Statistics show a steady increase in the number of people seeking food assistance. A 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reports “emergency food assistance increased by an average of 2 percent” in the past year. The report also revealed food pantries increased food output while at the same time decreasing quantity of food per individual.
Shortage of food isn’t the issue in the U.S. Why then do more than 40 million people in America struggle with hunger? Response to hunger has shifted dramatically since the late 1960s when Food Stamps and food banks emerged as permanent fixtures in our society. Over the past two decades the amount of food produced in the U.S. has risen while the number of agricultural workers remains relatively the same.
Technological advancement has allowed commercial farmers to produce more with fewer workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of agricultural workers is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. Despite increased demand for crops and other agricultural products, employment growth is expected to be tempered.” Of course this means that wages will remain low for agricultural workers who make a median income of $10.83 per hour.
Farmer subsidies emerged in the mid-to-late 19th century, paving the way for the U.S. food system. Land grants turned into direct farmer subsidies by the 1930s which promoted farmers to produce a surplus of crops. This ideological shift led to the heavily subsidies cooperate farming of current day.
Most community food organizations now hold the idea of “waste not, want not” which embodies the ideology of taking food that would otherwise be thrown out, and redistributing that food to communities of need. Food pantries also collaborate with local farmers to ensure that slightly damaged produce doesn’t go to waste.
While these efforts are a step in the right direction, I question whether we as a society are creating a demand for waste? If we are dependent on waste to feed hunger, are we not also dependent on hunger? Even Organic Farms produce waste, and have not yet solved the low-wage issue due to their inability to compete with commercial farmers.
I grew up on a small farm in northwest Georgia. A rite of passage was learning how to cultivate food. I believe that all people need to be engaged in local food production. Technology can bridge the gap in food security instead of widening it if we don’t exploit natural resources.
The cost of redistribution is much higher than educating people about how to produce a portion of their own food. Education is the key to the future of food security. Addressing hunger through food production would impact healthcare cost, environmental awareness, mental health, and much more.
How to contribute to ending hunger?
Create a community garden. Talk to your local school districts to see if they have an agricultural program or contact your local food pantry to learn more about ways to get involved.
Crystal Hall, coordinator
Homer Community Food Pantry
Shoot for the Stars support appreciated
Earlier this summer on July 7 there was a fantastic fundraiser event for an incredible cause. An amazing musician, Juan M. Soria, originally from Argentina, provided beautiful acoustic music and singing at the lovely Bear Creek Winery Garden and Stage. Fried halibut and delicious rhubarb limeade was serve on such a gorgeous day. The setting was perfect. All of the proceeds from the event went to the “Diane Wambach Shoot for the Stars” Scholarship and we raised $2,000.
This annual scholarship is in memory of our mother, Diane Wambach, who believed that everyone deserves a chance and they should be encouraged to shoot for the stars regardless of the challenges and adversities that may have been holding them back. This successful and fun event was the result of many people who helped in so many ways.
We would like to thank the Homer Bookstore for selling tickets, Jacque Peterson for collecting tickets, Melishia Lopes for creating the flier, Ryan and Larissa Turkington for providing fresh halibut, Jed Frazier for cooking fish and chips, Mike Illg as the MC, Joy Stewart for her delicious rhubarb limeade, and Ken Castner for the use of the warming trays. Thanks to all who were able to attend and enjoy the event. And special thanks to the Homer Foundation for their continued support in allowing this scholarship to strive and help others. And finally, a heartwarming, super special thanks to Bill and Dorothy Fry for generously offering and donating their lovely Bear Creek Winery Garden venue and providing the music. We truly appreciate your kindness not only with this event but the many other things you do for our community.
Cheryl Illg and Jennifer Wambach
The big 5-0
I believe it was 50 years ago that my former law partner, James E. Fisher, called the organization meeting together for the Kenai Peninsula Bar Association. Attendees included Fisher, Bob Hahn and myself. We immediately began a campaign for a local Superior Court Judge. Jim Hanson was the first Kenai Superior Court judge. We demanded all applicants agree in writing they would move to the Kenai or else we would oppose them. Tom Wardell was our first District Attorney and Bob Coats was our first Public Defender. Jess Nicholas followed Commissioner Stan Thompson as Magistrate. I was the first District Court Judge in Homer. Happy 50th birthday to the Kenai Peninsula Bar Association.
James C. Hornaday
HEA should be absorbed by Chugach Electric
I see another rate increase by Homer Electric Association after the first of the year. We now pay exactly twice the national average. HEA needs to be absorbed into Chugach Electric. Keep the warehouses and line crews and retire/relocate/dissolve the other redundant positions.
War engineers are real culprits, not Army veteran Track Palin
The news of Track Palin going into soldier mode is affecting me emotionally. The war engineers are the real culprits. Bush, Cheney, Romney, and Powell are all walking free.
Lady liberty is doped out!