Hunger is a major issue in the United States. About 50 million Americans are not sure when or where their next meal will come from. Many of these Americans are living with food poverty or food insecurity. Some do not have the access to nourishing, wholesome food beneficial to their health, because it can be expensive or unavailable. Others do not have the means to afford any food and thus do not get enough nutritious food for reasons such as illness, unemployment, or poverty. According to the South Florida Hunger Coalition, “Lack of dietary diversity and essential minerals and vitamins also contributes to increased child and adult mortality. Vitamin A deficiency impairs the immune system, increasing the annual death toll.” Change is key in working to cease hunger and the lack of food available in the U.S. In order for change to take place, advocacy is necessary. Advocacy is one of the most important functions of a nonprofit organization, and it drives communal support for nonprofits like the Poverello Center. The more we advocate, the more we influence issues directly affecting the lives of the people served within the community. The Poverello Center specifically advocates for those suffering from disease and hunger in South Florida, seeking to raise money for these individuals. By raising funds, not only can The Poverello Center feed these individuals, but we can also raise awareness about their conditions.
In 2016, Poverello received a technical assistance grant to learn advocacy funded by MAC AIDS Fund. As a result of the technical assistance, Poverello staff have developed an advocacy plan for improving food and nutrition services within the agency as well as within our area. As a part of this assistance, our staff was invited to the National Food is Medicine Coalition meeting in New York in 2016. At that meeting, we learned about marketing strategies that resulted in Poverello’s adaptation of the message “Food is Medicine” to Eat Well. We also met CEO of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Tom Viola, and in early 2017 received our first grant from their efforts.
In order to propel such change, we need to be able to understand the words and terms associated with hunger; after all, knowledge is power. Knowledge is what drives organizations, such as Feeding America, Feeding South Florida, and the Poverello Center, to continue to solicit the help and means necessary to provide for the people in our local communities by giving them the resources and living essentials for them and their families.
Food Insecurity – The state of being in which one is without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity can occur to any individual who must make difficult decisions between medicine, bills, or healthy meals. When people do not have access to healthy food, their symptoms could worsen or cause future illness. For further information please visit the USDA page on Food Insecurity in the U.S or watch this video on Hunger in America.
Food Poverty – The inability of individuals and households to obtain an adequate and nutritious diet on a daily basis, often because they cannot afford food or because there is a lack of food in their area. These individuals don’t have access to fruits and vegetables.
Food Bank – A nonprofit organization that stores large quantities of food that it solicits from local vendors and obtains from generous donations. Food banks collect these donations from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, government agencies, communities, and emergency food programs. An inventory is taken of all the food they receive and then it is stored in our facility, until the food is given to people suffering from food insecurity or food poverty. Feeding America would be an example of a Food Bank.
Food Pantry – A nonprofit organization or facility that sorts, organizes, and distributes donations directly to the community. Although Food Pantries do store donations on its premises, it does not have the capacity to store as large quantity of items as Food Banks. Pantries obtain their donations by purchasing it themselves or receiving them from Food Banks and generous donors. These donors would include grocery stores, wholesalers, and freehanded individuals. The Poverello Center would be an example of a Food Pantry.
Medically Tailored Meals – Meals that are prescribed to the specific needs of individuals to prevent and/or address specific defined health care conditions including: diabetes, chronic heart, kidney disease, and liver disease.
Food Aid – Diverse initiatives providing food to people in need, such as food banks, meal projects, soup runs, food vouchers, community care, and ‘Meals on Wheels’. This type of aid provides food to the sick, the elderly, and the poor.
Food as Medicine – Food that is an important aspect of treating and preventing illness. ‘Food as Medicine’ is a movement concerning how we look at food. We hope that one-day food will be treated as necessary medicine and will be covered by some forms of healthcare like Medicaid, Health Insurance, and Medicare. The food that we eat makes us stronger, and so we should be treating food as a necessity for every individual, especially if they are sick.
Food Recovery – This refers to the collection of edible food to distribute to the poor, sick, elderly and hungry. Food is recovered from local grocery stores and bakeries. Some of these shops cannot keep food for longer than a day, and so we retrieve the food and give it to hungry individuals who stop by at The Poverello Center.
Wellness – This is an active process of becoming aware and making choices toward a healthy, fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth towards a healthy lifestyle.
Chronic illness – This is a health condition or disease that persistently effects the human condition. The term “chronic” is used if the condition lasts longer than 3 months. Common chronic diseases include arthritis, asthma, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes and viral diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.
Fundraising – This is the process of gathering voluntary contributions or other resources by petitioning for donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, and government institutions. Fundraising is also known as “development” and is an instrumental way of compounding funds and making important connections.
Overhead – These are the administrative expenses of nonprofit organizations necessary for managing general organizational functions, which sometimes can be attributed to revenue-generating activities. Overhead can be considered the backbone of a non-profit organization. These investments do not immediately affect the community, but can exponentially increase the impact of non-profits like The Poverello Center. For more insight on Overhead and why it is necessary, watch Dan Pallotta’s Speech on TED.