In a world of abundance, hunger still exists, and unfortunately, the solution is rarely as simple as just getting a job. It’s not something we can suggest to a helpless little child, to a person physically incapable of working, to a war-torn family, to a struggling, underemployed single parent, nor to a parent who’s lost a job due to the COVID pandemic. Hunger is a global issue. Our community is no exception.
“It’s been a tough year for a lot of Utahns, and many of our neighbors continue to struggle to afford enough food”, said Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns Against Hunger. She reports that food insecurity doubled from February of 2020, when one in 12 households experienced food shortages, to one in five families by June of 2020.
Certainly, the coronavirus has temporarily disrupted the entire economy, but many Utahns experience hunger on a long-term basis.
Recognizing the urgency of dealing with this issue, local nonprofit organizations are collaborating to address hunger in a meaningful way to bring about lasting change. Ogden CAN’s food security steering committee and the United Partnership Council, sponsored by United Way of Northern Utah, focus specifically on assessing Food Security in the eastern central neighborhood of Ogden City.
Research and initiatives undertaken by United Partnership Council and the food security steering committee will improve access, preparation, and consumption of nutritious foods of choice for all Weber County residents and beyond, according to Emily Esplin, Network Facilitator at United Way of Northern Utah.
“Changes are not occurring overnight, but persistence will make a lasting difference,” she said.
So what is being done to create food security? Six interventions amount to a comprehensive approach to this challenge.
- Socio-Cultural Factors.
Randy Chappell, director of the Joyce Hansen Hall Food
Bank, reports that, while food donations help feed the needy, high-protein foods would improve the quality of nutrition. Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah provides supplemental help for school children through its Bridging the Gap program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children) can help people in need. The affordability initiative addresses ways to help improve household income, living standards, and housing costs, so that families can more easily afford nutritious food. Local government programs can also prioritize job creation and plan accessible transportation.
So, how can we support this effort? We can donate to the agencies working hard to reach the food security goal, including United Way of Northern Utah, Catholic Community Services, and local food banks. We can donate high-protein, nutritious foods to the food bank. We can volunteer our time. We can support public policies that lead to this objective. We can educate ourselves about food security issues and solutions by visiting 211Utah.org. No matter how we choose to help, we can make a difference and improve food security in our community.