Skip to main content

Reposted from Hunger in America by Avila

Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

"Hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal occurrence that we should be become used to, as if it were part of the system. Something must change in ourselves, in our minds, in our societies."

—Pope Francis, in a World Food Day message to the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

It is truly an honor for me to participate in the Butterfly Woman Blogathon for Food Justice.  Have you read all of the incredible posts in this series, by some of the best writers and advocates imaginable?  I'm going to catch up and I understand, everyone's busy, and there's just not enough time to do all we want to do, for most of us, but this is a series worth your time.  You'll never be sorry that you have read the phenomenal contributions by Daily Kos diarists and some rather extraordinary (and at least one Honorary) guest posters.  

Food justice, as you know, is not an issue we can remain passive about.  That's the insidious nature of hunger in America.  If you haven't known it, someone you know and care about has.  

I'm reminded of a song written by Bruce Springsteen, We Take Care Of Our Own.  You remember this, don't you?  I heard it just after Hurricane Sandy, but I remember, because these words are relevant to just about every problem in the human condition.  

Do we take care of our own?  If we don't, who will?  Before we examine some ways to address the issue of food justice, I'll tell you what "our own" means to me, and I hope that you'll add your definitions in the comments.  

Continue Reading
Reposted from Hunger in America by nomandates

Viewers literally watched a hospitalized child die of starvation in the 1968 CBS TV documentary and the public was outraged. There were 10 million hungry Americans then, and now there are 50 million, in spite of good efforts inspired by the film's revelations.

When public pressure grew, then Senators McGovern (D) and Dole (R) joined forces to tackle this problem. The food stamp program was the highlighted result of congressional effort and for a time the problem seemed to be under control.

But the problem was not to go away. Please read why below the fold.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Hunger in America by nomandates
Hunger in America exists for over 50 million people. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population, including more than 1 in 5 children. This group exists to raise awareness of the complexities of the issue, to consider solutions, and to advocate for change.
In early December I read an interview of billionaire Howard G. Buffett in a Parade article that focused on Buffett's efforts  to lead the way in striking back against hunger in America. In late December I saw this diary from Melanie in IA announcing a new group, Hunger in America. I joined this group eager to write about the efforts by Howard Buffett to curb hunger here in America and to educate others on how hunger, as Buffett says, is challenging our country's soul.
Continue Reading
Reposted from Okiciyap (we help) by Aji

This is going to be quick, dirty, and direct.

I've written at considerable length about how severe the food shortages are generally in our Native communities.  About how many too reservations are food deserts (as, of course, they were originally intended to be).  About how lack of access to nutritious food creates disproportionately deadly impacts on our peoples' health.  About how such shortages compound the equally deadly effects of unimaginable financial poverty and destitution in places like the Dakotas.  I'm not going to rehash all that here; if you want a new appreciation for how blessed your own situation is, just read the information available via some of those links.

Today, I'm simply going to point out that last year, we were afforded an opportunity, by a warrior woman from the Cheyenne River Reservation, to do something about this.  Led by betson08, countless Kossacks stepped up, and helped Georgia Little Shield get the Okiciyap Food Pantry off the ground.  And last winter, people at Cheyenne River who might have starved were able to eat.

Then earlier this year, Georgia herself walked on.  Her sister, Cindy Taylor, stepped up and into the prints of Georgia's moccasins.  Helped again by betson08 (who is also responsible for me writing this diary), and in turn by innumerable other Kossacks who have been buttressing Okiciyap's efforts for months now, Cindy has kept the food pantry open and keeping Cheyenne River's elders, children and families fed.

Across the country, food banks are reporting shortages that are significantly reducing their ability to serve their clients properly.  There are a host of reasons for this, but the most immediate cause is the fact that the federal government is buying significantly less surplus food - the source of much of the food that gets distributed to food banks across the United States.

In 2010, the USDA purchased nearly 500 million pounds of surplus food for such redistribution; in 2011, it bought 421 million pounds (a reduction, true, but a relatively small one).  In 2012, however, USDA purchases have dropped to only 129 million pounds of food - roughly a quarter of what the federal government bought for food banks just two years ago.  

Nowhere is the need more critical than in Indian Country.  And yet, "Indian Country" isn't even on the radar in most states.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by JanF
Map showing which states have low, middle, and high levels of people not being able to afford enough food.
Nearly one in five Americans has not had enough money to buy the food they needed in the past year, a Gallup poll finds. But there are wide disparities from state to state and regionally. In North Dakota, just 9.6 percent of people have lacked enough money for food.
States where residents are most likely to struggle to afford food. Mississippi leads with 24.9% not having enough money, Alabama follows with 22.9%, Delaware with 22.1%, Georgia with 21.6%.
But if you live in Mississippi, there's a 24.9 percent chance that sometime in the past year you haven't been able to buy the food you and your family need. If you live in Alabama, it's a 22.9 percent chance. In all, there are 15 states in which at least one in five people can't always afford enough food.

