There are people all around the world who go hungry every day. Even though it may not seem like it to some, there are actually many, many people here in America who cannot afford food.
Food insecurity is especially prevalent in the southern U.S., with Mississippi having 22.6 percent of people below the poverty line, Arkansas 19.5 percent, and Alabama 19 percent below the poverty line. Food insecurity in the South is clearly due to these high poverty levels, but there are other factors as well: Grocery stores are often few and far between, and these areas are affected by the same rising food prices hitting the rest of the country. Adding to this complexity is the fact that obesity is more prevalent in the South than in the rest of the country. Though likely due to a number of reasons, the obesity epidemic in the South is no doubt affected by these low income areas’ limited access to affordable healthy food.
What can be done? Mobile food pantries are often a perfect solution for bringing food into these southern rural areas.
Food pantries have been around for quite a while, but mobile food pantries are somewhat newer. These pantries specialize in providing healthier, fresher foods to people in need. They are able to carry perishable foods because they don’t have to be stored for long periods of time, and the pantries typically have refrigeration, which means they can provide access to fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads that those in need can afford.
Take the Montgomery Area Food Bank, Inc., as an example. The organization, according to its website, serves 35 counties and has distributed 1.4 million pounds of food through its mobile pantry outreach program.
“The Mobile Pantry Program is a direct distribution program of the Montgomery Area Food Bank. It is a great opportunity to help solve a big problem in our communities — that of food insecurity,” says Jolene Kearns, the mobile food pantry coordinator.
Another mobile food pantry serving the states of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi is the Bay Area Food Bank. With a grant from the Walmart State Giving Program, this program provides food throughout its service area. According to its website, “for each mobile pantry distribution, the food bank will provide approximately 5,000 pounds of a variety of grocery products such as canned goods, fresh produce, bread, pastry and frozen meat” to its member agencies, which can then distribute the food to people in need in their area.
Perhaps with the increasing advent of mobile food pantries, obesity and food insecurity may start to decline in these areas of America. No longer will healthy food be a “privilege.” Mobile food pantries are truly revolutionary in helping people in need live healthier, happier lives.