Five things you need to know about food insecurity

Approximately 100,000 or 15 percent of Davidson County residents are food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to enough food to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is above the 12.9 percent national average. Here are five quick facts about food insecurity:

There are four pillars to food security.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identified the four pillars of food security as

  • Availability
  • Access
  • Utilization
  • Stability

When one of these pillars is unstable or non-existent, people can live in a state of food insecurity.

Food insecurity has adverse effects on children.

Food insecurity is particularly detrimental to children. Not having access to healthy food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health and academic achievement.

Research shows an association between food insecurity and delayed development in young children; these children lag behind their food-secure peers in terms of cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

People of color are disproportionately affected by higher risk of hunger.

People of any color, ethnicity, or demographic background can experience food insecurity. However, people of color are more vulnerable than others.

According to the USDA, 22.5% of African American households and 18.5% of Hispanic households are food insecure. Both of these are significantly higher than the average of 12.9%.

Poverty is the most common cause of food insecurity.

As ironic as it sounds, it is expensive to live in poverty.  Many families in Davidson County cannot afford healthy food to lead healthy lives or live in food deserts with no access to healthy food. This causes them to purchase inexpensive, junk food, which in turn, causes costly health problems.

The Nashville General Hospital Foundation’s allegiance to serving diverse communities is steady, which is why we have implemented an innovative initiative to address food insecurity, called the Food Pharmacy™ at NGH. Through this initiative, all patients, regardless of how they access services at Nashville General Hospital, are screened for food insecurity. Those identified with food insecurity are provided access to fresh and non-perishable food specific to their medical needs and given 1-1 education by a nutritionist or care manager.

If you’re interested in joining the fight combat food insecurity, go to  for volunteer opportunities at the Food Pharmacy.

Together, with Second Harvest Food Bank Middle Tennessee and the generous funding from Amerigroup Foundation, Nashville General Hospital will continue to provide fresh, well-balanced meals to support a healthier Nashville.

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