Many of these people are working. Like the New Hampshire home care worker who walks as much as an hour from appointment to appointment every day, struggling with an inconsistent paycheck and a recent loss of food stamps:

Without the food stamps, she sometimes gets groceries from food pantries, but they don’t provide much of the items she needs most. In a week, she said, she might get one package of meat, enough for a single meal. When food is low, she said, she still tries to provide for the kids.

“I’m the one that’s not eating much,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard because you get dizzy from not eating.”

Or like Cheryl Preston, of Roanoke, Virginia, who writes that since her monthly income was cut by $500, and with her husband's job not always giving him 40 hours of work a week,
There are days I have skipped meals so my husband and son will not. If they notice, I let them think I am fasting. I also water down my juice and milk so that it lasts longer.

I utilize food pantries, but it is not enough. We've had to ration our meals. On more than a few occasions, we were extremely low on food for five or six days until pay day. And, many times, by the end of the night, the amount of food we have consumed during the entirety of the day is what we used to eat in one meal.

Michelle Croy, a student teacher who is now struggling to feed her own family, writes that:
When I was a cashier at Walmart when I was younger, I would see the decisions some senior citizens had to make when it came to buying food or medicine. Their medicine often ranked first so that meant that Vienna sausages and crackers sufficed for the month for sustenance.
At the other end of the age range, many people who can't afford enough food have kids, and that's reflected in the classroom. Three out of five public school teachers say they see kids coming to school hungry, and many teachers report buying food for their students. The hunger situation may get worse in coming months, with food prices expected to rise due to the drought.

Conservative responses to information like this tend to fall along a few predictable tracks. There's the "beans and rice are cheap" argument—if you're hungry, it's because you're wantonly, wastefully trying to have a varied, not totally bland diet. There's the "but I bet these supposedly broke people have a television" argument—one that ignores that, for instance, Cheryl Preston's struggles are recent. Lots of people have televisions and DVD players bought before financial problems hit (or given as gifts, or bought used and cheap).

But the argument we need to hear is that when 18.2 percent of Americans, and 24.9 percent of Mississippians, are hungry sometimes because they can't afford to eat, it's not an individual problem. It's not about household finances, it's about the organization of the national economy. Is this the economy we want, one where a majority of teachers look across the classroom at hungry kids and where mothers and grandmothers are pretending to fast so their family members will have something like enough to eat? Republicans seem to be answering yes, with their opposition to making sure work pays enough to eat by raising the minimum wage, their opposition to rewarding companies that keep jobs here, not ones that ship them overseas, and their opposition to any legislation that would create good jobs. We know how to cut down on poverty and hunger. It's just that one party is standing in the way on purpose.

Reposted from The Underserved by Aji

The good news is that Okiciyap has the Cheyenne River Food Pantry up and running, thanks in large part to over 200 generous donations from Kossacks!

But... (and isn't there always a but?) Okiciyap is up and running, and has ongoing operational expenses now :)  Electric, gas, water and sewer, just like most of us.  So I'm throwing up my challenge grant for this March diary, details below that fleur de kos.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Aji by Aji Editor's Note: Please share widely, & chip in if you can. ~ A -- Aji

I know it's hard out there for everybody right now.  And I know we're all being inundated with requests to help very, very worthy causes.  

But right now, I need to ask for your help for a very special person.  And since it occurred to me that a number of the members of the Kos Katalogue have probably already benefited, as Wings and I have, from Katalogue membership, this might be a way for those of us who can to pay it forward a bit.  I know a lot of folks won't be able to do that; things are just too tight.  But if you think you might be able to spare five bucks, or an item from your inventory, please read on to see how you can help someone who really need the support right now.

A lot of you are already familiar with the name Georgia Little Shield.  She was the founder of Pretty Bird Woman House, and betson08 has a long history of activism here at Daily Kos on behalf of the shelter and other projects.  More recently, betson08 has been helping raise awareness and raise funds for Georgia's most recent project, at Isabel on the Cheyenne River Reservation:  Okiciyap ("We Help," in Lakota).

Okiciyap is a nonprofit organization that is currently establishing a food pantry to feed the reservation's hungry at Isabel (and there are many).  Part of the long-term project plan includes establishing a youth center, in part, to help stem the epidemic of suicides among young people on the rez.  (In upcoming weeks, I'll be posting a diary about that particular issue.)  There are a number of ongoing efforts here to raise funds for Okiciyap, but today, I'm going to ask you for something more personal.  Find out what it is over the jump.

