My son and I had a deep “driving home from school” type conversation yesterday about what percentages should be recognized as noteworthy. I think we started our talk based on hearing a BBC report on the percentage of new cases of cancers reported close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor, following the tsunami related disaster there in 2011. The numbers were very low in that case but as my son pointed out, if you’re the one affected or the family of someone who was, these percentages mean nothing to you.
These kinds of conversations do matter to us though, which is why I was blown away by a recent map I saw (distributed by Upworthy) which showed the “numbers” on Americans who struggle to eat. Once I get past my ongoing shock from the reality of “Americans who struggle to eat” (and it’s no less shocking to me today after spending four years looking at similar reports) there was one number that emerged that Community Plates will spend the next ten years or so facing every day.
In addition to that big number there were a couple of little number tidbits that were interesting. You’re most likely, for instance, to struggle to eat well if you live in Mississippi and least likely to do so if you live in Vermont. But of course my son’s words still ring true here; if your child is hungry, you don’t care if she’s 1 out of 4 or 1 out of 10.
But here’s the number. Life as it is right now in the United States. This number is not a call for future alarm but our current reality.
If you live in the United States you now have a 1 in 5 chance of being unable to provide the food that you and your family need to eat healthily. That’s 1 in 5. Everyone can do that math. In a representative U.S. town of 100 people, 20 of them are food insecure.
This is a number we have to look square in the face every day until it is no longer the case. Community Plates promises to do that. Every day.