Brain Injury Awareness

By Lori Hayes

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

My topics of choice for this month were brain injury awareness and food insecurity.  I REALLY wanted to choose brain injury awareness because as a neuroscience/Neuro-Oncology nurse, the brain has been my area of specialty and passion for almost 30 years. Instead, I decided to challenge myself to learn and so I chose food insecurity. 


According to the USDA, “food insecurity is the lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life (1). It’s been shown that 10.2 percent (13.5 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2021 which means that 33.8 million people lived in food-insecure households (2).  THINK about that number again-33.9 million people- that’s equivalent to 23 of the most populated cities in the US or ALL of Texas and part of Florida.   This wasn’t just because of the pandemic, because in non-pandemic times, households with children were 1.5 times more likely to experience food insecurity. (3)


Aren’t Hunger & food Insecurity the same thing?  THEY ARE NOT 

According to FeedingAmerica.org (1,4)

  • Food insecurity is the consistent lack of food to have a healthy life because of your economic situation 
  • Hunger is the feeling someone has when they don't have food.
    This can be a symptom of food insecurity but is not the same as food insecurity.

What are some of the Causes for Food Insecurity? It is a multi-faceted issue and some factors include: (4)

  • Income/Employment-
    • Unemployment, lay-offs, an unexpected car repair, a car accident or work injury can have detrimental effects (4) 
  • race/ethnicity
    • In 2020, Black non-Hispanic households were over 2 times more likely to be food insecure than the national average (21.7 percent versus 10.5 percent, respectively). (1)
    • Among Hispanic households, the prevalence of food insecurity was 17.2 percent compared to the national average of 10.5 percent.(1)   
  • Lack of transportation- 
    • Food insecurity can lead to difficult decisions like choosing between food and rent, bills, and transportation
    • Does your location have public transportation
  • Location
    • people living in some urban areas, rural areas, and low-income neighborhoods may have limited access to full-service supermarkets or grocery stores (2) 
    • How far away is the grocery store vs the gas station that carries “some” groceries
  • Lack of affordable housing
    • According to Corelogic, home prices increased by 10.1% from October 2021 to October 2022 (5)
    • In the first half of 2022, the average percentage change in rent was 12.2% for new tenants and 3.5% for same tenants (6)
  • Chronic health conditions or lack of access to healthcare
    • Food insecurity can cause serious health issues when people have to choose between spending money on food and medicine or healthcare
    • Food-insecure children may also be at an increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes, including obesity.(7, 8, 9) They also face a higher risk of developmental problems compared with food-secure children.(9, 10)
    • a study found that food-insecure adults may be at an increased risk for obesity.(11,12) Another study found higher rates of chronic disease in low-income, food-insecure adults between the ages of 18 years and 65 years.(12) 

What does Food Insecurity “look like”? (1)

  • Households with children headed by a single woman (8.0 percent). 
  • Women living alone (6.0 percent) and men living alone (5.9 percent).
  • Households with reference persons who are Black, non-Hispanic (7.9 percent) and Hispanic (5.5 percent).
  • Households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line (10.2 percent)
  • Households located in principal cities (4.6 percent).

What can be done about food insecurity?

Poverty USA (13) has some suggestions to offer:

  • Systemic Changes:
    • Continue modernizing SNAP programs
    • Reduce food waste
    • Offer free lunch programs for all 
  • Community
    • Volunteer 
    • Contact your representatives
    • Donate

These are only a few of the things we can do to help our fellow brothers and sisters. I don’t know about you- but I look at the “systemic” issues and think- I don’t even know where to begin or the system is too complex. BUT, then I remember, Food insecurity is a REAL PROBLEM. It affects MILLIONS of people.  There is no test, there aren’t outward signs to alert us that people are in need, you can’t LOOK at someone and say- ohhhh “there’s one”. 


So, where can an “ordinary person” start? 

  • Learn and Reach out:   I may not know how to navigate the ‘systemic” options but there ARE people who do. If you become involved, or do some research (google it) there are so many places looking for volunteers and learners. 
  • Volunteer and Donate. There are so many food pantries, local church or community pantries that could use your help. In addition, many neighborhoods start “little free libraries" and some add on an “open pantry” concept where people can place food items for people to grab and go.    
  • One of the things I’ve done is start gardening and offering my extras to neighbors. I announce in my neighborhood chat that I have extras and I leave them near the bus stop in front of my house for anyone to help themselves. 

REFERENCES/CITATIONS

    1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. (n.d.). Key statistics & graphics. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx 
    2. US Department of Health & Human Services- Healthy People 2030 Food Insecurity  https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health/literature-summaries/food-insecurity 
    3. Food Insecurity in the US by the Numbers- NPR Report September 27,2020 https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/912486921/food-insecurity-in-the-u-s-by-the-numbers 
    4. Feeding America Organization  Hunger and Food Insecurity
    5. US Home Price Insights-December 2022, December 6, 2022 CoreLogic   https://www.corelogic.com/intelligence/u-s-home-price-insights-december-2022/#:~:text=Home%20prices%20nationwide%2C%20including%20distressed,2022%20compared%20with%20October%202021 
    6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spotlight on Statistics https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2022/housing-leases-in-the-u-s-rental-market/home.htm#:~:text=Rent%20increases%20were%20more%20pronounced%20for%20new%20tenants&text=In%20the%20first%20half%20of,in%20the%20last%206%20months 
    7. Gundersen, C., & Kreider, B. (2009). Bounding the effects of food insecurity on children’s health outcomes. Journal of Health Economics, 28(5), 971–983. 
    8. Metallinos-Katsaras, E., Must, A., & Gorman, K. (2012). A longitudinal study of food insecurity on obesity in preschool children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(12), 1949–1958.
    9. Cook, J. T., & Frank, D. A. (2008). Food security, poverty, and human development in the United States. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1136(1), 193–209 
    10. Cook, J. T. (2013, April). Impacts of child food insecurity and hunger on health and development in children: Implications of measurement approach. In Paper commissioned for the Workshop on Research Gaps and Opportunities on the Causes and Consequences of Child Hunger.
    11. Hernandez, D. C., Reesor, L. M., & Murillo, R. (2017). Food insecurity and adult overweight/obesity: Gender and race/ethnic disparities. Appetite, 117, 373–378.
    12. Gregory, C. A., & Coleman-Jensen, A. (n.d.). Food insecurity, chronic disease, and health among working-age adults. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/pub-details/?pubid=84466
    13. What Causes Food Insecurity and what are the solutions to it?  Poverty USA https://www.povertyusa.org/stories/what-causes-food-insecurity-and-what-are-solutions-it 

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