Organizations fight hunger on local and national levels

first_imgFood waste and food insecurity has been addressed by organizations at national and local levels. Food Recovery Network is a national nonprofit organization that works to reduce food waste and fight hunger by working with colleges and universities to recover food that would otherwise go to waste from campus dining halls. The organization’s goal is to change the norm from food waste to food recovery in the United States.“Fifty percent of FRN’s mission is reducing food waste because it is such a widespread problem across the whole earth, but also specifically in America,” said Ormond. One arm of the FRN is its college chapters. These chapters are located at universities including TCU and charged with addressing the issues of food waste in their own communities. In a normal semester, TCU’s chapter of Food Recovery Network picked up food three times a week from campus dining locations and delivered it to the Northside Inter-Community Agency and Union Gospel Mission. Due to COVID-19, the students are no longer allowed to leave campus to deliver the food.The organization hopes to begin deliveries again this spring. PlayPlayPauseSeek0% buffered00:00Current time00:00Toggle MuteVolumeToggle CaptionsToggle FullscreenWhy so much waste?One professor thinks that America’s food waste problem could stem from the idea of American exceptionalism. Dr. Milind Thakar is a professor of international relations at the University of Indianapolis who teaches American exceptionalism as a part of his classes in comparative politics and international relations.American exceptionalism, in its original form, is the idea that America’s unique democratic governing system and ideals of individual freedom prevent the nation from falling to corruption, said Ian Tyrrell, a former history professor noted for his research on the subject.    In a 1630 sermon by John Winthrop, the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, he referred to the English Protestant community colonizing America as a “city on a hill.” Ronald Reagan later quoted the expression, calling America a “shining city on a hill” in his 1989 farewell address.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)Reagan’s speech disregarded the exceptionalism belief that America’s special governing system exhibits an “exception,” and instead implied that America is “exceptional” compared to other countries, Tyrrell said. As a result, the latter has become the more widely accepted idea in modern day America.This newfound essence of American exceptionalism has produced a national ignorance toward widespread and severe issues in the U.S., especially hunger.Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg considers this a case of cognitive dissonance because the thought of people suffering from hunger does not align with the American cultural belief that says all things are “happy and good.” “It’s very uncomfortable for people to think about the levels of persistent structural hunger and poverty in America,” Berg said. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)The issue has become even more prevalent as the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated hunger issues in America. “If we were watching this about another country, we would have to explain how that is a third world country to our kids,” said celebrity chef Tom Colicchio at a Hunger Free America press conference. “But no, this is America, and it is happening here, to us, to our neighbors or even family members who are afraid to say something.”Thakar said he blames this perception on the American media and Hollywood. In news and movies alike, any portrayal of a developing country focuses primarily on extremely poor and hungry people, convincing Americans that such problems can’t occur in their established and wealthy country, Thakar said.  As the dissonance continues, so will the lack of urgency to establish policies regarding food waste in America. “No one ever asked to get born into poverty,” said Colicchio. “It’s not just about getting a job or having [fewer] kids, we (Americans) need to have a better sense of empathy.” Hunger Free America has a planSpecialist Yadira Izaguirre of the California National Guard picks up case of soup that will be packed with other food stuff supplies at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 21, 2020. Food banks have been hit hard by a shortage of volunteers due to the mandatory stay-at-home order caused by the coronavirus. Izaguirre and other members of the 115th Regional Support Group are supplementing food bank staff to ensure the food bank continues provide food to those in need. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Corpl. James Bates carries a box of groceries to a car at a food bank distribution by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)Tommy Barnes, 14, picks up a free meal at GoodFellas Barbecue Restaurant, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The restaurant is serving about 200 free meals to children per day. The meals feed the kids in the community who have depended on food at school but because of the coronavirus haven’t been able to get their lunches. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)A man picks up food from Masbia Soup Kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Specialist Yadira Izaguirre of the California National Guard picks up case of soup that will be packed with other food stuff supplies at the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 21, 2020. Food banks have been hit hard by a shortage of volunteers due to the mandatory stay-at-home order caused by the coronavirus. Izaguirre and other members of the 115th Regional Support Group are supplementing food bank staff to ensure the food bank continues provide food to those in need. