Hunger is found everywhere, even here on Long Island.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity for households as those that are “uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all their members.”
According to the agency’s statistics for 2018, more than 10 percent of households in New York are food insecure. In Nassau County, the problem is even more pronounced, with the Long Island Health Collaborative, a consortium of the region’s hospitals and health networks, reporting that in 2014, nearly 24 percent of adults — roughly 1 in 4 — faced food insecurity.
Individuals and families suffering in this situation are typically not the poorest of the poor. Usually they are middle class, struggling with their mortgage payments and insurance premiums or dealing with an illness or a family member who was suddenly laid off from work. These people often fall through the cracks because they are too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.
According to the Health Collaborative, 41 percent of the food insecure in Nassau are not eligible for taxpayer-funded nutrition assistance, highlighting the economic precariousness of life for a vast number in this era of stagnant wages and ambivalence over support for public social services.