US Food Banks Struggle To Feed Hungry Amid Surging Prices

Oakland, CA — U.S. food banks already dealing with increased demand from families sidelined by the pandemic now face a new challenge — surging food prices and supply chain issues walloping the nation.

The higher costs and limited availability mean some families may get smaller servings or substitutions for staples such as peanut butter, which costs nearly double what it did a year ago. As holidays approach, some food banks worry they won’t have enough stuffing and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“What happens when food prices go up is food insecurity for those who are experiencing it just gets worse,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the efforts of more than 200 food banks across the country.

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Mutual Aid Goes Mainstream

Last spring, within hours of the University of Chicago’s announcement that classes would be held online, students created a Facebook group to coordinate mutual aid efforts. Even with finals right around the corner, UChicago Mutual Aid came alive with activity. Students eagerly offered and accepted support in the form of advice, essential supplies like food and moving boxes, and spreadsheets listing leads on resources like housing. 

What I witnessed at my college was just one example of the many mutual aid networks, both college-based and non-college-based, that sprung up across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual aid, a radical practice that has been undertaken by marginalized groups for decades, became a mainstream buzzword almost overnight.

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Hunger Stalks The United States

According to the United Nations, the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Yet this year, even in the United States, the world’s richest country, 1 in 3 American families with kids went hungry. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, official statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailed that 35 million people went hungry–10 million of them children.

The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged the situation, exposing even those who felt “secure” to the possibility of going without eating. In a society where food is not a human right but a good to be purchased, how were people supposed to eat if they couldn’t work?

The short answer: they didn’t. Receiving almost no help from the federal government, working people in the United States were laid off by the millions.

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2021 Climate Disasters Raise Alarm Over Food Security

In July, A Video Went Viral On Social Media In Argentina Showing People Walking Across What Looks Like A Desert. But It Isn’t A Desert. This Is The Bed Of The Paraná River, Part Of The Second-Largest River System In South America. Normally The Stream Rises In Brazil And Reaches The Sea Via The River Plate, Draining A Vast Watershed Covering All Of Paraguay, Southern Brazil And Northern Argentina. Normally The Water Volume Flowing To The Atlantic Roughly Equals That Of The Mississippi River.

What’s Happening Now Is Not Normal. The Drying Up Of Large Stretches Of River Comes As The Most Severe Drought Since 1944 Afflicts The Region. No Relief Is Expected In The Short Term. According To Forecasts From Argentina’s Ministry Of Public Works, The Lack Of Rain Will Last For At Least Another Three Months.

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Every Region Of The World Is The Worst Affected

Each month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) releases a monthly food price index. The release on 3 June showed that food prices have surged by 40%, the largest rise since 2011. The impact of this food price rise will grievously hit developing countries, most of whom are major importers of food staples.

Prices rise for a range of reasons, the current rise largely fuelled by the collapse of sizeable sections of the global economy during the pandemic. Warnings of general inflation due to lockdown-related pent-up demand, shipping bottlenecks, and oil price increases loom over richer states, which – due to the power of the wealthy bondholders – have few tools to manage inflation, and by poorer states, which swirl in a cataclysmic debt crisis.

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Portraits Of Houston’s Black Urban Farmers

Texas is home to more Black farmers than any state. The USDA’s Census of Agriculture estimated in 2017 that of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States, roughly 48,000 are Black, and nearly a quarter of them are located in the Lone Star State. 

The number of Black folks sinking their hands into Texas soil, however, used to be much larger. The early 1900s witnessed the terrors of Jim Crow, which ran Black families in Texas off of their own land. The societal and business practices of the 1950s didn’t allow Black farmers access to the fields and credit necessary to keep their farms afloat, and by the 1980s, an estimated 170 farms a week were being forced into foreclosure, most of them Black-owned. 

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Women Lead, Resist And Thrive – Even In The Midst Of Crises

The past decade, particularly 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, has shone a light on the full extent of existing inequalities in the world. Ahead of this International Women’s Day, we would like to draw attention to ways that women – whether Indigenous, rural workers or those enduring an occupation – resist and mobilise in the face of multiple, long-term crises. Existing patriarchal systems, structural inequalities and discriminatory laws have long stalled meaningful progress towards gender equality and women’s rights. For women living in crises such as conflicts, facing recurrent environmental disasters and cyclical financial shocks, the Covid-19 pandemic has come as an additional blow, severely impacting their right to adequate food.

Conflict is a key and persistent driver of food system breakdown: more than half of undernourished people live in countries experiencing conflict. Extreme weather, economic shocks and climate change are also prevalent drivers of food crises and greatly affect food systems.

