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 (

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 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 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?