Continue Reading
Reposted from NMRed by Aji Editor's Note: Not precisely FA, but there are major matching $$ available in this diary to help feed Lakota elders and children this winter. Please support and share widely. -- Aji

In hopes it will catch the eye of a few folks who might be able to help. I'm writing this diary and making A CHALLENGE!

Continue Reading

Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 07:00 PM PDT

1 in 6: DIVE. SHARE. FEED.

by boatsie

Zipline passing by the Ferry Building over Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Justin Beck

Friday Evening. 7 PM. I am sitting chilled in a pumpkin field Friday night as the moon rises in a charcoal sky. Face-painted youngsters romp around deep in the yard amidst straw bales and chicken coops and scarecrows.

A white sheet screen stretches taut across the window, a backdrop for the red-caped, garden-gloved, sun-glass-visored Salivation Army warrior Jacquie Phelan to project pictures of her experiences as a gleaner, dumpster diver and chef extraordinaire.  Some 50 of us are on hand for an event hosted by Transition Mill Valley to launch the opening of Grow, the town's new Tam Junction 'sustainability center.'

Phelan is the opening act for the screening of fellow freegan diver Jeremy Seifert's documentary Dive, an infotainment flick promoting his campaign to end food waste in America.

Every year Americans throw away 96 billion pounds of food.

... Besides reemphasizing the need to tackle waste by both promoting composting and/or organic waste-to-energy solutions, and maybe even wasting less food in the first place (hey, I'm an optimist!), the neat thing about framing the problem in these terms is that it reminds us once again that no sustainability issue can be tackled in isolation. Yes, we need to stop waste food on our farms, in our warehouses, in our stores, our businesses and institutions, and in our homes. But we also need to tackle the environmental footprint of how that food was grown in the process. Discarding Food Wastes More Water than Showering

... You needn't be a devoted freegan to appreciate just how much of the food we throw away is still in near-pristine condition. As if wasting all that food weren't bad enough, one can only imagine the vast quantities water that get frittered away worldwide during production (too much). In the U.S. alone, around 40 trillion liters of water (roughly the amount needed to produce 30% of the country's food), enough to supply the needs of 500 million families, are lost every year.Half of All Food Produced Worldwide is Wasted

... 31 million tons is thrown into landfills. Much of that produces methane as it rots; the gas is 25 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The UK website Next Generation Food estimates that each tonne of food waste is equivalent to 4.2 tonnes of CO2. They conclude that if we simply stopped wasting food, it would be the equivalent of taking a quarter of all the cars in America off the road. The climate impact of uneaten food

... Orchestrated by award-winning film maker Jeremy Seifert—producer of the food waste documentary Dive!—a campaign has been building at petition site to tell Trader Joe's to stop wasting their food, donate soon-to-expire products, and implement a company-wide zero food waste policy. Head on over to the Trader Joe's food waste petition to add your voice to the crowd. Tell Trader Joe's to Stop Wasting Food

Saturday evening.7pm

There isn't a bone in my sixty-year-old body that does not ache after the three-and-a-half hour 5000 strong march with Occupy San Francisco. I feel, in fact, just about as dead as the batteries on my camera and cell phone as I exit the camp, which is tucked in the shade of a smattering of Palm Trees under the shadow of the spire of the Ferry Building. Each, in its own fashion, an exclamation point at the foot of Market Street.

A roar goes up as someone shoots through the sky on the Justin Herman Plaza Zipline. Don't know why that fires up a neural connection with hunger, but I find myself turning back to the camp, wondering what ARE all these people doing for food?

About 300 people still occupy the camp. Perched on a stationary bicycle attached to a old car battery, a young occupier, slick with sweat, pedals profusely to power up the evening.  Right behind him, a queue walks along a tattered row of tables and boxes, overflowing with bread, oranges, apples, red peppers. Two women dish out salad, behind them a stockpile of non-perishables -- containers of cereals and teas; crackers and water; a box of gloves for food servers; some cakes.

I hear someone call out. "Here's the butter ... but we don't have any knives ... "

A young volunteer on the kitchen staff is refilling the huge salad bowl.

"Where does all the food come from?" I ask.

"From everywhere," he says. "They just drop it off. Everyone."

... That night, Oct. 1, the camp was lively and half a block long. A big, hot pot of soup sat on the kitchen stove.

(snip) On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the camp was busy, clean, and what organizer Amy O proudly described as "jubilant." Hundreds exchanged ideas, played music, and made signs and art. Two abundant snack tables providing free food to any and all were only the tip of the iceberg; the kitchen was piled so high that organizers had begun turning away food donations.


