Fact vs. Fiction
Aug 4, 2021
By: Erinn Rowe, CEO
When many people imagine what “hunger” looks like, images of starving children in a refugee camp or a family living in slums of another country cross their minds. Faceless people in faraway places whose names we will never know. It’s easy to associate hunger with a generalized “them”—people that we don’t see or hear from every day. It allows us to separate the harmful impacts of hunger from our own lives and our own communities. It allows us to ignore.
In reality though, food insecurity happens right under our noses: in our places of work, in our children’s schools, sometimes even in our own neighborhoods. Hunger isn’t just “them.” It’s us. In separating fact from fiction, and recognizing the hungry people in our own lives, we can start the critical work of building a hopeful and hunger-free tomorrow.
Here are three facts you may not have know about how hunger affects our own neighbors:
Fiction: Hunger is a problem elsewhere but not in South Carolina.
Fact: Here in South Carolina, 1 in 6 of our neighbors are facing hunger each day - over 100,000 are children.
High costs of living and unexpected expenses or circumstances can make it difficult to make ends meet. There are hard-working families in every county of South Carolina that have to make sacrifices to put food on the table. Food insecurity forces our neighbors to have to choose between providing food or paying for utilities, housing, or medications. Sometimes food insecurity leads parents to sacrifice their own meals to ensure there is enough to feed their children. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, no one should have to go to bed hungry. Check out Map the Meal Gap to learn more about hunger in your county.
Fiction: People who face hunger are homeless or unemployed.
Fact: Many households that we serve have at least one part-time or full-time employee supporting the home but have expenses that make it difficult to provide for all of the family’s needs.
Harvest Hope’s emergency food pantries serve thousands of South Carolinians every year, and our average visitor comes to the food pantry just three times before getting back on their feet and regaining self-sufficiency. It is a common misunderstanding that people face hunger because they use drugs, refuse work, or actively make other conscious bad decisions. In reality, most people who face food insecurity never imagined they would be in a place of such need. Situations that may lead to sudden food insecurity or hunger include job loss, unexpected sickness or injury, loss of a primary provider, natural disaster, weakening infrastructure, businesses and banks drawing out of an area, or sudden shutdowns caused by COVID-19. These tragedies can cause anyone to need a little extra help meeting their needs. To learn more about food insecurity, check out Hunger in America, by Feeding America.
Fiction: Food Insecurity mostly happens in big cities.
Fact: People living in rural communities frequently face hunger at higher rates than people living in urban communities (Feeding America).
Rural areas are often in locations considered “food deserts” where there are no healthy food options, or hardly any food options at all. The nearest grocery store or food pantry can be too far away for many rural households, especially when transportation is scarce, and gas is expensive. This means that many families have a difficult time accessing the vital food they need. Harvest Hope provides help to these communities through mobile food pantries, that bring food to local distribution sites in rural areas.
Fiction: Food banks are a primary source of food.
Fact: Most people facing hunger can provide some food for themselves but need help filling the gaps between pay checks or government benefits.
Food banks are only one of the ways hungry communities can find support in times of need. Federal programs such as SNAP also play an important role in helping people gain access to food. Food banks also work to help people that are hungry for such short periods of time that enrollment in a federal program isn’t necessary. You can help us fill the gap by taking action with Feeding America and raising your voice to support the hunger relief programs our food banks and communities need.
Sometimes hunger seems like an issue across the across the ocean, but not here in the United States. Unfortunately, that is just not true. As Harvest Hope marks it’s 40th year, we are committed to continuing to learn and share what we know about hunger so we can shed light on the hardships our communities face, and begin to resolve them.
Join us in getting involved today, or take some time to listen to stories from families in other parts of the United States who face hunger on Feeding America’s Real Stories of Hunger series.