Three years ago, Jorge Palacios, David Roper and Josh Placeres came together with a shared vision to make a better world for communities of color in Miami. They wanted to create a space where Black and Brown families can access fresh produce and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. Borne of their own social justice and community activism, the trio cultivated a food movement by transforming an empty land lot into a lush community garden in the heart of the historically Black Overtown neighborhood. Carrots, eggplant, garlic chive, kale, cranberry hibiscus, papaya, Thai basil, and moringa are in abundance for a community that has limited fresh produce options. The three launched the Green Haven Project in 2019, to expand their efforts.
“President Joe Biden and other leaders of the world’s major industrialized democracies pledged action on Thursday [March 24] to address food shortages caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine,” Politico reports. Biden says food shortages “are going to be real,” although he seems to see them as an opportunity to increase US grain production and food exports rather than a real threat to Americans’ own well-being. After a year of continuing his predecessor’s “trade war” policies, Biden seems to be getting some free trade religion, which is nice, but he may be under-estimating the scope of the problem. The Russian invasion of Ukraine — and the US/EU/NATO sanctions response — doesn’t just up-end the global supply of grain crops (Russia and Ukraine are both top exporters of wheat) and other foods.
Yemen’s already dire hunger crisis is teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe, with 17.4 million people now in need of food assistance and a growing portion of the population coping with emergency levels of hunger, three UN agencies warned on 14 March 2022. “The humanitarian situation in the country is poised to get even worse between June and December 2022, with the number of people who likely will be unable to meet their minimum food needs in Yemen possibly reaching a record 19 million people in that period.” This has been the strong alarm launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), following the release of a new Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis on Yemen.
In March 2020, nearly all U.S. K-12 school buildings closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the federal government’s National School Lunch Program, quickly granted waivers to increase program flexibility and accommodate the challenges of the pandemic. These waivers, which have been renewed several times, were critically important for school food service programs as the programs abruptly shifted away from serving meals in cafeterias and designed new distribution models to continue to feed students. Many school meal staff across the country created grab-and-go meals that families could pick up, which was particularly important in the spring of 2020 and the following school year.
Born and raised in Mount Pulaski, a town in central Illinois, Tom Martin has seen several grocery stores shut their doors over the years. The last one closed in 2016. It was hard to buy basic staples, such as milk or bread, after the independent grocery store’s closure, said Martin, 65, a local farmer. Residents in the 1,500-person town had to rely on the nearby dollar store and gas station to purchase food. “When a grocery store closes up and it’s your last one,” Martin said, “you feel it immediately.” Rural towns, such as Mount Pulaski, have lost grocery stores while dollar-store chains have been on the rise, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The departure of food stores leaves residents, especially those in areas with high poverty rates and dwindling population, with fewer options to buy food.
Not only will raising interest rates not fix the supply crisis, but according to Alasdair Macleod, head of research at GoldMoney in London, U.K., that wrong medicine is likely to trigger the next financial crisis. He thinks it is imminent and will start in Europe, where negative interest rates brought the cost of doing repo trades to zero. As a result, the European repo market is now over €10 trillion ($11.4 trillion), far more than the capital available to unwind it (to reverse or close the trades). Rising interest rates will trigger that unwinding, says MacLeod, and the ECB lacks the tools to avoid the resulting crisis. Meanwhile, oil prices have risen over 50% and natural gas over 60% in Europe in the past year, “due to a supply crisis of its governments’ own making,” writes Macleod.
I live in San Diego, where I teach courses on urban and food geographies and conduct research on the relationship between food and ethnicity in urban contexts. In recent years, I started to notice a pattern playing out in the city’s low-income neighborhoods that have traditionally lacked food options. More ethnic restaurants, street vendors, community gardens and farmers markets were cropping up. These, in turn, spurred growing numbers of white, affluent and college-educated people to venture into areas they had long avoided. This observation inspired me to write a book, titled The $16 Taco, about how food — including what’s seen as “ethnic,” “authentic” or “alternative” — often serves as a spearhead for gentrification.
The 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published on Thursday, revealed soaring levels of hunger among the poor and working populations around the globe. The foreword, written by the heads of Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, the organizations responsible for the GHI, stated that the report “points to a dire hunger situation, a result of the toxic cocktail of the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly severe and protracted conflicts.” Rising food prices are a critical contributing factor in the growth of world hunger over the past year. Rapidly mounting inflation and the disruption of the supply chain networks of global capitalism are driving up the prices of all basic consumer goods. The U.S. Energy Information Authority reported that nearly half of all US households who use natural gas to heat their homes will pay an average of 30 to 50 percent more this winter for heating than last year.
On 1 October, the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA), a network of over 200 social and political movements, had its public launch. The IPA owes its origin to a meeting held in Brazil in 2015 where movement leaders gathered to talk about the perilous situation facing the world. At this meeting – called the Dilemmas of Humanity – the idea was born to create the IPA and three partner processes: a media network ( Peoples Dispatch ), a network of political schools (the International Collective of Political Education), and a research institute ( Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research ). Over the course of the next few months, I will be writing more about the history of the IPA and its general orientation. For now, we welcome its launch.
On an early Saturday afternoon, about a dozen residents and local organizers gathered in Maywood outside of the childhood home of Black Panther icon Fred Hampton. Armed with boxes of fresh whole corn, cherries, peaches and greens, they stood ready to stock a new community fridge that will provide people access to food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Maywood is a food desert,” said Anthony Clark, an Oak Park activist and founder of Suburban Unity Alliance, a nonprofit that led the charge to open the community’s first public refrigerator. “It’s all corner stores,” Clark said. “For people to even think about accessing fresh produce, they need money. They need to be able to travel. They have to leave the community and take their money outside of the community.”
Over international 250 organizations are demanding urgent action from global governments to address the hunger and famine faced by hundreds of millions—a crisis the groups said is driven largely by policy choices including ignored appeals for a global ceasefire and humanitarian funding. "These people are not starving, they are being starved," the groups wrote in an open letter released Tuesday. Referencing the countries where they operate—Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, DRC, Honduras, Venezuela, Nigeria, Haiti, CAR, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Sudan where they operate—the groups said, "These girls and boys, men and women, are being starved by conflict and violence; by inequality; by the impacts of climate change; by the loss of land, jobs, or prospects; by a fight against Covid-19 that has left them even further behind."
By Sherrell Dorsey for Next City - Mike Feinman owns and operates E&L Supermercado in Southwest Detroit. The grocery store has been in his family for three generations, and has supplied the surrounding community with a variety of Hispanic food offerings and farmers-market-fresh produce since the 1940s. Despite a much-debated reputation for food deserts (some point to not a lack of stores, but rather a lack of transportation available to help people access existing stores), Detroit has several indie grocers like E&L that have spent several decades feeding residents.