She carried a clipboard and was compiling a massive list of food, supplies ... I learned that a flood of supporters, eager to donate, had requested info about what the camp needed. She planned to post the list on later that night.

Fifteen people climbed into a tent for the Gardening Committee meeting, keen to begin growing food for the camp. The donations were rolling in, and if there was a project we wanted to do, well, we probably could. We discussed what could grow in the winter and planting more in the spring. Inside the Occupation

Sunday. 7pm

"Camp life is dotted with calls for the People's Mic, a tool developed at Occupy Wall Street, where using bullhorn or speakers is illegal. When someone yells "Mic check!" the crowd echoes in response. The person speaks his piece, sentence by sentence, as the crowd repeats. If a few people nearby can hear him, everyone can. For better or for worse, it tends not to amplify ideas people don't have much taste for; at a recent meeting, when someone insisted that people who had been foreclosed on were greedy and foolish, the People's Mic's volume faded fast.

"The People's Mic requires no electricity, discourages rambling, a brilliant improvisation." Inside the Occupation

And so I close tonight with a Daily Kos "people's mic."

Are you ready?

I say DIVE.
You say DIVE.
I say NOW..
You say NOW..

I say SHARE.
I say NOW!
You Say NOW!

I say Feed America.
You say Feed America.
I say NOW!  
You say NOW!
I say Feed America.
You say Feed America.
I say NOW!  
You say NOW!

I say WE ARE.
You say WE ARE.
I say: The 99%.
You say. The 99%.

You say DONATE.
I say NOW!
YOU say ......

Continue Reading

Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 04:01 PM PDT

1 in 6 : Hunger in Vancouver

by Chacounne

Reposted from Standing for justice and accountability, for Dan by Chacounne

Dear Friends,
     This is a reprise of the diary I wrote for one of last year's Feeding America blogathon. My personal situation has changed immensely, for the better, since I wrote it, but it is no less true. This is a window into what it is really like to wait in line at the food bank.

      There are many people, real live human beings, who are hungry in your neighbourhood, including children. Please, if you can, help to fill the hungry tummies near you.

                                    With gratitude,

Continue Reading
Reposted from Patric Juillet by JanF

In today's world, where so many wake up in poverty and go to sleep hungry, each of us should ask: "how can I change this?" It is a sin to waste food while others do not have enough to eat. Every year the food waste in America alone can feed over 50 million people per year. Here's an example: if a farmer grows 100,000 pounds of tomatoes, usually about half of them must be thrown away, 50,000 pounds down the drain. This is because if a tomato is slightly misshapen, discolored, too small (or too big), or blemished in any way, it will not meet the consumer demand for a "perfect" tomato and will therefore be rejected, as will other vegetable produce: this is true for many fruit and vegetable crops. To prevent tons of produce from being rejected by picky customers (and supermarkets buyers), crops are "culled" (hand sorted) after they are picked. So about half goes into the truck on its way to the store and the other half goes into another truck straight to the dump, or destined to be plowed under and sprayed with insecticide.

As of 2011, 1.3 billion tons of food, about one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually.

As you know the food being thrown away is not rotten or bad in any way and could find its way to needy folks with proper organization and means of distribution. And then we have the huge waste from the supermarkets and to a lesser volume, the restaurants, fast food outlets and just about every eatery in any shape or form.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Aji by JanF

Come.  Sit with me a moment.  I want to tell you a story.

In the outside world, they'll soon be celebrating Halloween, with their ghosts and goblins and witches and other scary creatures.

We have our own creature, but he's not just scary.  He's dangerous.

Winter is coming, and soon, it will be the season of the Windigo.

You see, the Windigo is a giant monster made of ice.  Where his heart should be, it's solid ice, so he doesn't care about anything or anyone except what he wants.  And where his stomach should be, it's solid ice, so he's always hungry.

And the Windigo is a cannibal.

You see, once the Windigo was human, like us.  But he got greedy, and he turned away from the people and our teachings.  As he became more evil, he grew and grew, into a powerful giant.  But that kind of power comes with a terrible price, and Gichi Manitou turned him into a creature made entirely of ice, cold and starving, never to be warm again, never to be filled.  And the Windigo hungers not merely for human flesh and bones; he feeds off human spirits, too.

So when when the snows come, when the people are cold and hungry and frightened, that's when the Windigo comes.  Because he knows that we are easier prey.  And the only thing powerful enough to fight a Windigo is another Windigo.  So if he comes, the only way to defeat him is is to become one yourself.  But you must be careful:  If you go Windigo for too long, you will not be able to find your way back to human form.

What happens when your hunger eats you up from the inside?

Continue Reading
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.


Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site