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What is Food Security


The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. It is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. 

Though hunger is certainly linked with food insecurity, it is not necessarily the same thing. Hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that can be a result of being food insecure, as someone experiencing food insecurity will also likely be experiencing hunger.  But food insecurity is a lack of nutritious food and tends to be an issue of access. (See "THREE PILLARS.")

Food insecurity is complex, as Feeding America notes:

"It does not exist in isolation, as low-income families are affected by multiple, overlapping
issues like affordable housing, social isolation, health problems, medical costs, and low wages."

These overlapping issues build upon each other, and addressing food insecurity effectively often requires a response to more than just food access.

  • High food security: no reported indications of food access problems or limitations
  • Marginal food security: one or two reported indications, typically of anxiety over food sufficiency or shortage of food in house; little or no indication of changes diet or food intake
  • Low food security: reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet; little or no indication of reduced food intake
  • Very low food security: reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake
For a look at food insecurity in Maine, click here.

For what the Morris Farm is doing, click here.

For a list of organizations working to address food insecurity, in Lincoln County & beyond, click here.

THREE PILLARS: The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies three pillars that determine food security:
  1. Food availability: access to sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis
    • Food insecurity can be a long-term or a short-term event.
  2. Food access: having sufficient resources and socially acceptable means to obtain appropriate foods or a nutritious diet
    • Fast food or highly processed foods that are insufficient sources of nutrients are not solutions to food insecurity.
    • Access to transportation, nearness to grocery stores, and high food prices are all examples of factors that affect food access.
  3. Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of nutrition and food preparation.