What is Food Security?
Food security is measured by food availability and an individuals’ ability to access it. Gaining access to healthy and affordable food can be a challenge for many rural residents. Several rural areas lack food retailers and are considered food deserts. Food deserts are known as areas with limited amounts of fresh, affordable foods. In these areas access to food may be limited by financial constraints or other factors, such as transportation challenges. The Balm In Gilead is committed to providing support to faith leaders and congregations to address the socio economic issues surrounding food insecurities in African American communities.
Four Dimensions of Food Security
Food availability: The availability of sufﬁcient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid).
Food access: Access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Entitlements are deﬁned as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic, and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources).
Utilization: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security.
Stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity). The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security.