Historical Context: The Great Depression
Al Capone’s Soup Kitchen
Unemployed men outside a soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 1931 (historicalphotos.com).
One of the first cases of extensive malnutrition and hunger in America was during the Great Depression. The U.S. first encountered its major food crisis from 1929 to 1933; the Great Depression is known as the one of the greatest economic downfalls in modern history. The circumstances quickly escalated when millions of people were left unemployed; families gradually became financially unstable as food insecurities grew and children were mentally and physically unable to go to school. Many families lost their jobs and were evicted from their houses; “Unemployment in 1930 averaged a mildly recessionary 8.9%, up from 3.2% in 1929” (Foundation for Economic Education Editors). As for food resources, farmers suffered from the decrease of produce pricing, while overproducing countless amounts of crops. The decrease in demand forced farmers into lowering their pricing which spiked other consequences. Farmers regularly lost money whilst the pile of rotten crops heightened simultaneously.
Current Problem: COVID-19
“Almost four times as many people than before the pandemic used our Food Locator to find resources, pantries, and CalFresh (food stamps) assistance.”San Francisco Marin Food Bank
Food insecurity is a critical social problem that is intricately connected to other equally important issues. It all begins when a family becomes financially unstable, leaving them unable to afford nutritious food. In addition, issues such as food waste are heavily related to food insecurity; “Food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply” (U.S. Department of Agriculture). Numerous food banks are struggling because the “demand is spiking and people are in need, [but] food is becoming very difficult to get” (Bhattarai). Another huge issue that appears alongside food insecurity is homelessness. It is an issue that impacts many communities, especially in the Bay Area. Although they are both very different cases, many organizations strive to limit and assist both individuals that are food insecure and homeless.
vending machines and leftover cuisine.
A macro solution that has already been implemented nationwide is the use of vending machines that give free food, clothing, and other necessities. Huzaifah Khaled partnered with N&W Global Vending to open up the first vending machine by Action Hunger in a shopping mall in Nottingham, England. I believe that this can be one of the long term solutions to end homelessness and food insecurity. Furthermore, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a non-profit food rescue organization focuses on limiting food waste, as well as saving the extra food from restaurants, hotels, and food catering companies.
food waste and donate.
Some easy and straightforward steps that can be taken by anyone are donating, volunteering and limiting food waste. Simple research can be done to identify some local community support centers where donations of any living necessities are accepted. Taking the time and effort to volunteer at these organizations can be quite impactful on the community. However, something more manageable in everyday life is limiting food waste. When food is wasted, multiple inputs become wasted as well, such as energy, time, labor, water, and land that is needed to produce, process, and transport the food.
Thank you for checking out my page! I hope that you have learned about the importance of the cycle of hunger and poverty circulating in our society, and urge you to find the best ways you can contribute to help end it. Feel free to leave any questions or comments as well as feedback and thoughts on both the macro and micro solutions.
Let me know down below:
Have you ever researched about any local organizations, shelters, food banks, etc. near you? Has your family tried to contribute with limiting food waste, if not what is stopping you from doing so?