Let’s just feed people instead of using profit and red tape as excuses
Wasting food and not being able to get a good meal should not occur at the same time in the United States.
Guest: Gina Smith, Program Coordinator, Asheville Buncombe County Food Policy Council.
Urban renewal has led to generations of people into food insecurity without support from the government or business, which created the situation to help them get out.
We waste food we don’t use or like the look of and make it hard to build and maintain community grades for the people who would use that food.
We don’t need a pandemic or catastrophe to improve how we take care of people’s most basic need — nutrition.
ONE group is advocating to end food waste AND AT THE SAME TIME for more food autonomy and security
That means people are unnecessarily not getting basic nutrition.
That is inefficient and inequitable. Hungry and malnourished people are more likely to get sick, which drives up healthcare costs for everyone, commit crimes, and be less productive.
Most of the food waste occurs in the commercial sector: groceries, farms, caters, cafeterias.
We waste a significant amount of food in our homes.
Government is not advocating for eliminating food insecurity with funding.
It doesn’t make sense, and it’s just not right.
People who live with food insecurity are ready to make themselves food secure.
Let’s help connect the food we waste with the millions of people who don’t have healthy meals.
Why are low-income people left with emergency food plans when there is plenty of food?
Returning Food Security to Historically Black Communities
Urban renewal policies made historically black communities food insecure.
Before urban renewal programs moved Black people to public housing, they maintained gardens, had markets, and shared food.
Public housing rules forbid gardens, to the point where maintenance workers sprayed them with herbicides.
Over the years, Black people — and Americans in general — lost knowledge about how to grow and prepare food,
Much of our society is not self-sufficient when it comes to food and is completely dependent on what is available in their local stores on the food industry to feed us.
Reduce Food Waste
61 percent of food waste is related to commercial operations: farms, restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias, caterers. For example, Grocery stores may not buy good fruit because it was slightly damaged in a storm, or a caterer may throw away extra meals not used for a reunion.
The other 39 percent occurs in our hones
Emergency food preparedness policy
Food shortages during the pandemic raised questions.
What are we going to do if there is another pandemic or food supply crisis?
Do we have a communications network, e.g. block captains who are responsible for organizing and mobilizing neighborhoods?
Where are we going to store food during an emergency?
The city contracted with the Policy Council to develop food-specific emergency plans, e.g. setting up and maintaining food pantries in food insecure neighborhoods.
Community members, businesses, churches, anyone, contributes food and needed items.
People don’t need to file any paperwork to visit the pantries
They just go and get what they need
The entire system works against good food policy
Food stores won’t sell blemished food, and do not open stores in low-income areas because they are expensive to set up and run, so it is hard to make a profit in a low-income area.
Government needs revenue, but taxes are hard to raise for things like compost programs
The government has set up a complex set of rules and bureaucracy that make it difficult to navigate to get approval for things like community gardens or refrigerators for community food programs,
Media talks about fun, charitable, food-related events, not about food waste that happens despite people needing healthier food.
People do not have time to fight through the red tape because they have jobs and families.
Community members — often most of them — don’t trust the government because it has never helped them before.
Choose to feed people instead of making excuses to not do it
Food Policy and Waste Programs
Re-introduce teaching school kids how to make their own meals and use all of the food.
Offer incentives to buy and help distribute food from farmers that grocers won’t buy
Figure out a way to provide healthy food to rural and poor communities and just do it, regardless of profit.
Fund infrastructure for compost programs that pick up and process food scraps, turn them into compost, and distribute the compost.
Eliminate rules and processes that prevent communities from starting and managing their own food gardens and markets.
Individual Choices and New Habits
Stop accepting bureaucracy that gets in the way of feeding people, which has positive side effects, health, productivity, less waste/methane?
Pay taxes to improve the food system to be a healthier more equitable one
Don’t throw food into the trash. Use scraps. Compost the rest.
Find new recipes for using food scraps like making broth by re-using chicken bones and carrot peelings.
Demand composting from your local government
Buy less and accept that imperfect-looking food is perfectly healthy
Pay attention to food-related issues in your area on social, local, and national media
Join local food policy councils or food waste groups. They need citizen representatives
Attend local food access events like a chef's challenge among local chefs who compete by preparing dishes with food that would otherwise be thrown away.
Self-sufficient people, who will be more productive and healthy, which can reduce healthcare costs and social problems like crime and drug abuse.
Optimized food system by aligning demand with supply. Reduced negative outcomes of food waste disposal: Turn compost into fertilizer, which reduces what goes into landfills, and therefore cuts methane gas emissions, which contributes to climate change.
Taxes may go up, but social costs, e.g. drug use, crime, healthcare premiums, could decline, which could offset any tax increases.