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This City Makes Sure No One Goes Hungry

Nestled on a wide plateau surrounded by the Espinhaço Mountains in southeastern Brazil is the city of Belo Horizonte, roughly 275 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. The city of 2.5 million is an industrial and technological hub, which had historically led to stark socioeconomic divisions, including high rates of poverty. But while other similarly situated cities around the globe struggle to meet the basic needs of their residents, Belo Horizonte pioneered a food security system that has effectively eliminated hunger in the city. The entire program requires less than 2% of the city’s annual budget.

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Research Project Gave Homeless People $7,500 Each

The results of a B.C. research project that gave thousands of dollars to homeless people are in and, according to one researcher, could challenge stereotypes about people “living on the margins.”

The New Leaf project is a joint study started in 2018 by Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and the University of British Columbia. After giving homeless Lower Mainland residents cash payments of $7,500, researchers checked on them over a year to see how they were faring.

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Solidarity Gardens Launched To Address Food Disruption And Insecurity

Champaign-Urbana, IL – Individuals and organizations are encouraged and empowered to plant gardens throughout the Champaign-Urbana area and donate use of land, garden supplies, and expertise through a newly launched initiative, Solidarity Gardens CU, in order to address food disruptions and insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Modeled after the WWII-era Victory Gardens, Solidarity Gardens is being launched on June 3, 2020 by a network of area organizations and individuals throughout the Champaign-Urbana area.

With help from the broader community, Solidarity Gardens CU will be offering free seeds, seedlings, tools, soil, containers, miscellaneous supplies, gardening expertise, and educational resources to any interested party in the Champaign-Urbana area, and will then collect, process, and redistribute…

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How Permaculture Can Build Resilience And Meet Basic Needs

Despite their urgency, coronavirus outbreaks, health crises and failing institutions are just some of the problems our global society is facing today. Billions of people worldwide still lack access to healthy food, clean water and sanitation services — being unable to properly wash hands and stay safe in the midst of a pandemic. And we are still trapped in an economic system that fuels environmental damage, from biodiversity loss to climate change, which is threatening the quality and sustainability of life on Earth.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we rethink and redesign our modes of living and doing things in society. Permaculture, or “permanent culture” systems thinking, a set of ethical principles and DIY techniques, conceptualized by Australian scientist Bill Mollison, provides a way forward to address those issues.

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Addressing Food Insecurity In Northeast Oklahoma

Many of us are lucky enough that we do not have to worry about where our next meal will come from. Unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed. That is why Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma food banks and other organizations across the state are building partnerships to address this problem. October marks the beginning of the annual Feeding Oklahoma Drive, a month-long campaign to support the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation Businesses is a lead sponsor of this campaign.

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How Climate Change Impacts Poor People

“Climate change affects everybody.” You’ll hear this from time to time, particularly when someone is trying to advocate action on a global scale. It’s a way of binding us to a collective issue — letting us know that we’re all in this together, so we might as well work together to resolve it. After all, climate change is, by definition, a worldwide phenomenon and issue. The more global temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, the stranger and less predictable the weather will get for all of us.

It is not true, however, to assume that climate change affects us all equally. Those living in poverty find themselves particularly impacted by the changes associated with the rising tides and temperatures.

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Africa’s Dividing Farmlands A Threat To Food Security

By Miriam Gathigah for IPS – NAIROBI, Sep 10 2014 (IPS) – When Kiprui Kibet pictures his future as a maize farmer in the fertile Uasin Gishu county in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, all he sees is the ever-decreasing plot of land that he has to farm on. “I used to farm on 40 hectares but now I only have 0.8 hectares. My father had 10 sons and we all wanted to own a piece of the farmland. Subdivision … ate into the actual farmland,” Kibet tells IPS. “From 3,200 bags a harvest, now I only produce 20 bags, at times even less.”

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Boulder To Transition Away From Growing GE Crops

By Boulder County Commissioner’s Office. Boulder County, Colo. – At a public meeting today, the County Commissioners directed county Parks and Open Space staff to work with local farmers to develop a transition plan for phasing out the use of genetically engineered (GE) corn and sugarbeets on County Parks and Open Space agricultural lands within a time frame of 3 to 7 years, and for staff to bring a recommendation on the transition plan back for consideration as soon as practicable. Additionally, the Board expressed a preference for phasing out the use of neonicotinoids and greatly reducing the use of herbicides and pesticides on county-owned open space lands.

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) further provided direction to staff to develop a work plan that includes the continued monitoring of soil health, water quality, and pollinator health on Boulder County agricultural land, and that also looks at developing an Agricultural Research Station in Boulder County, and studies other identified barriers to successful local farming in Boulder County.

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