From Garden to Table: How to Feed the Hungry

Food scarcity in poor urban and rural areas of the Capital District is real. It often leads to stigma among the poorest peoples served. Amy Klein, CEO of Capital Roots, explains how her organization is changing this around.

Have you ever thought of an ice cream cone on a hot Sunday afternoon? Has the turkey – with all the stuffing – ever called your name when Thanksgiving draws near? How about a hamburger with all the fixings on the Fourth of July?

Most, including myself, have had these experiences with food. But whatever happens to those who are without them? What kinds of feelings do they experience? Without basic nourishment, many of them will go without.

Around 811 million people go hungry around the world, according to Action Against Hunger, even as we produce more and more food every day. And the need for food among the poor grows daily. From 2019 to 2020, the number of the hungry has grown to as many as 161 million more, a crisis driven by conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may think that it happens elsewhere than the Western modern world. One hears of famine and starvation in places like sub-Saharan Africa, in Asia, or in South America. But the numbers of hungry and malnourished are alarming in nations that should have enough to feed people.

In the United States 2.5% of the total population didn’t have enough to feed themselves, which amounts to one in every 40 Americans. That is a number that is unacceptable. Imagine, 48.8 million Americans including 16.2 million children go hungry every day.

We picture the United States as a land of bounty: Fields of grain and corn, bushels of berries, crops of pumpkins and tomatoes. Why then do we have a food shortage?

Because most Americans don’t eat grain, berries, and tomatoes; Americans, especially the poor, get candy served as snacks, donuts for breakfast, and other processed nutrient-depleted food for lunch and dinner.

On a global level, the United Nations has a goal of ending hunger, achieving food security, and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030. According to the United Nations, this means eliminating undernourishment for all.

By 2030, the United Nations plans to:

  • Double the average productivity of food workers
  • Double the average income of small-scale food producers
  • Increase investment in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development, and plant and livestock gene banks to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries.

On a local level, there are many businesses and not-for-profit organizations at the forefront of the food crisis. Consider Capital Roots in Troy, New York. Its mission is to nourish healthy communities by providing access to affordable fresh food and green spaces for all. (See the podcast interview above).

We CAN provide food for all. Children do not have to be malnourished preventing the onset of many adult diseases like diabetes and cancer. We have the power to feed the hungry. All it takes is community action.

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