Food insecurity is a battle in Gainesville

Apr 11, 2019

There is an enormous number of Gainesville citizens struggling with food insecurity, The Alligator reported. Food insecurity is one of those issues many people hear about in passing or read about occasionally, but it never seems to receive the attention it deserves. Food insecurity is a devastating issue in our community and it deserves more attention. The people who help combat food insecurity deserve more praise and support.

Food insecurity, as Kelly Hayes summarized in her article, is “an experience where individuals or households don’t have access to healthy, affordable food.” She explains food insecurity usually results from “food deserts.” These are areas far from grocery stores with low-income residents. The stores in these areas may provide some sort of food, but not any with substantial sustenance.

The need for food is primal, meaning it is impossible to function without it. No one deserves to go hungry. Furthermore, people trying to escape situations that cause food insecurity need nutritious meals to have the energy to work toward a better, more stable life. It is the American dream to be able to work your way up the social and economic chain to a more comfortable lifestyle. Issues such as food insecurity and hunger prevent hardworking and inspired individuals from accomplishing their aspirations and dreams. I understand that issues such as hunger and homelessness will likely never be totally resolved everywhere on Earth. However, that does not mean we should become complacent or desensitized to these issues. Rather, the persistence of these problems should further motivate us to fight these issues and minimize their impact as much as possible, starting with our Gainesville community.

Hayes’ article highlighted an important solution to food insecurity, which is to encourage the stores in these food deserts to sell more nutritious and filling foods. I was encouraged and pleased to read that a master’s student at UF, Vanessa Berthoumieux, researched food insecurity and helped establish this plan to combat it. I find many people my age are oblivious to or not worried about major issues, such as food insecurity. I have fallen prey to ignorance or a lack of concern in the past because I am caught up in school, work and other social issues. However, I think more young people should invest their time and energy into supporting local food pantries and spreading the word about food insecurity. As future leaders, we need to prioritize social and economic issues, such as food insecurity, at an early age so that we can study these issues and effect changes to combat them immediately.

UF’s Field and Fork Pantry provides food insecure students and staff healthy foods to combat malnutrition and hunger on campus.

These organizations, and other local organizations like Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, deserve more appreciation and credit for the generous work they do for our community. These organizations are providing Gainesville with food security, something that is a fundamental need for success. Their causes help people attain security, not just in food, but also in their lives. When our community doesn’t have to worry where its next meal will come from, it is able to work toward a better future, and therefore a better Gainesville.

Chasity Maynard is a UF journalism freshman. Her column appears on Fridays.