Food insecurity is often difficult to detect in communities. The United States is considered an affluent country, yet every community in the country is home to people who struggle with it.
A household that is food insecure has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life, according to Feeding America.
Whether a person qualifies for federal nutritional programs or not, local food banks, such as Lebanon County Christian Ministries, often fill in the gaps.
Here are 5 myths about food insecurity in Lebanon County.
Myth No. 1: Hunger is something that happens somewhere else – not Lebanon County.
FACT: The food insecurity rate in Lebanon County is 9.1 percent – that’s 12,480 food-insecure individuals, according to Feeding America. Of those individuals, 4,720 are children. According to the United Way ALICE report, 37 percent of households in Lebanon County struggle to make ends meet due to high housing costs, costs associated with food, child care, utilities, transportation and unexpected expenses. That means a substantially higher number of people have or may have to utilize a food bank’s services.
Myth No. 2
People who face food insecurity in Lebanon County are typically unemployed, homeless, or both.
FACT: The vast majority of people served by Lebanon County Christian Ministries are not homeless and half have at least one adult per household who works full-time. In Pennsylvania, 59 percent of jobs pay less than $20 per hour, with more than half of those paying less than $15 per hour, according to the United Way ALICE report. A household with two adults, an infant and a preschooler needs to make $30.14 an hour just to afford bare essentials each month.
Myth No. 3:
People who need supplemental food assistance are not budgeting their money wisely.
FACT: The United Way ALICE report found that a family of 4 – including two adults, a preschooler and an infant – would need to spend a minimum of $604 per month on groceries for just bare essentials. The food budget is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Thrifty Food Plan, which is also the basis for benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Myth No. 4
The LCCM food pantry only provides pre-packaged canned goods.
Guests who utilize the food pantry at LCCM receive a supply of food that will last for about two weeks. While much of the food is pre-packaged, the pantry also provides fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, frozen meat and baked goods. Additionally, the pantry provides personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, deodorant, toothpaste and more.
Myth No. 5:
There’s nothing I can do to help people who are struggling with food insecurity.
Your generous donations to Lebanon County Christian Ministries helped us distribute more than 400,000 pounds of food and provide 47,180 free noon meals. LCCM receives some state funding and also works with major manufacturers and retailers to secure food to distribute to residents of Lebanon County. This means that when you donate a dollar, you’re able to put more meals on the tables for families than if you had paid full retail price for items you'd purchased at the store.