Hunger in Boulder

By Allison Blakeney

One Thousand Design_BFR 34  We often get asked questions like, “Are there really hungry      people in Boulder?” and “Does poverty really exist in        Boulder?” This is typically followed by a lot of questions and statements based on stereotypes of hunger and poverty. These comments range from things about a person someone perceives as  “homeless”, who is or isn’t hungry, and finally comments about who (and who doesn’t) deserve help.

I would be willing to bet most people have similar perceptions as these questions and comments let on; hunger only takes the face of someone who might look malnourished: someone who seems jobless and houseless or a starving child in a country far away. While these populations are definitely affected by food insecurity, hunger comes in many other forms.

As Hana Dansky, the Executive Director of Boulder Food Rescue has put it:

“Before we started Boulder Food Rescue, I too assumed that hunger would be found primarily in the homeless population. Although it is true that this population faces significant food security issues, what I didn’t realize is that there are many faces of hunger that have not yet been indoctrinated into mainstream perceptions.”[1]

Some populations affected by hunger that are typically hidden from mainstream perceptions are children, elderly communities, families, low income communities, working poor individuals, etc.

One in Six people in this country is food insecure. This means they do not know where their next meal is coming from. For children, the numbers are worse- one in five children are living in a food insecure household, and for latinx children- one in four lives in a food insecure household. Furthermore, 35.1% of female-headed households with children are food insecure. [2]

One Thousand Design_BFR 21Hunger in America looks many different ways. We cannot simply assume that because someone has a job, a family, and a house that they are not struggling with hunger. Similarly, we cannot assume that because someone is “homeless” or struggling with hunger that it is their fault and they are solely responsible for their situation. Often families and individuals are systematically oppressed in many ways including but not limited to the food system which significantly contributes to their struggles, especially that of food security.

While BFR is amazing and has been able to pick up tremendous amounts of food (more than 800,000 lbs to date!), this is not enough. Simply minimizing the gap of hungry people and food wasted does not address the root cause of hunger that severely affects populations already marginalized by certain biases including racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism, and more. In order to reach this root cause and really affect a change in the amount of food insecure people in this country, we have to address the many facets of food insecurity and the ways these other forms of marginalization affect food security. This involves addressing the food system as a whole as well as the forms of oppression affecting access to food and especially fresh and nutritional food.

There will continue to be hungry people unless we address the root problems of this hunger and the prejudices that severely affect who does and does not have access to food. Minimizing the gap of food wasted and hungry people is extremely important especially while the food system remains in the current condition. However, it is pertinent to address the systematic reasons why there are so many people in this country who do not know where their next meal will come from or worse, know they won’t get their “next” meal.

It is important we do not assume that someone is or isn’t food insecure simply by how they look. They are so many systematic and individual factors and we will not get anywhere by making assumptions about this. Boulder Food Rescue hopes to continue engaging the community about food security and food justice in order to continue conversations and affect change in this extremely broken food system.



Photography by One thousand Design

[1] Email conversation Hana Dansky Feb. 25, 2015


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