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  • Writer's pictureBranch County Community Foundation

Community Need Spotlight: Food insecurity

Parent and child at supermarket

Though natural disasters and the resulting humanitarian needs are frequent but sporadic, the need for food in our community is an everyday constant. And with school back in session, the needs among the food insecure and food banks—often met through philanthropic generosity—are heightened.

Compounding the issue is that food inflation remained relatively high at 4.9% in July, despite being less than half of its mid-2022 11.4% rate. Typically second only in household budget importance to shelter, food’s nearly 5% year-over-year increase frustratingly occurred when prices for gasoline, natural gas, and airline fares registered double-digit declines, according to July’s Consumer Price Index figures. Digging deeper into the food price conundrum, food-at-home importance was more than double that of food-away-from-home. Deeper still, the prices for produce and convenience foods like cereal and bakery products led the price increases.

Together, food’s high demand and prices are straining philanthropic food dollars. This reduces funding availability for other needs, especially seasonal back-to-school clothing and supplies, and also utility relief due to the scorching summer temperatures.

Many donors and fund holders at the community foundation like to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with the need for food. Indeed, many families discuss food insecurity with their children and grandchildren as an opportunity to learn about philanthropy because it is easy for even young children to understand how important food is to well-being and what it might feel like to be without it.

Here are three insights you can consider as you talk with your family about the importance of charitable giving to support families in your community who are faced with challenges putting food on the table:

  • Approximately 49 million people—about 1 in 6 Americans—received charitable food assistance sometime in 2022.

  • During an average day in the 2021-2022 school year, 15.5 million children received a school breakfast and nearly 30 million children received a school lunch.

  • Research has documented improved academic performance in math and English language arts by students participating in Universal Free Lunch programs.

By working with the community foundation, you and your family can learn about charitable organizations in our community that are striving to help people who are facing hunger. Whether you’d like to support a local organization, or perhaps an organization in the community where you were raised or have a particular interest such as the locale of a second home, the team at the community foundation can help you make a difference through your donor-advised fund, arrangements for bequests and other planned gifts such as retirement plan beneficiary designations, a field-of-interest fund, and many other charitable giving vehicles that are designed to meet your charitable goals as well as your financial and tax goals.


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