Food Insecurity in Wayne and Union Counties

For those of us who don’t struggle to put food on the table or always know where our next meal is coming from, food insecurity in Wayne and Union Counties doesn’t seem like a problem.   

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When you have the resources to make grocery trips every couple of weeks. It’s hard to understand how people are food insecure. There are grocery stores around every corner, right?  

Food insecurity goes much deeper than finding a local grocery store. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle. Access to food does not mean they cannot physically obtain food; instead, food insecurity is the result of a lack of financial resources. Families who live above the poverty line can also struggle with food insecurity. Read on to learn more about how food insecurity affects Wayne and Union counties residents. 

Effects of Food Insecurity on Children 

We know that raising children isn’t easy. For instance, parents have a lot on their hands between getting to school on time, parent-teacher conferences, and homework. Moreover, for families who struggle with food insecurity, their stress levels go far past being late to school.   

Food insecurity is a significant threat to children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. For families struggling with food insecurity, according to the American Psychological Association, children face many risks, including poor nutritional health or malnutrition, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder. According to the same article, “these concerns early in life increase children’s risk of poor school readiness, poor school performance and subsequent health disparities and poverty. Research among school-age children has found associations between household food insecurity and low scores on measures of health, behavioral functioning and academic performance”.  

However, the threat of food insecurity is not just something facing children and families in other states; it is happening right here in Indiana. As of the most recent data by Feeding America, there are more than 834,000 hungry people in Indiana. Additionally, of that number, 239,000 of them are children.   

Looking closer, food insecurity in Wayne and Union counties is a problem. According to Gleaners, in Wayne County, 10,930 people are food insecure, 3,270 of them being children. Similarly, in Union County, 860 people are food insecure, 180 of them being children. These numbers paint a bleak picture. In short food, insecurity is prevalent even in smaller communities.

A Different Type of Food Insecurity-Food Deserts 

Food insecurity is a complex problem, and there are factors that you might not consider. One key factor is the role of food deserts. A food desert is a place where residents’ access to healthy and affordable food is restricted due to the absence of grocery stores within a convenient distance.  Locally, when Marsh on South 13th closed, the South side of Richmond was considered a food desert.  Additionally, the North End is considered a food desert. Though Dollar General has opened in the area they do not always have healthy food options available. 

For instance, families who do not have reliable transportation getting to and from the grocery store can be difficult. For families dealing with food insecurity, lack of transportation is an added barrier to obtaining food.   

When it comes to food deserts they are more prominent than you might think. Families who lack reliable transportation, the elderly who can only travel small distances, the physically disabled who are homebound, and immune-compromised individuals are all vulnerable groups. For all of these groups, living miles away from the closest grocery store threatens their ability to obtain healthy food. Luckily for families and individuals dealing with food insecurity in Wayne and Union counties, multiple organizations are working to help ease the burden of food insecurity. 

Photo Credit: Canva

Combating Food Insecurity 

In Wayne and Union counties, multiple organizations are working to combat food insecurity, and we are proud to have some of them as our program partners! If you are passionate about supporting individuals in Wayne and Union counties, your support can make a difference. At United Way Whitewater Valley, we leverage resources from grants and donations to support local organizations making a difference in the community. Help us support the most vulnerable residents of Wayne and Union counties by donating today!  

If you are or someone you know needs help achieving food security, get into contact with the following organizations. 

Learn More About United Way Whitewater Valley 

We hope that you learned something about food insecurity in Wayne and Union counties and can join us in our fight for the health, education and financial security of everyone in Wayne and Union counties. There is a lot of work to be done which means we need your help to make positive change in our community.   

Get to know more about our program partners working in our four focus areas: childhood success, youth success, economic mobility, and access to health. Read more about their stories here, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do at United Way of Whitewater Valley.