Food Security

Definition: The USDA defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Hunger and food insecurity are closely related, but distinct, concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household (Feeding America). A food desert is an urban area where there is little availability of affordable, good-quality fresh foods (americannutritionassociation.org).

Why is this issue important?

  • At least 1 in 4 children in North Carolina are food insecure (NC Food Banks).
  • In 2015, a Gallup poll ranked the Greensboro-High Point metropolitan area as the hungriest in the nation (WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio).
  • 815 million people – 1 in 9 – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night (World Food Programme).
  • If female farmers had the same resources as their male counterparts, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million (Freedom from Hunger).
  • Severe hunger has been linked to depression and anxiety, all of which impede a child’s education (American Psychological Association).

Opportunities for Involvement

Rise Against Hunger

An organization doing international hunger relief comes to campus for a volunteer opportunity to pack nearly 40,000 meals with other students on a Saturday morning in September. Email ckeu@elon.edu for more information.

Salvation Army

A food pantry for the hungry in our area. Students working here make food bags, stock shelves and take in and make deliveries. Email salvationarmy@elon.edu for more information.

Allied Churches

A local shelter, food pantry, and kitchen working to meet basic needs of the lonely, hungry and homeless while challenging and empowering them to become self-sufficient. Email alliedchurches@elon.edu for more information.

Campus Kitchen

Student-run organization that cooks nearly 200 meals each Tuesday, delivers meals to seniors and the homeless in our county, and farms on Sundays. Email ckeu@elon.edu for more information.

Sampling Of Elon Courses Related To This Issue

For more information on these courses listed, view the Elon Course Catalog.

  • Core 430: Food and the Environment
  • Environmental Science 311: Sustainable Food Production
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 204: Edible Ideologies – Food, Power, and Identity
  • Environmental Science 120: Community Agriculture: Fall Harvest
  • Policy Studies 320: Food Policy
  • Poverty and Social Justice 110: Introduction to Poverty Studies
  • Sociology 220: Social Issues and Problems in the Local Community
  • Wellness and Health Education 111: Contemporary Wellness Issues

Questions for Reflection

  • How can you use the knowledge and skills you are gaining in college to address food insecurity?
  • How do you think food insecurity is related to equity or social values?
  • Whose voice is missing in the conversation around food insecurity?
  • What current systems maintain the problem of food insecurity and how can they be addressed?
  • Does food insecurity exist on Elon’s campus?
  • How does food insecurity tie into food waste?
  • Who controls food distribution in this country or determines who it goes to?
  • What systems are in place to help alleviate food insecurity in the U.S. and why are they not successful?
  • Alamance County is a food desert. What are your reactions to this?
  • How does food insecurity impact the agricultural industry?
  • Is access to healthy and sustainably-produced foods a privilege? Should it be?