Westerman Column: Food Insecurity Amid the Economic Crisis
This past week I visited the Harvest Regional Food Bank in Texarkana. While there, I had the opportunity to tour their facilities and meet all the incredible people who work diligently behind the scenes to fight food insecurity in southwest Arkansas.
When people talk about food insecurity, you may picture a third-world country or low-income area in an urban city. Most of us wouldn’t think of a small town in Arkansas, and most of us wouldn’t picture our own backyards. What’s surprising to some people is that often food insecurity rates are higher in rural communities and small towns than in urban areas and big cities.
Even though America is the number one agricultural producer in the world and Americans spend less of their disposable income on food than other countries, food insecurity is still an issue our country faces. But unfortunately, amid the pandemic, we’ve seen a spike in food insecurity across the country. Hard-working Americans are feeling the pain of record-high inflation rates. The economic crisis in our country is making it harder for Americans to pay their bills, and hard-working mothers and fathers are facing uncertainty when it comes to providing food for their children as food prices escalate.
On my visit to Harvest Regional Food Bank, I was not only reminded of the impact that the economic crisis has had on families in rural areas, but I was also blown away by the work that the volunteers do to support families in the 4th District who are experiencing economic hardships. Through their Food Bank, Food Rescue, Backpack, Mobile Pantry, Gleaning programs, and their cooperation with local food pantries often run by churches, Harvest’s team is working around the clock to provide relief in southwest Arkansas. Organizations like Harvest Texarkana break down the barriers to food accessibility and provide relief to hundreds of families a year while they work through hard times.
When faced with adversity, it’s nice to have a helping hand while you get back up on your feet. As Congress gears up for the upcoming Farm Bill, there’s a great opportunity for programs that will be beneficial to agricultural producers as well as food banks like Harvest Texarkana providing relief to Americans who are feeling the pain of our economic crisis so they can provide for their families.