Wondering what “food security” is?  Here’s a quick primer, including ways you can help. Hint: support Each Green Corner and other organizations addressing this issue!

The Definition

Food Se·cu·ri·ty (noun)

The state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Oxford Languages

But what in practice does that mean, and when does food security become food insecurity?  Let’s think about that definition in terms of its parts.

In order to be food secure, a person needs to:

  1. Have access
  2. That is reliable
  3. to a sufficient quantity (by caloric standards per person)
  4. of affordable food (aka financial considerations aren’t a barrier to access)
  5. that is also nutritious.

 If any of those factors are not met, a person is food insecure.  

Is all Food Insecurity the Same?

The effects on a family who is affected by just one factor is understandably different than a family who is affected by all five.  To address this, a person’s level of insecurity can be measured using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.  Pictured below, the FIES describes mild to severe food insecurity.  

Moderate levels of food insecurity are common everywhere and have major lasting consequences for both the affected individuals’ health and the well-being of the community they live in.  As the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations describes, someone who is food insecure “might have access to food to meet their energy requirements, yet are uncertain that [their access] will last, or they may be forced to reduce the quality and/or quantity of the food they eat in order to get by. This moderate level of food insecurity can contribute to various forms of malnutrition and can have serious consequences for health and well-being.”

How Can I Help?

Educate yourself on food insecurity in your community, and what organizations are working to effect change.  Here in the Bay Area, the food banks are comprehensive powerhouses addressing not just food distribution, but also nutrition and health for vulnerable populations.  Donating to food banks like Second Harvest of Silicon Valley immediately provides food to those in need.  

Consider volunteering with or donating to Each Green Corner to increase the pipeline of fresh, sustainably-raised produce available to those experiencing food insecurity in our community. By equipping our community with the skills, knowledge, space and materials to grow their own food or food for others, we are working together to create free, lasting access to fresh produce for those in need – thereby directly addressing the root causes of food insecurity. 


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