Food Insecurity Rising
by kaye McHann
Even amidst so much affluence, The Plateau has its hungry households.
Here we are in the pristine North Carolina mountains surrounded by affluence.
But are we? Did you ever stop to think if your neighbors might not have food for dinner, or they are rationing their food so they have something to eat a few more days?
Defined by the US Department of Agriculture, “Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to have enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum:
• The ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
• Assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).”
For the year 2017 The Economic Research Service reports 15.7 percent of US households were food insecure, eight percent were adults, 7.7 percent were children.
In North Carolina, 17.1 percent of households are food insecure with nearly five percent ranking as very low food secure households.
So, let’s move a little closer to home. Jackson County had a 14.7 percent food insecure rate and Macon County a 12.7 percent food insecure rate in 2017. If you do the math, it totals 10,471 children and adults in our home counties could not meet the above food security requirements!
What can we do? The Friendship Center’s food pantry is housed at Highlands United Methodist Church. From 2016 to 2018, we experienced a 45 percent increase in individuals seeking assistance at the pantry and we estimate serving over 5,500 by the end of 2019. If you’re aware of someone who lives or works in Highlands, Franklin or Cashiers who needs food, please tell them about IFC’s Highlands Pantry. If you want to provide food, visit internationalfriendshipcenter.org and make a donation, or attend the upcoming Empty Bowls event on October 6 from 11:30 to 1:30 at the First Presbyterian Church of Highlands or Fishes and Loaves at The Orchard Event Barn in Cashiers.