Removing food insecurity as a roadblock to achieving goals

By Family Centers staff

Food is both something distinctly unique to each individual yet a common thread among us all. For someone, food may mean family, connection, culture, love, or nourishment–or all of the above. On the most basic level, food is a critical human need, a basic need according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. His theory is simple: humans have a hierarchy of needs and they must satisfy their basic needs before they can address higher-level needs like safety, love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

At Neighborhood House Family Centers, we strive to help families achieve their next level of needs by creating goals and plans on how to reach them. When someone comes to us for help securing safety needs, they may be looking to find employment, further their education, or connect with mental health resources. When someone is looking for love and belonging, they may want to find community groups and ways to get involved in their neighborhoods.

But for many, food insecurity is what initially brings them to Neighborhood House. It’s what we address first when working with families. When we can help families meet their basic needs, they can work toward reaching higher-level needs that lead to increased happiness and satisfaction with life.

Food insecurity is a roadblock to reaching goals and creating success. It’s a dominating force that takes priority over other needs and holds families back. Hunger affects daily functioning, as well as physical and mental health. Kids may struggle to learn and grow, parents may become distracted and tired at work, family relationships may deteriorate, and overall stress levels may increase.

Because the ability to get enough food is directly tied to our health and wellbeing, some people stay in unsafe situations in order to meet this need. Some partners may stay in abusive relationships because they fear not being able to care for their kids on their own.

Addressing food insecurity at our Family Centers is a priority. Our five locations, including three within St. Paul schools, allow us to reach as many families as possible. Each location has a mini-food market with shelf-stable foods and snacks for kids or other items to meet immediate needs. We work to connect participants to our larger food markets and sign families up for public food benefits so that they can get enough food.

Neighborhood House’s overall hunger relief efforts are crucial to our Family Centers ability to support participants. When families don’t need to worry about where their next meal will come from, they’re able to focus on creating and reaching goals that satisfy their higher-level needs, allowing them to transform their lives.

You can help families who are experiencing food insecurity. Your gift for March Food Drive will help provide fresh, healthy foods to families in the St. Paul area. A donation of $150 provides a month’s worth of groceries to a family of four.