Reno, Nevada - On a recent sunny morning in Reno, Nevada, volunteers worked diligently to harvest fresh vegetables from plots of rich soil, collecting tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers while a few farm goats bleated behind them. The freshly harvested produce would be washed, sorted, and stored in a solar-powered refrigerator until ending up on the dinner plates of local families. But this is no typical farm. The five-acre plot of land is situated in the middle of a busy suburban neighborhood, juxtaposed near a Reno intersection where cars almost constantly whiz by. Dubbed the “Park Farm,” the operation is run by the non-profit Reno Food Systems (RFS) as a demonstration farm to train others in organic farming practices and as a means to provide local restaurants and community groups with fresh organic produce.
In 2018, 48% of U.S.-based churches had their own food-distribution ministry or supported efforts run by other churches or organizations such as food pantries or food banks. These faith-based ministries, unlike government programs, provide immediate help to hungry people with no requirements. And more than two million people volunteer at a food pantry, soup kitchen, emergency shelter or after-school programs in the U.S., working more than 100 million volunteer hours a year—according to Hunger in America 2014, a study conducted by Feeding America. This wave of charity recognizes a serious problem in the United States: Despite being a wealthy nation, food insecurity remains high.
After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, Peace Action welcomed the withdrawal of troops from the country and an end to the war. Yet when the United States military pulled out of Afghanistan, the Biden administration also responded by choking off assets to Afghan banks and the economy by freezing the reserves of the Afghan Central Bank held in the U.S. They also imposed sanctions on those doing business with Afghanistan and cut aid. Jobs and income disappeared, people cannot afford to buy food and mass starvation is now occurring. The Afghan people are suffering now more than ever. Hunger could kill more now than in two decades of war.
Economic sanctions have, in recent years, become one of the most important tools of U.S. foreign policy. There are currently more than 20 countries subjected to various sanctions from the U.S. government. But if more Americans knew how many innocent civilians actually die as a result of these sanctions, would the worst of them be permitted? We may be about to find out in Afghanistan. Sanctions currently imposed on the country are on track to take the lives of more civilians in the coming year than have been killed by 20 years of warfare. There’s no hiding it any more. Projections through the winter estimate that 22.8 million people will face “high levels of acute food insecurity.”
Washington – Already dealing with the economic fallout from a protracted pandemic, the rapidly rising prices of food and other key commodities have many fearing that unprecedented political and social instability could be just around the corner next year. With the clock ticking on student loan and rent debts, the price of a standard cart of food has jumped 6.4% in the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the cost of eating out in a restaurant similarly spiking, by 5.8% since November 2020. The most notable change has been in the price of meat, with beef costing 26.2% more than it did last year, pork 19.2% more and chicken 14.8% more. Bacon prices have reached historic levels, and are now 36% higher than in 1980, even after adjusting for inflation.
As the COVID pandemic upended the economy in the spring and summer of 2020, tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs and became ever more vulnerable to hunger. In consequence, the country’s network of food banks saw a sudden spike in usage. Just prior to, and at the start of the pandemic, food banks distributed 1.1 billion pounds of food in the first quarter of 2020. By the fall of that year, they were handing out 1.7 billion pounds. Since then, that dizzying increase has leveled off or fallen somewhat in many places, but that doesn’t mean the country’s no longer suffering an epidemic of food insecurity. To the contrary: Large food banks around the country are still reporting far higher levels of need — and of food distribution to attempt to meet that need — than was the case prior to COVID.
The pandemic has created extraordinary need for millions of people across the U.S. This is particularly acute, though often hidden, on college campuses, where students are sometimes left to choose between paying rent and having enough to eat. During their college careers, far too many students lack reliable access to nutritious food, hampering their efforts to advance their education and skills. Even before the pandemic, 43 percent of students at two- and four-year colleges reported facing food insecurity — defined as limited or uncertain access to adequate food — in the previous month, the nonprofit Hope Center found. Black, Latino and Native American students were at even greater risk. This inequality compounds systemic economic disparities.
New Paltz, NY - Every Wednesday, a mix of New Paltz college students and locals congregate in a small workspace just outside of town. It may look like they’re just cooking and packing food to deliver to needy families, but it’s really more than that. “Like when people say, ‘serving the community,’ well, we want to build a community,” said Katari Sisa, a volunteer for Food Not Bombs New Paltz. Sisa, a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz, has been involved at the organization for the last four years now. Sisa says that giving back is necessary right now, with a pandemic raging and, according to data collected by the University of Southern California, nearly 37% of Americans are dealing with food insecurity.
