Challenging misconceptions of food insecurity
A key aspect of being a Hunger Hero is understanding the issues that surround people living with food insecurity. Ozarks Food Harvest is not only dedicated to making sure families facing hunger get the food they need, but also to erasing the stigma and advancing the conversation around food insecurity.
Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions that exist for families working toward food security and a more stable lifestyle. Today, I want to take a moment to explain the reality and provide you with a little bit more information about what it means to be food insecure.
One of the most common misconceptions is that government programs provide plenty of food and people are just looking for a handout. In reality, government programs such as SNAP are designed as a supplement—they are not meant to provide an entire month’s worth of food. Individuals must fulfill certain requirements to receive this assistance. If a parent suddenly loses their job or someone accumulates unexpected medical bills, government programs like SNAP can help them put food on the table, but again, are only meant to supplement their existing food budget.
Another misconception is that a person cannot be food insecure if they are overweight. This may surprise you, but hunger and obesity often co-exist. Limited access to nutritious food items and economic challenges may result in families turning to convenience stores or less healthy options to fill their stomachs.
Many people also believe that only unemployed individuals need food assistance. More often than not in southwest Missouri, at least one member of a food-insecure household works. However, even with a job, many people struggle to pay their bills because of stagnant wages and underemployment. COVID-19 has introduced new factors to this situation, as many people have experienced furloughs or reduced working hours. Our food pantry partners exist to help families make ends meet when the unexpected occurs.
These are just a few of the misconceptions associated with people receiving food assistance, and I hope they help you better understand what food insecurity looks like in southwest Missouri. People who receive food assistance are hardworking and hopeful about their futures, and thanks to donors like you, they can get the help they need to live fuller lives.
Your support has helped provide food for people like Angela, who shared her story with us at a Mobile Food Pantry.
“I’m unemployed and still working on getting unemployment checks going. Every day, the food dwindles down but then we bring it back up. You guys help a lot. This helps us be able to sit down as a family and have dinner,” she shared.
Thanks to generous donors like you, families like Angela’s can sit down and enjoy a meal together this holiday season—and they have hope for a happier new year.