The harsh reality of food insecurity is no secret, throughout the world, country, and here in Dublin. In fact, food insecurity and hunger continue to wreak havoc on many of our neighbors and are much more prevalent in Dublin than many realize.
As the Dublin Food Pantry works to ensure everyone in our community has enough to eat, there is a particular population that we must ensure does not get ignored. Referring to families in which children are being raised by relatives or family friends without a parent in the home, grandfamilies are a particularly vulnerable population and are frequently overlooked.
The fact is that there are 2.5 million U.S. children growing up in grandfamilies currently, and 25% of these families experience food insecurity. That is more than twice the national average. Why is this?
In many households across the country, grandparents and other friends and relatives are struggling to feed the children in their care. Inflation is making it worse, forcing families to choose between food and other essentials, like rent, medicine, or utilities. There are a variety of reasons why these families are more vulnerable, including:
- Income limits – Even grandfamilies with incomes above the federal poverty level experience food insecurity, as they oftentimes find it challenging to provide adequate nutritious food for rapidly growing children along with the other day-to-day expenses of raising them (especially if they are raising more than one child).
- Lack of awareness – Many grandfamilies have misconceptions about available nutrition programs due to misinformation from friends, family, media, or social media, which causes misconceptions about everything from the benefit amounts, what foods are provided or can be purchased, eligibility requirements, how food is distributed, and whether it’s worth taking the time to apply.
- Stigma – Receiving food and nutrition benefits and support can be complicated for some as personal, family, cultural, and societal stigmas related to receiving food and nutrition benefits create shame and embarrassment.
- Accessibility – Whether it is due to a lack of understanding about the application process, access to the technology necessary to apply, or the necessary transportation, there are significant accessibility issues to the available help for many grandfamilies.
We know that food insecurity in childhood and adolescence can have lifelong impacts, with direct links to adverse academic outcomes, behavioral problems, fewer friends, substance abuse, and chronic illnesses. A lack of food security also causes an increased likelihood of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression among adolescents, and with increased mortality and suicide ideation in adults.
Because food programs and initiatives often are structured in a way that does not take into consideration grandfamilies, policy changes must come from the top to ensure basic nutrition and adequate food is universal. But here in Dublin, we can all work together to support the grandfamilies in our own community who are experiencing food insecurity.
How Can You Help #FeedDublin?
Despite the exponential growth in the number of families and individuals that the food pantry has served over the past few years, we believe that we are currently serving only about 25% of the families and individuals in need in our community. The need for our services is higher than ever before, and it’s only going to continue to grow.
To meet the growing needs of our neighbors, the Dublin Food Pantry has launched a $3 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate a larger, more accessible facility at 6608 Dublin Center Drive. Our new home is conveniently located off of Sawmill Road, making the pantry easily accessible for all families and individuals within the City of Dublin and the Dublin City School district.
The new facility will allow us to expand our outreach, partner with other local nonprofit organizations to have resources in-house that are tailored to our neighbor’s needs, grow fresh produce in-house through our garden, and allow our choice pantry to greatly expand.
But we need your help.
- Visit dublinfoodpantry.org/feeddublin to learn more about the project
- Make a donation
- Help us spread the word by engaging with us on social media
- Be part of the conversation using #FeedDublin