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Corpl. James Bates carries a box of groceries to a car at a food bank distribution by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)Tommy Barnes, 14, picks up a free meal at GoodFellas Barbecue Restaurant, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The restaurant is serving about 200 free meals to children per day. The meals feed the kids in the community who have depended on food at school but because of the coronavirus haven’t been able to get their lunches. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)A man picks up food from Masbia Soup Kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)Hunger Free America is working to fight the “biggest hunger crisis” the United States has faced in modern times, said Berg. With hunger levels continuing to rise, partly due to the pandemic, Berg and his team at Hunger Free America have created a comprehensive 35-page plan on how to address the hunger crisis in America. Berg said the group intends to work with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to ensure the plan is executed. While soup kitchens and food pantries nationwide have done “heroic” and “incredible” work, they have only been able to scratch the surface with hunger in America, said Berg at a HFA press conference on Nov. 25.Photo: Gemini Middle School staff and employees of Arbor food management services prepare meals for students, families, and members of the community to pick up in Niles, Ill., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Districts 63 and 207 provide meals each week for all children under the age of 18 during school closure from the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)The problem won’t be fixed overnight, but “much of it can be done very quickly by raising wages, creating jobs and dramatically boosting the safety net,” Berg said.Hunger Free America did groundbreaking research among low-income Americans of all races and political affiliations from rural, urban and suburban backgrounds. The research found very broad support for policies that would hike the minimum wage, guarantee living-wage jobs for all adults, increase SNAP spending, make quality houses and health care affordable and eliminate the so-called hunger cliff. Bipartisanship may bring the nation closer to fixing the issue, said Jeremy Everett, the director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. Both Berg and Everett support the idea that working together will help combat hunger, but they also believe a plan must be put into place that can be carried into the future.(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)“Hunger is a political condition,” said Rep. Jim McGovern. “We have the food, we have the money, we have the resources, everything we need to solve this problem, except the political will. And my hope is working with the new Biden and Harris administration we will be able to make addressing hunger a top priority.”While Berg suggests supplying more jobs to those that are in poverty and raising the minimum wage in states where it is low, Everett backs a plan involving  government and community outreach.“In states like Texas, if we can build an efficient and effective way of addressing food insecurity and hunger with a public and private implementation, then Texas government officials will be typically okay with that,” said Everett.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Another way to address the issue involves listening to the people that face hunger day-in and day-out. HFA Community Empowerment Manager Barbara Izquierdo is an advocate for low-income communities experiencing food insecurities because that is where grew up and continues to live. Izquierdo helped organize focus groups where people who are experiencing food insecurity can contribute to these much-needed conversations. “Hunger Free America has embraced the insight of people who feel counted out and have ultimately used their platform to help low-income people feel represented,” said Izquierdo. Hunger is an issue that has been prevalent in American society since the Great Depression, and COVID-19 complications only add to the increasing risk of widespread poverty in the country.“Since the pandemic, I’ve spent time all across New York visiting food pantries,” said Sen. Kristen Gillibrand.  “And I can tell you that the families across New York that I’ve spoken to are suffering: they are afraid, anxious, they don’t have enough food to put on the table and their children are going to bed hungry.” A woman and child pick up food at a distribution site outside City Hall, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Chelsea, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)A woman and child pick up food at a distribution site outside City Hall, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Chelsea, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) TopBuilt with Shorthand NewsCommunityIn-depth reportingMultimediaTop StoriesOrganizations fight hunger on local and national levelsBy Haeven Gibbons – January 27, 2021 1217 Twitter Linkedin Haeven Gibbonshttps://www.tcu360.com/author/haeven-gibbons/ Twitter World Oceans Day shines spotlight on marine plastic pollution ReddIt ReddIt Haeven Gibbons TCU places second in the National Student Advertising Competition, the highest in school history RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Grains to grocery: One bread maker brings together farmers and artisans at locally-sourced store Vintage fever: Fort Worth residents and vintage connoisseurs talk about their passion for thrifting Image Magazine: Spring 2021center_img printWhy so much food insecurity in America?Hunger Free America has a planOrganizations fight hunger on local and national levelsHunger in America: Part 3By Haeven Gibbons(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)This report was compiled using reporting done by students enrolled in JOUR 30204 035/065, fall semester 2020. Working in teams, students explored the issue of hunger in America through the Fault Lines of class, generation, geography, gender, sexual orientation and race. They focused on Tarrant County, Texas.  