Food Secure Holiday

— Written By and last updated by

With Christmas quickly approaching, many of us are trying to finalize gifts we planned to purchase for our loved ones, planning holiday vacations, or preparing for the new year. In addition to these things, families are also coming together to discuss what Christmas dinner will consist of. Unfortunately, during the holiday season many families experience greater food insecurity. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), food insecurity is defined as the “disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “over the past 2 decades, the prevalence of food insecurity in U.S. households remained above 10 percent.” This fact came with the claim that from 2005 through 2025 the rate would increase by 75 percent. There are numerous socioeconomic factors that contribute to food insecurity such as unemployment, stagnant wages, residing in a food desert, and increased cost of living.

According to the County Health Rankings for Robeson County, it is estimated that 30,560 individuals struggle with food insecurity – this represents 23 percent of our county’s population. To add to that, an article posted in the newspaper last year stated that, “more than 70 percent of children in Robeson County were living below the poverty level.”  As a result, the risk of food insecurity increases.

In relation to overall health, food insecurity is connected to diminished physical and mental health. One organization suggests food insecurity can lead to Type 2 diabetes, increased health care cost due to limitations in healthy food selection, and cause children to be in poor health and struggle in school. In spite of the data surrounding food insecurity, it is important that we become more knowledgeable about food insecurity and utilize our local resources to assist with learning to manage food resources.

As part of the Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), food resource management is one of many topics touched on heavily throughout the nutrition series. Participants have an opportunity to share and discuss issues concerning lack of food resources and, in turn, learn various tips and ideas to help them make better choices in food purchasing. Participants also learn about reading and interpreting price labels to determine the best buy, how to utilize coupons to maximize savings at the grocery store, how to properly read nutrition labels, and most importantly, how nutrition effects overall health in the long term. Many participants have expressed how learning these different tools has helped them cut grocery expenses, increase their food dollars, and make purchasing decisions that allow them to better manage their food resources throughout the month.

For more information on food insecurity or EFNEP classes, contact Ashley McRae, Extension Adult Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by email at Ashley_McRae@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University are collectively committed to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and veteran status. NC State University, N.C. A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.