Food Insecurity, The Impact of an Insecure Food System

1 in 6 Americans Face Hunger

Image is from the film "A Place at the Table"

One in six Americans are considered food insecure. A simple definition of food insecurity is when a household does not know where its next meal is coming from. However, by using this simple definition it can mask the deeper issues America is facing. The World Health Organization breaks food insecurity into three facets: food availability, food access, and food use. Although the amount of food produced around the world is enough to feed the planet, the issue of getting the food to those who need it isn't so simple. There is also no simple answer to the question "where is the food going if it is so abundant". One of the biggest issues the food system faces is that of Food Loss or Food Waste.

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Food Loss and Waste

Forty percent of food produced in the U.S. is never even consumed, and this simply doesn't make sense. This waste of food makes no sense economically, environmentally or ethically. Getting food to our table eats up fifty percent of U.S. Land, ten percent of the total U.S. Energy Budget, and it swallows eighty percent of the Fresh Water in the U.S.

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Resources Used

The forty percent of wasted food costs us:

  • • $165 Billion per year
  • • Twenty five percent of US water use
  • • Fifteen percent of US methane production
  • • Four percent of US oil consumption

Where in the Food System is Food Loss Occurring

These losses occur in every step of the food system from the loss on the farm to the loss from consumers.

Learn more about food waste, where it is happening, and what you can do.

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Food Access

Food Desert Map - No Car and No Supermarket within a mile.Issues with access to food isn't simply restricted to financial difficulties. In addition to household income, food access is typically impacted by social service availability, location of residence, and conditions that restrict direct access to food.

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Food Availability

WaterIssues with food availability typically happen when problems occur in the supply chain, either in production or distribution. The issues that come up can be very complex issues such as climate change, water availability, natural disasters, quality of seed, disease, pests, contamination, to name a few.

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Food Use

Food Use Image of veggetablesFood utilization or food use is an important factor to consider in food security issues. The quality of food, the nutritional value of the food, food preparation, sanitation, and storage. One important aspect of food security is meeting dietary needs enough to sustain an active and healthy life.