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Food Insecurity: Shame on Florida and Kudos to Arby’s Foundation

Shame on Florida and Kudos to Arby’s Foundation

Editor’s Note: As a Florida resident, I am ashamed of our state for letting so many children go hungry especially during the summer months. We see huge amounts of money spent on prisons, but how about more funding to help care for Florid’a children. Thank you to the Arby’s Foundation for stepping up!

Florida has a 26 percent child food insecurity rate, which means one in four kids do not know where their next meal will come from. To help end childhood hunger, the Arby’s Foundation is helping at-risk children in Tampa receive free meals through its successful “School’s Out, Food’s In” program.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), while more than 22 million school children in America receive free or reduced-price school lunches during the school year, and only nearly four million of those kids receive a free summer meal when school is out.

ARBY'SAs part of the “School’s Out, Food’s In” initiative, the Arby’s Foundation will work with Pinellas County Schools to distribute 10,000 meal cards to Tampa children in need. With the meal cards, Tampa children who rely on meal assistance during the school year will receive 10 free, wholesome Arby’s kids meals throughout the summer. As part of last year’s “School’s Out, Food’s In” program, the Arby’s Foundation provided access to more than 1.6 million meals to children in need across the country.

“Summer can be a challenging time for families and as the last bell of the school year rings, it’s sad to know that some of our students will have limited access to meals,” said Lori Matway Associate Superintendent, Student and Community Support Services, Pinellas County Schools. “Thankfully, the Arby’s Foundation has designed an easy, accessible method to ensure children have access to meals during the summer. We are honored to participate in the ‘School’s Out, Food’s In’ program for the third consecutive year in an effort to end childhood hunger in Tampa.”

ARBY'SThe Arby’s Foundation was founded as a way for Arby’s to give back to the communities it serves. For more than 30 years, the Arby’s Foundation has donated more than $80 million to various youth-related causes across America and has had a specific focus on childhood hunger since 2011. As part of the brand’s year-round commitment to ending childhood hunger, every purchase of an Arby’s Kids Meal helps fund the work of the Arby’s Foundation.

What is Food Insecurity?

According to Feeding America®, the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, in 2015, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, equating to 42 million Americans including 13 million children. [i].

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

It is important to know that hunger and food insecurity are closely related, but distinct, concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household.

Policy evaluation and both quantitative and qualitative research reveal food insecurity to be a complex problem. It does not exist in isolation, as low-income families are affected by multiple, overlapping issues like affordable housing, social isolation, and low wages. Many do not have what they need to meet basic needs and these challenges increase a family’s risk of food insecurity. Effective responses to food insecurity may need to address these overlapping challenges.

Taken together, issues such as affordable housing, social isolation, education level, unemployment or underemployment and food insecurity are important social determinants of health [ii] defined as the “conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” HungerandHealth.org explores the impact of food insecurity as a social determinant of health and its effect on individual and population health outcomes.

Poverty and food insecurity in the United States are closely related, but people living below the poverty line are not always experiencing food insecurity, and people living above the poverty line can experience food insecurity. Wages and other critical household expenses (such as caring for an ill child) can also help predict food insecurity among people living in the United States.

Who does Food Insecurity Affect?

There is no single face of food insecurity. It impacts every community in the United States. To learn more about child and overall food insecurity in your state, congressional district and even county, visit the Map the Meal Gap study conducted by Feeding America®. For information about food insecurity among certain populations, visit the pages below:

Feeding America Real Story: Samantha

Ranges of Food Security

There are four labels used to describe ranges of severity of food (in)security [iii].


  1. Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C. (2016) The State of Senior Hunger in America 2014: An Annual Report, Supplement. National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH).
  2. Social Determinants of Health. Healthy People 2020. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-of-health. Accessed January 24, 2017.
  3. Definitions of Food Security. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security/#ranges Updated October 6, 2016. Accessed January 12, 2017.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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