A Different Kind of Grocery Shopping Experience

Last Published: 06/21/2013
Kate Sims

Say you have grocery shopping on your list of errands for the day. You plan how and when you are going to go to the store. Except you have to spend your last few dollars on the bus to get to the store and it takes two buses to get there. The store is only open at certain times and only open certain days of the week and not on the weekends.

Now picture how you usually arrive at the store, as you get your cart and explore each aisle. Well, imagine you actually have to sign-in at the front of the store and you have to show an ID, proof of income, and proof of how many children you have. Then you have to wait in a line with a number before even being able to see the food.

Say you also make a grocery list before going shopping. You think of the meals you will want for the next week and which ingredients you will need. Except in your new shopping situation, once your number is finally called, you only have two options for a protein or two options for bread, but either one might be completely out because you got there too late.

These barriers described are very real for many Americans relying on assistance from food pantries. This is just one example of what it is like to experience food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods. Food insecurity exists in 17.4 million households in America, 4.2 million of them with children. For more information, view the full USDA report, Household Food Safety in the United States, 2009.