The Connection Between Hunger, Food Deserts, and Teens in Gangs

New York City is one of the richest places in the world, and yet over 1.4 million people, including one in four children, lack sufficient food. The article, Skipping Meals, Joining Gangs: How Teens Cope Without Enough Food at Home, by Natalie Jacewicz (please find the link below) dissects this problem through the lens of teen hunger. The Urban Institute and Feeding America consider teenagers as “one group falling through the cracks” in the fight against hunger. To remedy this problem teens have turned to unconventional methods, such as: asking friends for food, getting jobs, bartering for sex, theft, and even gang membership.

In the article, Jacewicz identifies several different factors causing teen hunger, including food deserts. A food desert is a geographic area where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food is restricted or nonexistent, due to a lack of grocery stores located in the surrounding area. Approximately 750,000 New York City residents live in food deserts, with another three million residents are living on the cusp. Without proper access to nutritious food the fight against teen hunger with be a losing battle.