Produced by Jennarose DiGiacomo

Never Give Up the Fight: Food Insecure

By: Jennarose DiGiacomo

“I started my advocacy through a program called Witnesses to Hunger,” Barbie Izquierdo, hunger advocate, said. “I’ve been doing this for seven years.” At the age of 20, Izquierdo began her struggle with food insecurity. She has two children; at the time they were two years old and 10 months old. Additionally, due to medical side effect because of lack of heat and the conditions of her home, her 10-month-old son was losing his vision.

There is quite a difference between food insecurity and hunger–they are not the same. Poverty can be a huge factor in both. As the recent American recession caused more unemployment, lowered household assets and cut across diverse American demographics, it became more difficult to obtain nutritious foods, according to Feeding America.

“I believe the biggest contributing factor to food insecurity is just the lack of knowledge,” Izquierdo said. “I think that people, if people knew how much this affects others they would actually want to do more.”

In 2012, According to FeedingAmerica.org, 46.5 million people lived in poverty, 16.1 million of which were children under the age of 18.

“Food insecurity is when a person does not know, is not confident in when they will get their next meal,” Professor Dr. Maria Elena Hallion, Cabrini College Exercise Science and Health Promotion, said.

“Along with being food insecure you’re exactly that…insecure,” Izquierdo said. “It brings about all these emotions on how you’re not good enough, how people are superior to you, how it’s like no matter what you do you’re looked at differently because of your need.”

Izquierdo was on public assistance for about two years, and during the time of filming “A Place at the Table” she started working at the Coalition Against Hunger. She helped people complete food stamp benefit applications, which is now called SNAP. During her time there she fought cases for people who had recently lost their food stamps. She also helped people find food pantries and soup kitchens in the area.

“And I was still food insecure.”

“I was honestly completly surprised this could occur in the United States,” Hallion said. Hallion has done extensive research on childhood obesity and hunger. Just when she thought children were eating too much food, there actually is an opposite problem of not enough nutritious food.

“I don’t really understand how it can occur when we know we have a surplus of food,” Hallion said. “We know we have people over eating food and that these problems actually exist in the United States.”

“Being a part of “A Place at the Table” was a really huge blessing,’ Izquierdo said. “Not only for myself and how much it made me grow as a person but because Participant Media which is the film company that took on the film did a great job of starting a social action campaign.”

“I think this was a good way of helping people who don’t experience food insecurity or who might not be as familiar with it for them to still realize there is a problem and they can do something about it,” Izquierdo said.

Next: How Location Affects Food Insecurity