Food insecurity in the United States is a devastating and persistent issue that over 35 million Americans faced in 2019. According to Feeding America’s March 2021 publication on the impact of Covid-19 on food insecurity in America, matters are continually getting worse: as unemployment rates have spiked, as has the rate of food insecurity, jumping from 1 in 9 Americans to 1 in 7 from 2019 to 2020. This rate is expected to go down during 2021, however not to pre-Covid levels. Within Massachusetts (my home-state) alone, food insecurity rates have risen 59% since 2018, the highest percentage increase of any state. Coupled with this issue is a distressing lack of engagement with it. Personally, I was shocked to learn that Massachusetts had the highest percent increase in food insecurity rates because the topic had seemed distant, especially while at Deerfield, the issue can feel abstract, leading to a lack of attention.
This summer, due to the help of a CSGC grant, I have the opportunity to engage with this topic in my community, directly and indirectly. Over D-Term, I used grant funds for a project with similar goals in which I was able to volunteer at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts (with a calculated impact value of $537.84), cook and distribute 45 meals, and sew and donate 40 reusable face masks to a local homeless shelter. These components of the project had direct impacts in addressing food insecurity and I am excited to continue that work. To do so, I will continue volunteering at Food Banks in Western and Eastern Massachusetts; assist with the opening of a new farm in Hadley; and continue to cook and distribute meals to those hungry in the area. Less directly, I would like to take this project one step further through an in-depth research project looking at the intersection of food insecurity and health outcomes. This research will culminate in an educational podcast. I hope that this second part of the project will have lasting effects in bringing awareness to the issue.
Through volunteering, meal distribution, education, and being continually on the lookout for ways in which I can have a helpful impact on my community, I will utilize this grant to combat food and health insecurity to my fullest capacity.
-Ella Foulkes ’22