From "The Fight for Food Access: Leaders of the Movement" (Ecocentric Blog: July 28, 2015)
By: Audrey Jenkins (Program Assistant, GRACE's Food Program), Gabrielle Blavatsky (Policy Analyst, GRACE's Food Program)
Millions of Americans struggle to access healthful foods on a daily basis. In our last post, we discussed the reasons so many people experience food insecurity and how lack of access to good food impacts everyone in the United States—making it impossible for us to achieve true sustainability. The good news is that many organizations and programs are working to help solve this problem (although we are nowhere near eliminating food insecurity in the US).
Who Is Leading the Movement
Efforts to bolster sustainable food access must be led by the people who are most heavily impacted by food insecurity. Listening to the needs of people with the most experience dealing with food insecurity enables organizers to effectively target the problems they face. Food access organizations do this at both the national level and in local communities by tackling a wide range of issues, including breaking down barriers to land for farming and gardening, educating people about food and agriculture, creating programs that reduce the cost of healthful food for marginalized communities and advocating for policies that establish long-lasting food equity and sustainability in the US.
While our final post in this series will offer ideas on how anyone can get involved to end food insecurity in America, here are some examples of efforts currently underway. These national and local organizations and programs, along with countless grassroots efforts throughout the country, work to improve access to food and strengthen local food systems for everyone.
Emergency Feeding Programs
Unfortunately, even when Americans can physically access fresh fruits and vegetables, they often still can’t buy the produce they want because it’s just too expensive. Emergency feeding programs like food banks and soup kitchens are a lifeline for the millions of hungry families struggling to make ends meet. Some of these include:
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, National: Ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.
Just Food’s Local Produce Link, New York, NY: Connects local, family farmers with emergency food providers in order to bring farm-fresh produce to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the city. In 2014, Just Food worked with eight regional farmers and 49 emergency food programs in all five boroughs of New York City to deliver over 280,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to the city's most vulnerable residents.
Meals on Wheels, National: The oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. Meals on Wheels provides daily free to low cost meals, friendly visits and safety checks for senior citizens.