During the holiday season, we often spend time around large tables of food with friends and family. What we often don’t think about is how others might be doing. Food insecurity is a huge thing all around the world. Many people don’t understand what that really means until they see it firsthand. Food insecurity is the economic and social indicator of the health of a community.
My local YVC has been looking at this in our community. The food insecurity rate where I volunteer is 10.4%, which is way higher than is should be. However, my community’s food insecurity rate has gone down since 2014. In most communities, you aren’t able to tell that the community is food insecure, because it is not something you can just flat out see.
Did you know that many low-income households/communities lack the access to fresh and affordable food? In addition to hunger concerns, this can create health problems. Most households that are food insecure are located in a food desert. A food desert is where at least 1/3 of the population is a mile or more away from a supermarket/form of food. Food deserts could be located right around the corner from you, and you may never know. The common cause of food deserts is a local supermarket closing. Many times these stores close because low-income households can’t afford enough groceries to keep the market open. Once the market closes, they lose their convenient access to food.
Local food banks help meet this community need. They collect food and package it in boxes to send to households located in food deserts. I have seen the amount of people they impact firsthand, through multiple YVC projects. When working with the foodbank, sometimes we sort through food, package food boxes, or even work on the line to package food boxes. Before participating in projects at the foodbank, I never realized the severity of these problems. Just one box of food can provide a family with a weeks’ worth of food. It is crazy to be able to go to the foodbank and make such a big impact on someone’s life, while having a good time packing food and learning where exactly these boxes will be going.
What stands out to me most during these projects is how many volunteers show up to help. Not too many people at the foodbank are paid staff. It is mostly volunteers. They help educate the community and try to decrease the food insecurity rates. You can make a difference in your community just by simply donating non-perishable food to your local foodbank. Donating a few cans or non-perishable items may not seem like a lot, but that little amount will turn into so much for someone who relies on that to live.
Brianna is a rising sophomore at York High School in Yorktown, Virginia. She has been proudly serving with Youth Volunteer Corps in Hampton Roads for four years and has been on the Hampton Roads Youth Advisory Board for three years. Outside of volunteering she enjoys playing sports and hanging out with friends. She plays lacrosse and field hockey. She is excited to be on IYAB this year to make new friends and serve by them!