Racial inequality as a root cause of food insecurity
By Beth Burrell
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement, dedicated his life to advancing equality for millions of Black Americans. While we have seen great strides to equality in our nation, there is still much work to be done.
King believed that all people should have equal opportunity in life. “I have the audacity to believe,” he said, “that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
Just as the Food Bank is here to serve all communities in southwestern Pennsylvania, it is also here to champion social justice, including racial equality, the absence of which is a root cause of food insecurity. Nationwide, the food insecurity rate for Black households is one in four. In comparison, one in 11 white households are food insecure.
People struggling with hunger are far from having opportunities equal to someone with stability. In theory, people facing hunger can go to school and get a good job, but in reality, they face great obstacles in doing so.
Hunger affects a person’s physical and emotional development and ability to succeed. Access to transportation to get to a grocery store let alone a job may be limited or non-existent. Too many of our region’s Black and Brown communities lack grocery stores and access to fresh, healthy food. In fact, only eight percent of Black Americans have a grocery store in their census area and their neighborhood stores often lack affordable, fresh and healthy foods.
The Food Bank is committed to confronting the inequitable and unfair treatment of people of color by working to create access where it is limited; distributing fresh, healthy foods; and advocating for programs that provide stability such as SNAP. The Food Bank is also collaborating with organizations to provide connections to assistance with other needs such as housing and healthcare.
In addition, thanks to our friends at the Hindu Jain Temple, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all gifts made to the Food Bank on Monday, January 18 at pittsburghfoodbank.org/MLK will be matched up to $10,000.
“Through the Humanitarian Committee of Hindu Jain Temple, I have been able to reach and work with several small food pantries and I dream a big dream of a world with zero hunger,” said Sumedha Nagpal, Chairman of the Humanitarian Committee at Hindu Jain Temple. “Mahatma Ghandi said ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Our future depends on what you do today’. That is the principle we are following as we partner with the Food Bank to do whatever we can to fight hunger, to fight poverty and to make a better future for our community,” Nagpal said.
The Food Bank is committed to working every day to create an inclusive environment that leverages the strengths of cultures, languages, experiences, families and communities to dismantle systemic racism, a root cause of food insecurity. By working together, we can ensure that all of our Black and Brown neighbors, have access to the food they need to lead healthy, productive lives.