Blank Plates

When we think of food security we usually think about third world countries halfway across the world and not of our own. However food security is an issue that is affecting many Americans each day. Food security is defined as having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. We live in a culture where fast food is a cheap, fast alternative to a healthy meal. Fast food has become popularized within our culture, and often is a cheap alterative to cooking for people who cannot afford either the time or money to do so. I apologize if this blog post is similar to the one discussing obesity by Peter; I saw his right as I was about to post this one.

Income inequality as well as just general availability of fast food within the United States has lead to a situation in which for many people unhealthy and non-nutritious food is incredibly easy to access. This ease of access as well as situations in which an individual cannot afford either the time or money to cook healthy foods leads to instances of food insecurity in the United States. I’d like to think that as a developed country we would have the ability to provide all citizens with access to affordable and nutritious food, but this is not the case. We see convenience stores packed with unhealthy food on street corners near urban schools, which doesn’t exactly set a great example. School lunches also vary widely depending on the school district, with some being healthier than others.

As for the problem of food security in general I learned mostly about this in one of my classes during a discussion of inequality in America, both racial and economic. We discussed how there was a lack of availability of cheap healthy foods in certain urban centers, which would lead to instances of food insecurity. There are some business solutions that can be effective in curbing food insecurity. Already there exist food banks who help people who may not be able to afford food, and by potentially shifting the focus of food banks towards healthier foods in urban centers more people could have access to them. This isn’t entirely clear-cut though, as many food banks rely on food that can be stored for long periods of time so that they can serve many different people. Fresh healthy food spoils quickly, which would pose a challenge on the supply chain of this new type of food bank.

There are pros and cons to using business solutions to solve social issues, but I feel food banks could be better leveraged to help provide healthy food to people. While a food bank may not technically be a business and more of an organization, I think that this is a potential valid solution to a social issue. With any social issue there needs to be adequate awareness raised, which is something that cannot necessarily be done entirely by a business or organization. It ultimately becomes something that everyone needs to strive to eliminate.


9 thoughts on “Blank Plates

  1. I think you raise a really good point about how most of us would not have thought that the U.S., one of the leading and most developed countries in the world, have to face issues of food insecurity. Being in the SoJo Res College my freshman year, one of the topics that was discussed was the issue of food insecurity and it’s eye-opening to see how many food insecure towns/cities there actually are, whether we live in them or we drive past them every day without realizing it.


  2. It is always good to see another blog post about the current food crisis in the United States and you brought up some very different points from what I wrote about. One thing that I found very interesting is that you mentioned “urban schools”. I think that schools are also an essential issue surrounding obesity in the US. When children go to school and eat hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fries, and soda, they are naturally going to crave these types of foods. I think that the first step is to change the food at schools and then move into homes. Something my high school did was we hosted an event where we invited some local chefs create a meal with the $1 per child policy. They were able to create some delicious options while spending the same amount as what the US government is spending on kids in school. This was eye opening because you always hear about how healthy food is more expensive, but in reality if you work at it you can pay the same amount while eating healthy.


  3. I agree with @pkrebs101. School, elementary school especially, is a place for children to learn and set habits for the rest of their lives. It is disgusting the quality and type of food that is given, not offered, to children. I think in an effort to fight the obesity crisis we must begin with cafeterias for children and to teach them the importance of eating a healthy well balanced diet. I’d be interested in seeing if this type of change in elementary schools would do for obesity. Nutrition is not a realm where we should be making cutbacks, like many schools do. We should be looking into ways to make sure that growing children are given better food.


  4. I agree with the comments written before mine, but I’d like to expand on the convenience store dilemma of offering unhealthy foods at a low price. When you’re on a road trip or simply filling up your tank before you hit the road, I think there is less of a concern (when there should be) to grab something healthy. If there are healthy choices, they are not always displayed in the front of the store. Similarly, you see healthy items in grocery stores costing substantially more than unhealthy items. You can get two 2 liter bottles of soda for $3, but freshly sliced fruit (in-store) costs anywhere from $4-$5 depending on the weight. You offered some wonderful solutions towards awareness and educating the public on such obesity issues facing our nation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more about the price of healthy items in grocery stores costing substantially more than unhealthy items. While stores such as Whole Foods are not located everywhere, especially in areas which face food insecurity, they are a great example of charging a premium for healthy food. As you state, why would you pay for fruit when you can get almost a full meal at a fast food restaurant like Wendy’s 4 for $4 combo.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you say that because Will Allen was on campus earlier this year and he gave a talk about his book and he explained some of his methods to bring natural home grown food back to the forefront. He has some amazing plans to make our homes more food self sufficient by growing our own local vegetables and fruits so that we can become less reliant on the amazingly large food system. He has plans to build sustainable greenhouses in urban areas in order to help communities have easier access to healthy local food.


  5. I’m huge into nutrition and health in general. There has been discussion in this forum about food banks providing a better solution to food scarcity in the US. Could be true, I have no stats to refute that. However, there is one company that has gotten a lot of press called ThriveMarket. I can’t link it in a comment but they provide healthy food at low prices. They also have a 1-for-1 type service that gives food to people who can’t afford it. Worth checking out.


  6. Hey Ian, very engaging post – hunger is a big issue! I am just wondering whether is is fair to focus in the U.S when it comes to hunger. Sure, about 1 in 10 people in the U.S are below the threshold of poverty, but what about the 35% of people in poverty in SubSaharan Africa, when is it their turn to be taken care of and be offered relief for the situation that they are in? Also, on the same note, considering that is the West that has left half of the world in poverty, when is the moment when we’re going to stop obsessing about our relatively bad situation and start focusing on the real bad situation that we have created?


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