by Karen Sadler
Food insecurity isn’t just a developing world problem –it exists everywhere. It is, loosely defined, behavior driven by the fear that there will not be enough. In the US, it is a mother with little money, diluting her baby’s formula with extra water to make it last longer. It is the elderly man, living alone on a fixed income, cutting the mold from his expired cheese, and hoping the center is still edible.
In other parts of the world, food insecurity is an enduring reality. It drives the subsistence farmer to plant a less nutritious starchy crop. He likely knows it has little protein and fewer vitamins than other crops he could plant, but this one is hardier in times of drought and at least will be there to fill his children’s bellies.
Food insecurity, like poverty in general, makes it hard to be forward-thinking, efficient, economical. Cooking oil may be much cheaper purchased by the gallon, but if the price of a gallon is not in the pocket of a poor mother on shopping day, she will settle for the tiny packet that she can afford. Many of these small, inefficient, necessary choices made day after day render it almost impossible to save, to jump out of the long, deep hole that is poverty.
The world can produce enough food to nourish its almost 7 billion inhabitants, but failed systems, politics, corruption and misguided efforts prevent its fair and even distribution. Maybe, one day these issues will be solved, but, until then, we rely on emergency food aid and supplemental food programs. We try to improve the diets of the poor and malnourished one packet, one person, one meal at a time. After all, there is no tomorrow unless we can get through today.