Food insecurity, or the lack of consistent access to enough food, is not something that is top of my mind very often. It probably should be, but it just isn’t. I have enough food, actually more than enough, and given the frantic pace of my life I often neglect to give a second thought to those who are not blessed like I am. I also think many of us in rural America think it is a big city or urban problem. It is not. In fact, I think we would all be shocked to know how many of our neighbors are food insecure.
Those of us who live in rural Kansas are proud people and often it is hard for us to ask for help. Your neighbors who may be food insecure are just like you. There is a certain stigma associated with not having enough food, especially in rural areas. Food insecurity happens for many reasons, and many are nothing to be ashamed of, but the reality of the situation is tough.
A related aspect is something called a food desert, which also is something I had not really thought about before or the fact that many of us live in them. A food desert is an area that may lack places to buy good-quality or healthy, fresh food. We have seen many of our small, rural grocery stores disappear leaving those who struggle with transportation facing food insecurity simply because they cannot drive to a larger city to shop.
I find all of this stunning. We live in the breadbasket of the United States, we grow a large part of the food for our population and yet we have hungry people in our midst. I have problems wrapping my head around it. But it all makes sense, food, especially healthy, fresh food is hard to come by in some of our towns. Couple that with the fact that eating healthy and staying away from packaged and premade food is expensive. Put it all together and we have a problem right here in our backyards.
That is why we, the members of Kansas Farm Bureau, are the perfect people to help fight hunger in our communities. We did that last year, when we raised nearly $100,000 in the middle of the pandemic to help our neighbors with a campaign to End Hunger in Kansas. That money went to food banks and pantries across the state. Now we are rolling out Phase 2 and many counties will be partnering with their local Farm Bureau agents, continuing the effort to End Hunger.
The Kansas Farm Bureau Foundation will be provide grants to assist county Farm Bureaus with projects to help their communities. Watch your local Farm Bureau for an announcement about how they’re planning to help and then jump in. We are incredibly blessed to live in the small communities most of us are part of, and we probably do not even know how much some of our neighbors are hurting. This is the perfect way to help. I do not know about fixing hunger worldwide, but I do know that if we each dig in, we can solve the problem right here at home. Together we can End Hunger in Kansas.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service