Meal Planning Is Great, but What About Food Security?

by | Jan 24, 2022

Our January focus has been all about meal planning, but that assumes that people have access to affordable and nutritious foods. Regardless if we are talking about whole ingredients or canned goods, let’s discuss food insecurity in the U.S. for a moment.

According to the USDA, in 2020, 5.1 million households had very low food security. This means that one or more members of a U.S. household could not feed themselves on a regular basis. At the very least, this situation may lead someone to choose between paying for food or paying for things like rent and electricity. At the very worst, this could cause major health complications or even death. Parents will often shield children from food insecurity, so, while the children may be fed, the parents go hungry.

As we enter into a new semester, food insecurity is also present with the student body. Those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the marginalized, first-generation, and international students seem to suffer the most. Inadequate food access can lead not only to a decline in academic performance, but in physical and mental health as well.

Image credit: Canva

Systemic inequities and racial injustice are also responsible, meaning we must address the root causes and advocate for a hunger-free America. Whether short or long term, access to food is influenced by multiple factors such as employment status, disability, and race/ethnicity.

If you would like to learn more, donate, and/or advocate for better food equity, here is some guidance:

  • Write your representative. Click here to locate your Senators and Representatives of the House based on your state and congressional district.
  • Donate (money or food) to a food pantry. Food pantries, soup kitchens, subsidized groceries, emergency food programs, and other resources across the United States can help with providing nutritious and free or low-cost foods to those in need. Click here to locate a food pantry in your neighborhood to donate or obtain food items. Organizations like Meals on Wheels America focuses on the senior population and No Kid Hungry advocates against childhood hunger.
  • Volunteer at a food distribution center, co-op, or soup kitchen. Click here and here to learn more about Food Bank and City Harvest, respectively, if you are located in New York City, or check out the opportunities nationwide at Feeding America.
  • Additional information can also be found in our blog post, Personalizing Your Plate on a Budget.

If you are currently working with an organization, please add and tag them in the comments.



  1. Katherine Schwarz

    We should also advocate for food insecurity and food policy be taught to all nutrition students on the undergraduate level

    • dishwithdina

      Hi, Professor Schwarz, and Happy (belated) New Year! I’m so thankful for your readership and your comment. I 100% agree with you. I’m happy to say that, in the courses that I teach, I have integrated this discussion into my lectures, but that’s probably because I am interested in the topic. I hope that our school–and all schools–consider including food insecurity, policy/programs, and advocacy into their curriculum for the mutual benefit of the students and the community as well.

I’m Dina R. D’Alessandro, MS, RDN, CDN. I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in New York City, and I provide nutrition counseling to women.

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