Social justice issues in America: Food insecurity

February 4, 2021

Hunger and food insecurity in communities across America is a problem most people are aware exists but some have never experienced it. Food insecurity is defined as a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. According to Feeding America, 1 of 9 people struggle with hunger.(1)

Fighting hunger is more than just providing food, we must look at the root problem of hunger. Hunger is the result of poverty which overly affects people of color at higher rates. Why? Poverty is created by the discriminatory barriers and laws that result in generations of inequities, thus qualifying hunger, food insecurity and poverty as a social justice and essential issue that must be addressed.

Food insecurity is a persistent, stubborn issue for many families and has gotten worse with the pandemic as so many in America are unemployed. Many families struggle just to put food on the table. Feeding America provides these statistics to help us put it in all perspective:

• Due to the pandemic, more than 50 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020 including a potential 17 million children.
• In 2018, 14.3 million American households were food insecure with limited or uncertain access to enough food.
• Every community in the country is home to families who struggle with food insecurity, including rural and suburban communities.
• Many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and need to rely on their local food banks and other hunger relief organizations.

Are we as moved as we should be by hunger, food insecurity and the long lines at food banks, not only in our local communities but throughout the world? Matthew 14 records a time when Jesus was moved with compassion. Jesus had taken a boat to the vicinity of Bethsaida. The crowds heard that Jesus was nearby and they began to follow Him on foot. Jesus saw the large crowd and “…had compassion on them…” As evening approached, the disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away so they can find something to eat. Jesus told the disciples they should feed them. But the disciples answered: “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.” (v. 17) Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and fed the multitude. This miracle of Jesus resonates the profound need for compassion of people today. As a church, we should be feeding the hungry, whether that hunger is a hunger for food, the Word of God, empowerment, healthcare, etc.

Being hungry can be a lonely place. Through ingenuity, commitment, awareness, and compassion, together we can address this public health crisis. There are organizations such as Feeding America, Hunger Task Force, UMOS Food Pantry, Metcalfe Park, Capuchin Community Services, COA Goldin Center, and other local food pantries where you can support with food or financial donations.

Jesus said:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:35-40

(1) Source: Feeding America at

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