On the Kentucky/Tennessee border lies Clarksville, a city known for its rich history and vibrant, patriotic community. In 2019, Clarksville was voted the best place to live by Money magazine and has experienced a population growth of nearly 7% since 2020. However, beneath the surface, a significant challenge looms large – food insecurity. This pressing issue affects numerous individuals and families, and addressing it requires collective efforts and community engagement.
Food insecurity refers to the lack of reliable access to nutritious and affordable food. Sadly, Clarksville is not immune to this problem. According to recent studies, a significant portion (12.1%1) of its population struggles with hunger and limited access to healthy food options. (The entire state of Tennessee measures at 11.9% for food insecurity1). This is especially distressing as Clarksville is a city that prides itself on its strong community spirit.
Several factors contribute to food insecurity in Clarksville. Economic hardships, unemployment, low wages, and limited transportation options can make it difficult for individuals and families to access fresh and nutritious food. Supply chain issues and a pandemic mindset has further exacerbated the problem, pushing many households into financial instability and food insecurity. The consequences of food insecurity are far-reaching, impacting physical and mental health, educational outcomes, community violent crime rates, illicit drug use and overall community well-being.
To combat food insecurity in Clarksville, community organizations, government agencies, and individuals must join forces. Establishing and supporting local food banks and community gardens can provide immediate relief to those in need.
But beyond stocking food pantry shelves, we need to develop a network of community-connected partners who can correctly identify at-risk individuals and compassionately provide a way to get them the food they need. Promoting educational programs on nutrition, budgeting, and cooking skills equips individuals with the tools to make healthier food choices on a limited budget.
Food insecurity is an urgent issue that demands attention and action. By fostering community partnerships, increasing awareness, and implementing sustainable solutions designed to move food resources destined for landfills to our at-risk neighbors, we can work towards a future where no one in our city goes to bed hungry. Let’s make a goal this year to push Clarksville below the state average. There are specific things we can do for our at-risk neighbors to reduce their level of food insecurity. At Loaves & Fishes, we are committed to this community, and we stand ready to be that catalyst for change. Together, let’s build a stronger, more inclusive and more engaged Clarksville, where everyone has access to the nourishment they need to thrive.
1Gundersen, C., Strayer, M., Dewey, A., Hake, M., & Engelhard, E. (2022). Map the Meal Gap 2022: An Analysis of County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2020. Feeding America.