A representative from Everyone Eats passes out paper towels during the organization’s event (photo courtesy of Everyone Eats).

Atlanta’s food insecurity problem isn’t just an issue dealing with classism and poverty; it deals with race, as well. The Everyone Eats Foundation, founded by Summer Johnson, is a non-profit organization that is battling food insecurity in the metro Atlanta area. Everyone Eats has recently partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in an attempt to provide healthier and less inexpensive food choices for Atlantans.

According to The Hope Center, Indigenous, Black and Hispanic students face the highest levels of food insecurity in college. There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon, which include that these students are often more negatively impacted by socioeconomic conditions that lead to food insecurity than their white counterparts.

Anthem, a health insurance provider, donated $150,000 to Everyone Eats that allowed the non-profit to obtain a brick-and-mortar location in West Atlanta. This location will eventually be stocked with a community food garden, a soup kitchen and an Anthem food pantry.

With a community garden comes the opportunity for food-insecure people to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, Atlanta has a significant number of food deserts, areas where access to supermarkets and fresh food are low. This makes it harder for impoverished people to have healthy food that will provide them with enough nutrients.

Use of the term “food insecurity” is appropriate, because the problem is not only about the uncertainty of where a person’s next meal will come from; the term also applies to the level of actual nutritional value found in fast food or other easily accessible foods in certain communities. Sustaining a diet consisting primarily of processed food leads to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Efforts such as Everyone Eats’ community garden will allow people to not only have healthy food choices, but will also develop gardening skills among those in the community.

“Food insecurity is a major social driver of health,” said Robert Bunch, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “Our mission is to improve lives and communities, and to do that our focus is on improving the whole health of a person.”

According to Joy Getz, a dietitian at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, food-insecure people spend more money on healthcare because of health conditions brought on by diets that often involve high-salt or high-sugar foods. 

The money being spent on healthcare would make it even more difficult for impoverished, food-insecure people to afford healthy food. Compounding this problem is the fact that gas prices are escalating, which becomes an issue when individuals are required to drive long distances to supermarkets that provide healthy food choices. Yet another problem is the rising costs involved in purchasing healthier food options.

Everyone Eats has helped more than 32,000 families with various volunteer work and food deliveries. 

Johnson is aware of how poor food choices can adversely affect people’s health, and have a negative impact on communities overall. With Everyone Eats, she has committed to fighting against food-insecure communities.

“This type of support will allow us to further our mission of providing critical resources to communities in need,” she said.