The most important themes in food security work today are understanding that, first, the root cause of food insecurity is poverty, driven by systemic racism, and second, it’s important to respect the reality of organizations addressing these issues on the ground and “decolonize philanthropy” by giving in ways that acknowledge complex and ingrained power dynamics and the skills, knowledge, and capacity of local actors.
Ultimately, we know how to solve the problem of hunger in our communities, and there are in fact many solutions in terms of strategies, technologies, and infrastructure. Food insecurity is fundamentally a resource distribution issue – some people don’t have money to buy food because of systemic inequality and racism. The organizations that are trying to address this require consistent access to resources over the long term. Funding should be directed to organizations that are providing basic needs, without requiring “innovation” or shiny new programs. Food sovereignty – wherein communities are in control of their own resources and able to meet their own needs – is essential to fundamentally addressing our unequal food system.
We have to look holistically at how to make our communities more resilient, not only in terms of food, but in relationship to all of our collective systems that support well being. For further reading and ideas about next steps, an article that does an excellent job encompassing some of these issues and positing very pragmatic, solutions based strategies can be found here: Why We Need a Public Food Sector
Blog Content provided by Eva Agudelo (she/her/hers)
Eva has worked with beginning farmers, restaurants, retailers, farmers markets, nonprofits, and hunger relief agencies to improve community food security and bring about a food system that works for everyone. Eva started the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative through the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project; served as a FINI (now GusNIP) program officer at Wholesome Wave, supporting incentive programs at farmers markets across the US; and most recently was the Assistant Director of Programs at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, administering federal nutrition programs and supporting Rhode Island’s statewide network of food pantries and meal sites. She holds an M.S. from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, is a former member of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC) and sits on the board of Osamequin Farm.
In 2018, Eva founded the nonprofit Hope’s Harvest RI, which improves the livelihoods of local farmers, increases food security for our most vulnerable residents, and gets everyone engaged in strengthening the food system by eliminating on-farm food waste. As Rhode Island’s first statewide farm-based food rescue program dedicated to securing the supply chain of fresh local produce to hunger relief agencies, Hope’s Harvest coordinates a strong network of volunteers, farmers, and food pantries to recover local produce and distribute it to neighbors in need.