Understanding Food Insecurity: A Giving Tuesday Interview with Katie Fehlinger

Katie Fehlinger is making a difference this Giving Tuesday.

Who doesn’t know Katie Fehlinger? If you live in the Greater Philadelphia region, ever listened to KYW News Radio or Philadelphia 1210 AM on your way to work in the morning, or tuned in to see the weather forecast at CBS3 Philadelphia, you definitely know Katie Fehlinger. A familiar and incredibly friendly face to millions of households in the South Jersey region, Katie told the Delaware Valley when to bring an umbrella to work, get the snow shovel ready or stock up on sunscreen as meteorologist with CBS3 Philadelphia for eight years, until this past September. Wanting to spend more time with her young twin daughters, Katie came to the conclusion it was time to shift gears from waking up to be on the air at 4:30 a.m. each morning, to focusing her energies, talents and time on building family memories, staying up past 8 p.m. weeknights – and embracing and creating new professional opportunities.

Katie Fehlinger is making a difference this Giving Tuesday.

Katie Fehlinger, as a little girl, understood the importance of finishing all her milk and being thankful for the meals her mother could provide. An awareness of food insecurity, for Katie, was part of growing up.

Everyone knows Katie Fehlinger, but did you know Katie was once food insecure?

“I grew up in a poor section of center city Allentown, PA, in a single-parent household. It was me, my brother and Mom – and she struggled. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a rockstar. But she was stuck in her situation – putting herself through community college, working for very little income, doing battle to collect child support, and barely making ends meet so that she could feed me and my brother,” Katie shares. “I’m fortunate that I can feed myself and my family today, but I’m fully aware not only how it feels to be food insecure or on the brink, but also how easily families can fall into difficulty.”

For many families in South Jersey, food insecurity is only one paycheck away.

Hunger and health are deeply connected. People who are food insecure are affected by diet-sensitive chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and according to research, food insecurity is also linked to many adverse effects to overall health. For children, food insecurity is particularly devastating. Not having enough healthy food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity. Research shows an association between food insecurity and delayed development in young children; risk of chronic illnesses like asthma and anemia; and behavioral problems like hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression in school-age children. It’s a simple fact: A child’s chance for a bright tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. Currently, 1 in 7 children may not know where they will get their next meal. For the 11 million kids in the U.S. facing hunger, getting the energy they need to learn and grow can be a daily challenge.

As the mother of beautiful twin girls, the reality of children going hungry deeply resonates with Katie.

“It’s sobering to think just one paycheck can be the difference between groceries or nothing,” Katie shares. “I can remember my Mom firmly telling my brother and me to make sure we made the carton of milk last until Friday because we wouldn’t be able to have more for our cereal before then – and I remember feeling scared by this as a kid. No one, especially children, should have to worry about so basic a need. Yet so many do … and they deserve our help.”

Katie Fehlinger is making a difference this Giving Tuesday.

A friend of the Food Bank of South Jersey, Katie is helping to raise awareness and understanding to the every day disaster of hunger faced by thousands of children, seniors and families throughout the South Jersey region.

“Food is one of our most basic needs, and I think it can be difficult to recognize just how close to home the issue of food insecurity really is – but it’s an issue that really is in each of our own neighborhoods. I learned this lesson from experience as a child, but was reminded of it recently. A social media post I shared about my involvement with the Food Bank of South Jersey prompted a plea for help from one of my most loyal followers. This family had fallen on hard times and they didn’t know where their next meal would come from. These are our neighbors, and they need our help,” Katie shares. “No child should have to worry about what or how they’ll eat today. That’s just heartbreaking in its own right, but the toll food insecurity takes on a child is huge. The impact on their performance in school, socially, physically and mentally holds them back from their potential. We all know our kids are the future. Supporting our little ones, especially those so close to home, is so critical to build up our own communities.”

Will you join Katie this Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is your opportunity to unleash the power of generosity to alleviate hunger in your community! Katie is making a difference this Giving Tuesday. Please join Katie and the Food Bank of South Jersey in helping to feed food-insecure families throughout our region.