The majority of households in Louisiana do have access to healthy
foods, but for those that don’t, they face a hurdle called food
insecurity. According to the Feeding America website
(feedingamerica.org), food insecurity refers to the lack of access to
acquire enough food for an active healthy life for all household members
and limited or uncertain availability of nutritious foods. Food
insecurity is a direct symptom of socioeconomic factors such as limited
income, lack of food retailers, and proximity to food sources. People
that are food insecure often worry where their next meal will come from.
They also tend to feel anxiety on how to acquire food. Food insecurity
can lead to negative health behaviors such as undereating to conserve
food, overeating out of fear of facing hunger, or even complete loss of
appetite due to fear of running out of money.
In 2019, six northeast region parishes occupied space in the top 10
parishes with the highest food insecurity rates among children according
to Feeding America’s website. It was projected that in 2021 Louisiana
would rank third in states with highest overall food insecurity rates.
In this same report, it was projected that Louisiana would rank first in
terms of childhood insecurity rates. Food insecurity is detrimental to
physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of people so this obstacle
paired with the world rapidly shifting due to the pandemic is a massive
stressor to a large population of Louisianians, especially in rural
areas which are often labeled as “food deserts."
Ultimately, food insecurity is a barrier to health that can be
shifted with communities focused on public health. Because there are so
many factors that contribute to this barrier, it will take some time and
effort to make sufficient changes here in Louisiana. Changes such as
the acceptance of SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets or a healthy
checkout in a grocery store are mighty additions to a community that can
change someone’s life for the better! While we rally and work together
across parish lines to make long-term, sustainable change in our state,
here are some ways you can help those in your community that may face
1. Volunteer at your local food pantry – Most pantries are run by small groups of volunteers. Spend some time supporting others by helping at distributions or helping to pack boxes. Sharing your time can be a huge benefit to others.
2. Make a donation – Take on-perishable foods, funds, or whatever you would like to give to your local shelter, faith-based organization, or just someone who needs it. Build a monthly donation box with your family or friends to give to someone in need.
3. Educate yourself – Get to know what food insecurity in your community looks like. By arming yourself with knowledge specific to your area, you can become an advocate for change! Check out CountyHealthRankings.com or similar websites for data.
You can also join your local Healthy Communities Coalition as they
work to make changes in the community to make it easier for everyone to
make the healthy choice! Contact your local AgCenter for additional