This month, the principal of Linda Tutt High School in the small town of Sanger, Texas, said he was approached by an eighth grader eager to share that he had bought a three-in-one men's shampoo, conditioner and body wash. "The first thing he did was he said: 'Hey. Look in my hair,'" the principal, Anthony Love, recalled in an interview Tuesday. "And so I looked at it, and it looked clean," Love said. "But he was excited about it because it was the first time he's ever had his own shampoo." The student, who lives with his mother and sister, said he had avoided using their shampoo because of the smell, Love said. But he was finally able to get his own shampoo, as well as food, at a new student-run grocery store on the school's campus where students can buy food and other essentials, without money.
Food pantries in NYC are struggling to keep up with a dramatic increase in demand for assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has inflamed the already desperate situation faced by many New Yorkers living at the poverty line. Before the virus tore a hole through the city's economy, some 12% of residents were already reporting food insecurity fears. That percentage has jumped to 32% of surveyed residents, according to a new report from the Robin Hood Foundation -- underscoring the need for immediate federal help as local food pantries are stretched to the limit.
Signed into law by Trump last December, the draconian measure that breaches international law became effective on June 17. It has nothing to do with protecting Syrian civilians, everything to do with starving and otherwise immiserating them into submission to Washington’s imperial boot. The measure threatens sanctions on nations, entities and individuals that maintain legitimate economic, financial, military, and intelligence relations with Damascus — their legal right under international law. Syrian envoy to Russia Riyad Haddad explained that threatened US sanctions under the measure “not only target Syria, they directly or indirectly jeopard(e) all its allies and are also aimed against Persian Gulf countries, so that none of these countries dares to invest in” the Syrian Arab Republic.
Coronavirus cases continue to climb across the Southern and Western United States. In New York, previously the nation’s epicenter, many of the residents reeling from the economic consequences are excluded from any government assistance. Clara Cortes lives in Long Island with her family. Both she and her husband tested positive for the virus, and while Clara has since recovered, her husband spent 54 days in the hospital. Now he is in a rehabilitation center dependent on a ventilator to breathe. “My husband is fighting for his recovery right now and it’s all because of the simple fact that he went to work to support his family,” Cortes said in a virtual press conference. Cortes is out of work, and without steady access to income, it is difficult to pay her mortgage, her husband's medical bills and support her family.
“You have so many people that have been displaced from work, you have so many single moms with children at home, and you have so many isolated seniors, that the demand for services has just gone through the roof,” Blake Young, the organization’s president and CEO for 15 years, said. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the organization served approximately 150,000 people each month. In April and May, that number went up to more than 300,000 people. But the worst may be yet to come, thanks to the ongoing recession. Regional food banks, which are designed to be safety nets, not main sources of food, fear that they won’t be able to meet the swelling need.
Thursday’s jobless claims leave no doubt that the country is in the grips of another severe recession. More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance in the last week. That number exceeds the gloomiest prediction of more than 40 economists and pushes the two-week total to an eye-watering 10 million claims. According to CNBC: “Those at the lower end of the wage scale have been especially hard-hit during a crisis that has seen businesses either cut staff outright or at best freeze any new hiring until there’s more visibility about how efforts to contain the coronavirus will work. “We’ve lived through the recession and 9/11. What we’re seeing with this decline is actually worse than both of those events,” said Irina Novoselsky, CEO of online jobs marketplace CareerBuilder.” (CNBC) According to New York Magazine: “Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louisprojected Monday that job losses from the coronavirus recession would reach 47 million and push America’s unemployment rate to 32.1 percent — more than 7 points higher than its Great Depression–era peak.”
Haiti - In the seventh week of protests, and 100 years after the assassination of Charlemagne Peralta, the hero of resistance to the American invasion of 1915-1934, Haitian majorities are mobilizing throughout the country today. In the capital Port-au-Prince they will march, significantly, to the North American embassy, denouncing the continuity of the American interference in the domestic affairs of the Caribbean nation. The Patriotic Forum, a space that brings together more than 62 social movements and political parties, will be mobilized in seven large cities throughout the country: Jérémie, Les Cayes, Miragoâne, Jacmel, Port-de-Paix, Hinche and Mirebalais. The popular organizations, along with other opposition sectors, demand the immediate resignation of President Jovenel Moïse and the resolution of the endless Haitian crisis which continues to deepen, reaching new dimensions with each passing day.