From just-squeezed juices to artisan sandwiches to colorful bunches of fresh-picked vegetables, nutritious dietary offerings have never been so bountiful or convenient for affluent Americans. They can legitimately browse for gourmet-quality dinners inside local supermarkets as well as convenience stores or trendy “small box” neighborhood groceries.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for some 23.5 million largely underserved U.S. residents who live in “food deserts,” areas where grocery stores are absent and food options frequently range from fast food to corner mini-marts, where chips, soda pop, candy, cakes and snack packs are more likely to line the shelves than fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meat; whole-grain bread, pasta and cereal; or high-quality dairy and all-fruit juice drinks. Many food desert residents, without access to foodstuffs that allow them to eat three full, nutritious meals a day, regularly lack food security.
Social entrepreneurs Jessamyn W. Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen and Brahm Ahmadi, co-founder of People’s Grocery and People’s Community Market discuss running mission-driven companies in urban communities. Event moderated by Mark Bomford, Director of the Yale Sustainable Food Program.
With the ever-increasing interest in local food and urban agriculture, it’s easy to understand the growing popularity of community gardens. A new survey from GrowNYC shows that New York City’s community gardens are helping to create more sustainable neighborhoods. Of the gardens surveyed, a whopping 80 percent produce food for their community, 65 percent compost, and 43 partner with at least one school!
But WRAL and Radio One Raleigh are hoping to change that by creating awareness about the issue and raising funds for community hunger relief. WRAL is Capitol Broadcasting’s CBS affiliate while Radio One Raleigh is the leading regional urban music specialist.
“This is about using the power of the media for good,” says Steven Hammel, WRAL’s general manager.
It’s a hard reality to face, but currently millions of people across North America are experiencing some form of food deprivation or food insecurity. Stigma is still attached to those who must use food banks to obtain a sufficient quantity of nutritious food.
Myth #5: The number of people using food banks is declining.We’d all like this to be true, but it’s not, sadly enough. According to HungerCounts 2014, food banks are used by a wide range of Canadians, including children and families, single people, and workers. The Hunger in America 2014 study shows that poverty remains intractable, with 247,000 local residents turned to The Greater Cleveland Food Bank. “While the recession has ended, this study indicates that more people are food-insecure than were four years ago, when the last Hunger in America study was conducted,” says Sullivan. “We must continue to expand our programs and provide the resources for more meals in our community.”
Open Door is among the many food pantries across the state that are adding walk-in refrigerators, freezers, and even gardens to provide healthier foods, spending thousands of dollars to remodel facilities long configured to distribute cans and boxes of processed foods.
Open Door, for example, installed a walk-in cooler in March to hold hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables and constructed an adjacent room that will soon be fitted with sinks and stainless steel tables so workers can sort, wash, and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as they are delivered.
Americans on food stamps spent a record $18.8 million at farmers markets and local farm stands last year, a roughly sixfold increase since 2008, according to Concannon. Some of that increase was due to low-income families having more access to fresh produce.
“It is a tragedy that up to 2 billion tons of food produced around the world is lost or wasted never making it on to a plate,” said Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, whose products range from Magnum ice creams to Dove cosmetics.
“At a time of growing food insecurity and climate change, we can’t afford to let this continue.”
Food security is as much a moral and political issue as it is defined by markets and international agreements, and businesses have an important contribution to make by using their know-how to increase efficiency in the global agricultural market, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said during the keynote address at AgriVision 2015, a conference that facilitates an informed discussion at a strategic level on current and future concerns in the protein food chain.
The Cities of Service Community Tables blueprint is part of an anti-hunger initiative the ConAgra Foods Foundation will launch later this year to advance communities’ efforts to address hunger in their own backyards. The Community Tables blueprint outlines steps required for success and urges cities to work with citizen volunteers who can provide critical support to schools and community organizations by canvassing and performing outreach, helping to prepare and serve meals, and providing enrichment activities for children — so that more youth benefit from an important resource.
“At the lower economic rungs particularly, people are forced into bad decisions due to economics because calories are cheap and nutrients are expensive. The foundation of Daily Table was to try to figure out how on earth do we deliver to these one in six Americans an affordable, nutritious diet?” Rauch said. “And the obvious answer was, ‘Well, why don’t we try to utilize some of this excess food which we can get donated that’s perfectly wholesome and healthy?’”
A recent UN report on global hunger highlights Bangladesh – a onetime food basket case – for having cut chronic hunger by more than half since 2000.
Four decades ago, the newly formed and desperately poor South Asian nation of Bangladesh saw its already-high levels of extreme poverty and chronic hunger skyrocket with floods, leading to the Bangladesh famine of 1974.
This is the story of how two different nonprofits are adapting a technology framework to reduce food insecurity. 1Family 1Restaurant (1F1R) in California has created a web-based mobile app to connect restaurants to individual food bank donors to feed insecure families. The other nonprofit, Capital Area Food Bank in D.C., is utilizing data mapping to find hungry families that are in the greater suburban area. According to statistics on the 1F1R site, one in six people in America may feel the impact of food insecurity.
More than a third of New York State’s food pantries have had to turn away people in need because they have run out of supplies. Food banks have been demanding an additional $16 million to replenish their stock.An estimated 1.4 million NY state citizens rely on food banks.
According to the Food Bank for New York City, about 2.6 million people (out of a total population of 8.5 million), have trouble affording food throughout NYC.
The promise of a meritocracy is a simple one: Each individual will be compensated in proportion to his or her labor. The abilities, skillsets and opportunities of these individuals may vary, but each can rest assured knowing that honest, hard work will amount to a life in which one’s daily needs are met, with potential for a better future. In a country that promises opportunity, shouldn’t someone who is working hard—sometimes even at multiple jobs—have the assurance of access to healthy food for his or her family?
King calls his mobile market a “grocery store on wheels.” It is a mobile trailer unit surrounded by tents that offers fresh fruits, vegetables, tilapia and even healthy smoothies every Wednesday to Greensboro residents who are suffering from food insecurity.
A far less common practice: Waiting outside a restaurant to weigh all the food that gets tossed out after the diners are done. But that’s exactly how UC Santa Barbara seniors Emilie Wood and Kate Parkinson spent their weekend brunch periods at the campus dining commons, every Saturday and Sunday alike, throughout spring quarter.
The pair has in fact been working much of the academic year to assess and reduce food waste on campus in their shared role as UCSB’s inaugural UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) Fellows. A third GFI fellow, Rachel Rouse, also a UCSB graduating senior, is studying food insecurity and access among the student populations.
Kid President (born Robbie Novak) is using his summer vacation to help other kids who are battling hunger during what should be the most carefree time of year. Partnering with ConAgra, he’s hosting “Tell-A-Thon”s all summer, where people young and old can talk about their efforts to combat hunger in their communities and other topics meant to raise awareness about this issue.