sorter in the warehouse or at one of their events.
Calling all health professionals! GMFB occasionally needs YOU to provide participants with basic health checkups at their events.
If you are feeling artsy, you can paint a bowl for next month’s “Empty Bowl” fundraiser on September 20. Tickets are $30 per person which includes a meal and a hand painted bowl. The significance of the bowl is to remind patrons that some amongst us will have empty bowls tonight. There will also be an auction of celebrity painted bowls, including one from Keenan Thompson who is best known from his work in “All That,” “Good Burger,” and “Saturday Night Live.”
As you can see, there are many ways to get involved as well as several resources available to you if you need help. Don’t let food insecurity or the guilt that can accompany it stop you or people you know from living a happy and healthy life!