The classes included: Charles Baggarly, Leah Bolling, Molly Boyce, Haley Cabrera, Connor Cash, Brian Contreras, Cole DeLuca, Larry Flores, Kaitlyn Freetag, Caroline Garland, Andre Giammattei, Haeven Gibbons, Logan Gibbs, Kiana Giddings, Stephanie Joynt, Ben Kasper, Samantha Knapp, Molly Kuhl, Shaina Looker, Lucie Lundquist, Hailey Lyon, Derek Lytle, Cole Marchi, Morgan McBride, Angelica Menjivar, Raines Nagel, Tyresa Oluyide, Joey Palmeri, Collin Pittman, Colin Post, Braden Roux, Oscar Saravia, Matthew Sgroi, Asia Soliday, Branisha Spincer, Sophia Stellas, Charlotte Tomlinson, Sophia Vandewark.Hunger is not just fought at the federal level. Across the country, cities like Fort Worth are working to ensure that residents have enough food to eat. One of the biggest ways that hunger can manifest in local communities is through a lack of access to fresh food. These areas have been deemed “food deserts” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and do not have sufficient and affordable access to food in their proximity. Eleven zip codes in Tarrant County have been deemed food deserts and the city government is working to help these communities increase their access to fresh food and grocery stores. Fort Worth implements ordinance to combat food insecurityIn December of 2019, the city of Fort Worth elected to pass regulations on new dollar stores to reduce the saturation of stores in Tarrant County that do not provide communities with access to adequate fresh and healthy food. “It is a really good first step at looking at how we reduce the saturation of dollar-type stores in East and Southeast Fort Worth, and the next step would be to work with one of these stores to actually pilot that program so that other stores can see that that program is successful,” said D.J. Harrell, the director of developmental services for the city of Fort Worth.Harrell said the term “dollar store” refers to “small box discount stores” that have a shopping area less than 10,000 square feet and sell a variety of home and personal goods along with food and beverages. Key to the definition of these stores is that they dedicate less than 15% of their space for fresh food and vegetables.Tarrant County Food DesertsThe map shows (in dark purple) the 11 zip codes in Tarrant County that have been deemed ‘food deserts’ by the USDA. The zip codes include: 76010, 76013, 76014, 76018, 76105, 76108, 76114, 76131, 76134, 76140 and 76179 Chart: Tarrant County Food desert Project; Source: USDAThe map shows (in dark purple) the 11 zip codes in Tarrant County that have been deemed ‘food deserts’ by the USDA. The zip codes include: 76010, 76013, 76014, 76018, 76105, 76108, 76114, 76131, 76134, 76140 and 76179 Chart: Tarrant County Food desert Project; Source: USDAAcross Tarrant County, many of the areas designated by the USDA as food deserts have been deemed so because dollar stores are the only access residents have to food and beverages.“The inadequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a key issue that the city of Fort Worth hopes to solve with initiatives like the dollar store ordinance as well as other programs to work with existing stores in hopes of increasing access,” Harrell said.The biggest challenge food insecure individuals face is not getting an appropriate amount of healthy food items, said Alex Lipari, director of The Net Center. Low-income people often eat a diet consisting of sugar, carbs and low-grade meat which has a negative impact on their mental, emotional and physical health, Lipari said.Harrell explained the proliferation of dollar stores in rural and underserved communities creates an environment where residents are forced to eat unhealthy foods that lack proper nutrition. That’s why the existence of free and reduced lunch programs is so important for these communities — they are often the only access some children get to healthy foods.The passage of the dollar store ordinance is the first step the city of Fort Worth has taken to combat the existence of food insecurity across the county. Photo 1- (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)Photo 2- (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)Food insecurity & food wasteAnother way to address food insecurity on a larger scale is to address food waste. “There is no reason people should be going hungry in this country. We should be able to feed everybody at a minimum,” said Kumar Venkat, president and CTO at CleanMetrics. The problem goes back to food waste at the institutional level. Food that could be saved and used to feed people is thrown out instead, he said.The United States has more than enough food to feed everyone. But each year, millions of people are food insecure and billions of pounds of food are wasted, according to Feeding America.Not having access to enough food to lead an active, healthy lifestyle can be due to financial challenges at the consumer level, but food insecurity goes beyond the consumer, rooting itself in systems and problems that allow it to continue. Food waste, which occurs at all levels of the food consumption and distribution process, perpetuates food insecurity.  In the United States, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted at the retail and consumer levels, according to the USDA. This adds up to approximately 72 billion pounds and $218 billion worth of food ending up in landfills and incinerators every year, according to Feeding America.Feeding America and its network of food banks rescued 3.6 billion pounds of food in 2019. While significant, this only makes up a small percent of the food that is wasted.“America’s agricultural system is not the most sustainable,” said Julia Ormond, advocacy and outreach fellow with Food Recovery Network National. There is food loss at every stage of the food production and distribution system.According to Feeding America, if food was recovered instead of thrown out, there would be more food available to feed families facing hunger and the environment would benefit as well. 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