Hunger Glossary

Anemia - A condition in which the hemoglobin concentration (the number of red blood cells) is lower than normal due to disease or as a result of a deficiency of one or more nutrients such as iron.

Community gardening - Community gardening brings together neighbors and others of diverse cultures, ethnicities, ages and abilities to work for change by creating new community resources. Community gardens can serve as a catalyst for neighborhood development, beautification, recreation, therapy and food production.

Community Kitchen - A charitable program providing hot meals to homeless and low-income residents of a neighborhood or community. Community kitchen programs are volunteer-led. Often referred to as a "soup kitchen."

Daily caloric requirement - The average number of calories needed to sustain normal levels of activity and health, taking into account age, gender, body, weight and climate; on average 2,350 calories per day.

Food Bank - Private, nonprofit distribution warehouses affiliated with America's Second Harvest, a national coordinating network for food banks. Food banks provide central locations for the receipt of donated food and a decentralized method of food distribution to other nonprofits in local communities. Food banks have operated in the United States for close to 20 years.

Food drive - Method employed by food banks and pantries to raise donations of nonperishable food for distribution to low-income people. Food drives are often sponsored by religious groups, civic organizations, schools and clubs which collect canned food to donate to the food bank.

Food guide pyramid - Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1993, the pyramid offers a graphic presentation of the key messages of the food guide: variety, food types and moderation. Use of the pyramid as a teaching tool can serve to link scientific research with consumer shopping and eating habits.

Food pantry - Community-based, nonprofit food assistance program most often found at churches, synagogues, mosques and social service agencies. Food pantries provide a limited amount of food to individuals and families facing food emergencies.

Food Rescue Organizations - Programs which safely transport perishable foods from donors directly to recipient agencies supplying food to people in need.

Food security - Access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. At minimum, this includes the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods and the assured ability to acquire personally acceptable foods in a socially acceptable way. Characteristics of a food secure community include:

  • The availability of a variety of foods at a reasonable cost
  • Ready access to grocery stores and other food sources
  • Enough personal income to purchase adequate food to meet nutritional needs of all household members
  • Freedom to choose acceptable foods
  • Personal confidence in the safety and quantity of food available
  • Easy access to good information and nutrition

Food Stamp Program (FSP) - The nation's primary food assistance program for low income people. The program provides coupons (stamps) or EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards to eligible households, which can be used to purchase specific food items. Children comprise 50 percent of food stamp recipients; seniors comprise another 15 percent. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, states manage the distribution and eligibility screening.

Hunger - A condition in which people do not get enough food to provide the nutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals and water) for fully productive, active and healthy lives.

Low birth-weight - Babies born weighing 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) or less, who are especially vulnerable to illness and death during the first months of life.

Malnutrition - A condition resulting from inadequate consumption or excessive consumption of a nutrient; can impair physical and mental health and contribute to or result from infectious diseases.

Nutrition - The process by which organisms assimilate materials that are necessary for sustenance, energy and growth. Good human nutrition requires a well-balanced diet containing an adequate amount of food and calories. Failure to achieve this balance can result in various diseases, dysfunctions, deficiencies and death.

Poverty line - Official measure of poverty defined by national governments. In the United States the poverty line was instituted in 1967 and was based on a study that concluded that an average family spent one-third of its net income on food. Subsequently, the net cost of poverty level living was set at triple the cost of the "Economy Food Plan" deemed a subsistence diet by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Shelter - Within this context, shelter refers to temporary lodging made available to homeless individuals. This service is designed to protect homeless from inclement weather and street crime as well as provide a meal, a bed, shower facilities, clean clothing and/or modest medical care. Shelters are most often operated by private nonprofits or local governments.

State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - $2.5 million is requested each year for the SNAP Program in North Carolina and $1 million is allocated from the North Carolina General Assembly to the six North Carolina America's Second Harvest Food Banks. The funds enable the Food Banks to further alleviate hunger by using this appropriation to purchase staple foods from North Carolina companies for emergency assistance agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, rescue missions, Kids Cafes, domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters. Since 1997, these funds have been designated for food purchases with a small percentage supporting transportation, storage and distribution.

Social safety net - Government and private charitable programs designed to meet the needs of low-income, disabled, elderly, and other vulnerable people.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - Federally funded, cash assistance program signed into law in August 1997. This new program is often referred to as "welfare." People must meet income qualifications, have dependent children and begin employment in order to receive TANF benefits. TANF is administered by states and implemented by state offices in local counties.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) -Under the new Welfare Reform Law, TEFAP and the Soup Kitchen/USDA Commodities have been merged into one program. TEFAP is administered by the County Commissioners in the state and distributed to needy people through two systems of distribution in North Carolina. The six North Carolina America's Second Harvest Food Banks have been working with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services since 1997 to distribute the food through the distribution system of the six Food Banks to qualified agencies such as emergency assistance agencies and other charities for their needy clients. Over 50 percent of the counties have agreed to transfer to the Food Bank system.

Vulnerability to hunger - A condition of individuals, households, communities or nations who have enough to eat most of the time, but whose poverty makes them especially susceptible to hunger due to changes in the economy, climate, political conditions or personal circumstances. Also referenced as "at risk to hunger."