Edit ModuleShow Tags
Published:

Challenging the Stigma of Food Assistance



Photo: Thinkstock.com/XiXinXing


Poverty  is fluid  in the United States. At a moment’s notice, anyone can find themselves in a life-changing situation such as job loss, reduced wages, a disability diagnosis, divorce or natural disaster. It can take just one crisis to push a family over the edge: an injury that makes it impossible to work, a death in the family, a car breaking down or even the birth of a baby. All of these can be traumatic economic events for a family with little or no savings, putting many Americans at risk for food insecurity. 

What is Food Insecurity? 

Imagine how you felt the last time you were hungry. Did you experience headaches or did you become aggravated, impatient, frustrated and intolerable? Now envision yourself walking to your refrigerator to find it empty. You open your wallet to learn you do not have money to buy food for the rest of the month. This is food insecurity. Food insecurity also can occur when a person does not have enough money to buy a variety of foods with high nutritional quality. For example, a family experiencing food insecurity may rely on instant noodles or prepared pancake mix to feed their families breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Unfortunately, many people who qualify for food assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, do not pursue the support they need because of the stigma associated with food assistance. While food insecurity impacts everyone’s health negatively, it is particularly crushing to children. Nourishing foods are critical to a child’s mental, emotional and physical development. 

If we are serious about ending child hunger in the United States and improving our next generation’s health, we must dismantle the stigma associated with food assistance programs. We must shift the way we individually and collectively think and talk about food insecurity in the United States. 


For more information on food insecurity and how Clancy Cash Harrison’s own misconceptions led her to become a food justice advocate, listen to her TEDx Talk on YouTube, below:


If you have participated in a nutrition program such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, or any national school nutrition program, don’t be afraid to talk about how it transformed your life. What if you did not have access to the National School Lunch Program? Would you have done well on your exams, or would you have been too hungry to concentrate? Did food assistance help pave the way to your higher education? Would you be who you are today if you did not have access to school lunch and breakfast? 

Your ability to listen to other people’s stories and share your own success stories will help our nation see food assistance as a hand up, not a hand out. Let’s stop the stigma together and be the change so many children need. 


Clancy Cash Harrison, MS, RDN, FANDClancy Cash Harrison MS, RDN, FAND, is a TEDx speaker, author of Feeding Baby, and food justice advocate. You can find more information at her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Edit Module

More Stone Soup

Packing for a Trip: The One Item You Need Most

Packing for a Trip: The One Item You Need Most

Whether you're going on vacation, a daily excursion, or hopping from country to country, there is one simple thing you can do to make for a healthier journey: carry a water bottle. Water makes up the majority of our body weight and we owe it to ourselves to replenish our bodies with what it naturally needs, in its most natural form.
A Foodless Farm Bill

A Foodless Farm Bill

America’s food, feed, fiber, and fuel are intricately tied up into the massive yarn ball of generations of federal government policy. Undoing it isn’t so simple. Not addressing it is lack of leadership.
Are You Ready for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines?

Are You Ready for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines?

The headlines in the papers screamed, “Less Sugar! More Coffee! Eat Eggs!” The thing is, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines won’t be out until the end of the year, and already the press is eavesdropping its way into sensational headlines.
What Stone Soup Means to Me

What Stone Soup Means to Me

Recently, I've been reading a version of Stone Soup to my 4-year-old girls. It's a story about hungry travelers who encounter a village of stingy folk. They creatively devise a plan to get the townspeople to share their food without even knowing it—all concocted through a "secret recipe" for a dish called Stone Soup. To me this book is not only about sharing, it is also about the discovery of good cuisine—in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Advertise with Food & Nutrition
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags


Stone Soup

Guest bloggers from around the world share with Food & Nutrition Magazine.

About This Blog

Stone Soup is a guest blog written by members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Content — including information, recipes and views expressed — is that of the authors and does not reflect the positions or policies of Food & Nutrition Magazine or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bloggers are required to pledge they will not write for Stone Soup on topics, companies or trade organization they currently represent or have represented at any time.

Learn about our guest blogs!

Comments Policy

Food & Nutrition Magazine provides this forum to exchange ideas, opinions and contributions within a positive community. Diverse viewpoints and constructive, respectful dialogue are welcome. Rudeness, misinformation, self-promotion and abuse are not. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate this policy or our Terms & Conditions. You must include your name or be logged into a personal account on Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to comment.

Archives

Edit Module

Get Stone Soup in Your RSS

Use your RSS reader's instructions to add Stone Soup to your list:

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Stone Soup Feed »

Get Our Blogs in Your Email

Stone Soup
Student Scoop