2.28.2015

The Food Issues Book Club: How Hungry is America, Chapter 15

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

How Hungry is America, Chapter 15: How All of Us (Including YOU) Can End Hunger in America

Summary:

To end hunger in the US, we must begin to hold our politicians accountable for not only talking a good game about, but also following through on, antihunger initiatives.  The stakeholders in this struggle - that is, the poor and food insecure - must be at the forefront of the fight.  Contrary to what many activists think or do, the disenfranchised do NOT need to be spoken for.  Rather, they need access to a platform from which to speak.

Individuals, depending on their means, can help - to name just a few ways - by:
  • volunteering skills such as office work, accounting, web design, etc.
  • supporting policy reform efforts with donations and by spreading the word
  • speaking up about issues of hunger in social media - to make them less easy to ignore
  • putting pressure on elected officials to address the problems in meaningful ways
If we attack hunger in the US from the top, the bottom, and all sides, and with persistence, we can make it as unthinkable as slavery and child labor.

Discussion:

In the final chapter of the book Berg issues a call to action, clearly stating that it is up to each and every one of us to work against and ultimately solve hunger.  As is made clear throughout the book, he does not believe this will be accomplished through canned food drives or soup kitchen volunteering.  I agree - though I do still think there is value in those actions.  Standing alone, though, they are rather impotent.

Berg's words on the "unthinkableness" of slavery, child labor, and the like are pretty words that we all agree with.  But the truth is that on many fronts, we have not eliminated these issues.  Not even on US soil.  We've simply moved the problem - to immigrant workers who don't speak English, to developing countries full of brown people that rarely make it to the evening news, and to other physical and mental spaces that it's easy not to think about.  Sadly out of sight does tend to be out of mind.  So here I am, taking Berg's advice, saying out loud on this blog for all who care to read it:

There is still human slavery and child labor in the US, and we frequently support both of these atrocities when we go to the grocery store.

Out of sight and out of mind are not the same as out of reality.  The only way to take these "unthinkable" conditions out of reality is to a) determine where and why they're occurring, b) consistently stop supporting them financially, and c) bring as much attention on social and political levels to their existence as possible.  I'm doing my best to do these things, and I hope each of you will take up that mantle.

How?  The first step is to educate yourself.  Anyone care to read some books?




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