Thousands of Coloradans Face Food Insecurity this Holiday Season
According to the 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey, more than 20% of Coloradans have experienced some degree of food insecurity. This holiday season, as Coloradans come together around tables laden with food, those concerned about being able to afford consistent access to nutritious food may face extra burdens.
What is food insecurity?
Food insecurity occurs when a household does not have consistent and sufficient access to food. The USDA defines four stages of severity:
High Food Security
A household has not indicated any problems or limitations in accessing food.
Marginal Food Security
A household with few reports of anxiety over food sufficiency in the house, but has not necessarily changed their diet or food intake.
Low Food Security
A household with reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet, but has not necessarily reduced food intake.
Very Low Food Security
A household with multiple reports of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
When defining food insecurity, it is important to understand that food insecurity is different from hunger. Hunger is a physical condition where an individual experiences discomfort, pain, and sometimes illness from lack of food. Food insecurity, however, represents a larger, systemic issue of a household not being able to afford consistent access to food.
What are the causes?
There is no one root cause of food insecurity. Many contributing factors can be attributed to the growing wealth gap, including unemployment, a lack of affordable housing, and varying income levels. In addition, some households lack adequate transportation, or they may have a disability that limits mobility, both of which can make accessing nutritious food more difficult.
Is food insecurity a problem?
For households experiencing food insecurity, they often spend upwards of 27% of their income on food. Worrying about where their next meal will come from adds pressure and anxiety to households who are already struggling to budget and prioritize their monthly expenses. For example, in 2021, 8.1% of Coloradans reported not eating as much as they thought they should because they could not afford food.
At Archway, we recognize that food insecurity affects thousands of Coloradans, including our residents. Through our second annual Community Needs Assessment, 47.9% of respondents reported that they are on food stamps, while 28.4% reported that they are in need of food assistance. This year, our Community Needs Assessment reflects 68% of our total residents.
How can I help?
While there is no immediate solution, there are programs in place to support those in need. In Colorado, households can qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) based on their income level. This program offers economic support, though households facing mobility issues may still find it difficult to maintain consistent access to food.
At Archway, we partner with Food Bank of the Rockies and Care and Share to bring food to our residents and their families through our weekly, on-site food share programs. In 2022, our food share programs averaged 532 monthly participants. This year, our food share programs have been averaging 550 monthly participants. The food offered each week is collected and organized by our Supportive Services team, informed by cultural and community-specific requests.
Nobody should have to make the decision between paying rent or putting food on the table for their family. This holiday season, we at Archway are making a push to combat food insecurity across our communities. To help, please consider making a donation on our Colorado Gives Day webpage. Your donation helps strengthen the archway to a more equitable future.