The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Special Report Food Security

What are the myths?

Food- and hunger-related inaccuracies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and hunger-relief charity Feeding America work to steer the conversation to reality with clarifications such as these.

“Food insecurity” is a politically correct way of saying “hunger.”

Not exactly. Food insecurity is the lack of social or economic access to sufficient, nutritious food. A food-insecure person is likelier to be hungry, however.

People who receive assistance are lazy or abuse the system.

According to the USDA, children, seniors and those with disabilities constitute the majority of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known to many as food stamps) recipients.

Seventy-five percent of able-bodied participants had a job the year before or after receiving benefits. The average size of a participating household is 2.2 people, typically a mother and one or two children.

Producing more food would solve the problem.

More than enough food is produced to feed everyone on Earth, but the issue is access, not production. In addition to reducing waste, solutions lie in jobs that pay a living wage, affordable health care and incentives for local food production that help communities thrive, experts say.

Overweight or obese people can’t be food insecure.

When a low-income person is overweight, many assume he makes poor diet choices. But any number of barriers — a lack of transportation, the rising cost of healthful food or proliferating fast-food chains in the absence of other options — make obesity collateral damage.

Food insecurity exists mainly in inner cities.

In fact, the opposite is true. People living in rural communities or on farms are more likely to be food-insecure, despite the fact that these areas feed the rest of the population. Rural areas claim more low-wage industries and greater unemployment and underemployment. Transportation and affordable child care also are typically less available.

It’s somebody else’s problem.

Everybody gains when a safety net exists. Consider this scenario: A food-insecure child is more likely to struggle in school and, thus, more likely to drop out. Without an education, he can’t compete for a job. If he can’t provide for himself, he might turn to crime. He lacks sufficient health insurance, but his risk for chronic disease is high and his resilience is low. He’s not contributing. He’s perpetuating the very cycle that set him up to fail.

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