By Shannon Bullen, 2020 - 2021 ONT AmeriCorps VISTA Member
What is Hunger Action Month?
Every September, the nation comes together to stand against hunger during what is known as Hunger Action Month. Originally implemented by Feeding America, Hunger Action Month is now celebrated by food banks and other food assistance organizations across the country to help spread awareness around the issues of food insecurity and hunger.
There are many different ways to take action this month (read about some here!), but one of the most important ways to take action is by educating yourself. You can use this post as a starting point in raising your awareness on hunger and food insecurity, including the list of recommended books, documentaries, and trainings. Please also consider joining ONT for “Lunch & Learn: Food Insecurity 101” via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 30 from 12pm – 1pm. Can't make it on Thursday? RSVP for the training and we'll email the recording to you.
Hunger and Food Insecurity
In 2006 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report [i] included their definitions of Food Insecurity and Hunger:
“Extensive research reveals food insecurity is a complex problem. Many people do not have the resources to meet their basic needs, challenges which increase a family’s risk of food insecurity. Though food insecurity is closely related to poverty, not all people living below the poverty line experience food insecurity and people living above the poverty line can experience food insecurity.”[ii]
Hunger in the US, Massachusetts, and Your Community
Feeding America conducted the Annual Map the Meal Gap study in 2019. This interactive map allows you to see food insecurity in the United States and you can search my state, county, or food bank. Although you cannot find Our Neighbors’ Table in the search function, you can search our partner, Greater Boston Food Bank, and Essex County will be included. According to this study, there were over 500,000 food insecure people in Massachusetts in 2019. The pandemic has caused even more families to struggle. The Greater Boston Food Bank released a state-wide study that revealed that food insecurity in MA increased by 55% from 2019 to 2020.[iii] Feeding America estimates that 42 million people in the country may be food insecure due to the pandemic.[iv]
In 2020, Our Neighbors’ Table put more than 1.1 million meals on the tables of more than 5,000 neighbors.” Since 2019, ONT has served 1,615 more neighbors. You can read more about ONT’s fight for food security in our Annual Report.
If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, please direct them here if there are within in our 12 communities or here if they are not. If you would like to join the efforts to create a food secure region, please read the different ways to take action here.
Recommendations to Further Your Education
[i] US Department of Agriculture, (2019). Definitions of Food Security.
[ii] Hunger + Health and Feeding America, (2021). What is Food Insecurity?
[iii] Greater Boston Food Bank, (2021). Gaps in Food Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Massachusetts.
[iv] Feeding America, (2021). Hunger Action Month.