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Food insecurity in Siouxland

(KTIV)- Food insecurity means lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

According to Feeding America, in 2017, the overall country food insecurity in the United States was 40,044,000.

For Iowa, the number of people that were food insecure was 341,890, or 10.9% of the state.

In Nebraska, it was 223,170 or 11.6% of the state.

And for South Dakota, 99,190 or 11.4% of the state.

“It’s awful to know how much need there is, how many people are struggling,” said Linda Scheid, Executive Director of the Foodbank of Siouxland.

In Siouxland, tens of thousands experience hunger every day.

“They don’t know where their next meal is going to come from,” said Scheid.

But hunger doesn’t have a specific “look”.

“You might not know that it’s the person that lives across the street from you or across the hall from you or a person whose office is right next door to yours,” adds Scheid. “They’re not going to tell you they’re struggling- they don’t what you to know. Because they’re working, and they’re trying, and they’re doing their very best. But at home, on their own time, they’re well aware that they are having a hard time.”

The total number of people in our area that fit under the “food insecurity” category is 25,380.

To put that number into perspective: that is approximately 2-and-a-half times the number of people the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City can hold.

Of that number 10,780 are children.

“70% of our students are on federal meal assistance of some sort,” said Dr. Paul Gausman, Superintendent of Sioux City Community School District. “So 7 out of every 10 students are receiving some type of assistance.”

Dr. Gausman takes that number into account when deciding whether or not to issue a snow day during the winter months.

“There are a number of students who may not have the opportunity to have one or two of the meals they would normally have in a given day if we don’t open our schools for their service,” says Dr. Gausman.

But hunger knows no age limit.

From the youngest to the oldest– it affects hundreds of thousands of people in just this community alone— and it could happen to you.

“There is something to be said, is every one of us is one disaster away, one heartbeat, one moment away from finding ourselves in need,” adds Scheid.

There are ways you can help eliminate the number of people who are food insecure.

Linda Scheid, Executive Director of the Foodbank of Siouxland, says the number one helpful donation they receive, is a financial donation.

“We can acquire so much more with our dollar than an individual shopper or citizen in the community can get,” said, Executive Director of the Foodbank of Siouxland. “We can acquire 13 pounds of food for $1. Plus, I know where the gaps are- if I’m really deep in vegetables this week but I’m looking for fruit, I’ll go buy fruit if I have the resources to make that purchase.”

Scheid adds that donations of food and your time are also helpful.

To learn more about how you can help, click here.

Jennifer Lenzini

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