Wanted: Food Security

As global population increases, so does the demand for nutritious food. Current projections indicate that 60 percent more food will be needed by 2050 to feed the worldwide populace [1]. That, in combination with annual decreases in crop yields such as rice and wheat, raises serious concerns regarding our future’s food security. But what about current food security?

Current estimates from data collected around the world, indicate that roughly one billion people worldwide suffer from food insecurity [1]. Calculations also suggest that 12 percent of the world’s population is undernourished while 29 percent have a micronutrient deficiency. This is in contrast with statistics gathered about worldwide food production that states roughly one-third of the food produced is thrown out or wasted on an annual basis. So, if the volume of food  produced is not the cause of food insecurity, then what is?

This question is a complex socio-economic query. It is approximated that out of the 868 million undernourished people, 98 percent of them do not live in high-income countries [1]. This means that income, in combination with social standing, play extremely important roles in the struggle for food access.

 Although the United States is considered a high-income country, hunger still plays a large part in many of its citizens’ lives. Forty million people living in the U.S. do not have consistent access to nutritious food, of which 12 million  are children [2].  To combat this, federal food assistance programs  such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the National School Lunch Program have been established, but these programs don’t always do enough.

At Western Washington University, measures are being taken to ensure that all students are able to receive food when in need. WWU has recently opened up two food pantries found in different locations on its campus. These food pantries were created in a collaborative effort between Western faculty members and student leaders. Both pantries that are currently up and running provide students with food or prepackaged kits on a “no questions asked” basis;  students do not have to prove financial need in order to receive sustenance from the pantries.

To combat food security in the future, the pantry hopes to receive increased support from university administration to provide a larger space, located centrally on WWU’s campus to supply students with food. They also have a goal to expand future available resources to students such as clothing and toiletries.

Food insecurity is a problem that will only continue to exist as populations grow and crop yields decline. It is important that measures are taken today to prevent hunger in order to solve future issues regarding food security.

[1] https://ccafs.cgiar.org/bigfacts/#theme=food-security

[2] https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/facts

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