There are More People in Lancaster County who are Food Insecure than you think!
written by, Terrence Pearson
Local food groups and volunteers look to improve a working formula for reducing the amount of food insecure in the county in order to close the meal gap.
What is, “Food Insecurity”?
Food insecurity is a phrase by the USDA used to reference a family under any circumstance that can not provide enough food for each individual to properly function throughout the day. Causes of food insecurity vary per family and circumstance. A family does not particularly have to always be food insecure. Many cases tend to begin with financial insecurity, which can change over time. Lancaster County rated at having 57% of people be food insecure in 2017.
Effects of food insecurity include:
- Serious health complications to children and elders.
- Conflicting decisions on how to spend money in the household.
- Compromised health insurance plans.
Ending food insecurity is a collaborative effort with hard working and generous volunteers. Residents across the nation rely on food banks and federal aid in order to sustain themselves during this time.
Local Groups and Organizations Who Help!
Hunger-Free Lancaster County
A new program known as, “Hunger Free Lancaster County” has made a strong effort to close to meal gap before 2020. This plan had the original goal of being able to give all those who are food insecure access to three meals a day. Founded in 2016, Hunger-Free Lancaster County (HFLS) consists of 40 coalition partners. Their partners are educational, social/nonprofit, faith based, and government based organizations. After three years of hard work the program has reduced the meal gap from 11% to 9%.
Auntie Anne’s and ALSF
Since 1988 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels has been not only selling quality pretzels to the community with their famous family recipe, but also work with a motto of giving back to the community that they serve. According to Hunger Free Lancaster there are 18% of hungry children in Lancaster County, leaving these children to be more likely to get sick. Back in 2000 Alexandra Scott raised $2,000 from a fundraiser, giving birth to the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). Since then, partnered with Auntie Anne’s ALSF has raised over $4.1 million. Funds are divided and dispersed to combat childhood cancer with funds reaching food pantries. Auntie Anne’s stores are located at Park City Center and Downtown Lancaster.
Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County (CAP)
Hunger is not the only issue plaguing a community. Hunger and food insecurity are related to financial status, Lancaster County’s food insecurity is related to the poverty line in the region. The Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County (CAP) is an organization founded in order to break the cycle of poverty between generations. Serving the community for over 50 years has allowed CAP to be able to partner with different coalitions and establish a volunteer effort that deals with issues that also result from poverty. The Food distribution team of CAP collects foods from food drives and donations annually. The food is distributed to food pantries and feeding programs in the area. In 2018 CAP was able to collect and distribute over 580,000pounds of food to local agencies.
College tuition is a budget only certain families can afford, it is usually a large investment when a student goes to college. There are times when tuition is all that can be afforded. The Hub is a no-stress zone for students on campus located under the Millersville Community United Methodist Church. It serves as a space on campus for commuter students to relax on campus. Alongside The Hub providing campus ministries and bible studies is the Campus Cupboard Food Pantry where struggling students are offered free essential items. Throughout the regular school semester they also will provide opportunities for students to donate canned goods and non-perishable items in order to make sure the food pantry has extra stock. Being able to save every cent counts for college students, having places on campus to assist students that need the extra support ensures better campus living. There are days throughout the week that The Hub hosts special events like Taco Tuesday, Free Lunch Thursday, and French Toast Friday.
Freshman at Millersville University and advocate for eliminating food insecurity in Lancaster County, Matthew Maradiaga has made multiple efforts since his enrollment at the University. Maradiaga was born in Florida and moved to Pennsylvania when he was 9. He noticed the food insecurity rates and slowly progressed to becoming more involved with community service soon after. When enrolling at Millersville University Maradiaga began volunteering at food banks within the city and events on campus.
“Fighting food insecurity is one of the most simple yet difficult volunteer programs that we can do as an active community because it takes determination and dedication, we can’t waver because we’ll only be delaying ourselves.”
This was the sentiment that Maradiaga believes in when asked about his disposition on the subject. He has recently become the newest president elect of the Millersville University chapter of the NAACP and looks to host new food drive events in the coming academic year.