In Indianapolis’ Northeast Corridor, a predominantly Black area with a growing Latinx population, more than half of residents live in a food desert. One community-led initiative seeks to build a local food ecosystem, one that will not only feed them in times of crisis but will sustain their health, wealth and wellbeing for generations to come. In 2021, in the climate of the ongoing pandemic, the Equitable Food Access Initiative (EFAI) was created to address these dueling public health crises, in one of the top five cities in the country with the most people living in “food deserts,” or areas where low-income people don’t have ready access to fresh food retailers within reasonable traveling distance from their homes.
Food can be a great social and cultural leveller. But as the cost of meeting this basic need rises fast for all, the impact is anything but level. Access to nutritious food is uneven and people’s resilience to price rises and scarcity varies massively. Food campaigner and chef Jack Monroe highlighted how rising supermarket prices are not impacting all shoppers evenly. In January, they calculated some basic food items rose by over 300% while the official inflation rate was 5.4%. Meanwhile, the Food Foundation reported that those on the lowest incomes need to spend 47% of cash to meet the government’s healthy diet guidelines, compared with 11% for those with highest incomes. This isn’t a “cost of living” crisis; it’s a cost of inequality crisis.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), US forces established a third military base in Syria on 3 September. The new US military base was set up in Naqara village, just three kilometers from Qamishli in the northeastern province of Hasakah. The US has two more bases, one of them located in Himo village and another one in the Tel Fares area near the Qamishli airport. Armed groups have recently stepped up against US occupational forces and their regional allies due to the illegal exploitation of fossil fuels. The Syrian government has accused the United States of stealing the country’s natural resources, a staggering $107 billion since the war began in 2011.
Rebecca Wood didn’t realize she was food insecure until she wasn’t anymore. She credits the U.S. Department of Agriculture for that. Since March 2020, when the pandemic hit, the USDA has issued waivers to expand school lunch programs. This $11 billion program provided a vital lifeline to working families who were struggling to feed their kids during the pandemic, even when schools were out during the summer. Before the vouchers were issued, Wood struggled paying off her 10-year-old daughter’s school lunch debt. “Each pay period, I dumped a portion of my paycheck into my daughter Charlie’s school meal account. In doing so, I paid off her debt and added a few more dollars for future meals,” Wood told me.
The Covid-19 pandemic, the ensuing supply-chain crisis, and high rates of inflation around the world have led to rising food prices and fears of famine. These cascading and interlocking problems have pushed governments to prioritize economic self-sufficiency and food security. China is leading the way in this struggle. Beijing has shown how to strengthen food sovereignty, and simultaneously fight poverty, with a multi-pronged approach that combines state-funded agricultural cooperatives, stockpiling of nonperishable staples, a crackdown on waste, and government investment in new technologies. While the United Nations warns of “the specter of a global food shortage,” the Chinese government has provided countries with an alternative model to meet the needs of their people.
Their names are Ben and Karah. And they grow my food. I shake hands with and hug them on most Sundays when I visit the farmer’s market in my town. Sometimes I drive out to see Ben and Karah on their farm just outside of town where I pre-order and pick up my food for the week. I walk the farm. I take it in. The pastures, bull calves grazing in the distance, Ben and Karah’s children running down the lane. I duck into a hightunnel greenhouse to see the purple kale variety bursting through the soil in the middle of January (yes, with the right farming practices, you can grow fresh green vegetables in the dead of winter in the soil in Pennsylvania). The same kale that I will sauté for dinner that evening. This is my spiritual practice.
Oakland, CA — U.S. food banks already dealing with increased demand from families sidelined by the pandemic now face a new challenge — surging food prices and supply chain issues walloping the nation. The higher costs and limited availability mean some families may get smaller servings or substitutions for staples such as peanut butter, which costs nearly double what it did a year ago. As holidays approach, some food banks worry they won’t have enough stuffing and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “What happens when food prices go up is food insecurity for those who are experiencing it just gets worse,” said Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the efforts of more than 200 food banks across the country.
Last spring, within hours of the University of Chicago’s announcement that classes would be held online, students created a Facebook group to coordinate mutual aid efforts. Even with finals right around the corner, UChicago Mutual Aid came alive with activity. Students eagerly offered and accepted support in the form of advice, essential supplies like food and moving boxes, and spreadsheets listing leads on resources like housing. What I witnessed at my college was just one example of the many mutual aid networks, both college-based and non-college-based, that sprung up across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual aid, a radical practice that has been undertaken by marginalized groups for decades, became a mainstream buzzword almost overnight.
According to the United Nations, the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Yet this year, even in the United States, the world’s richest country, 1 in 3 American families with kids went hungry. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, official statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailed that 35 million people went hungry–10 million of them children. The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged the situation, exposing even those who felt “secure” to the possibility of going without eating. In a society where food is not a human right but a good to be purchased, how were people supposed to eat if they couldn’t work? The short answer: they didn’t. Receiving almost no help from the federal government, working people in the United States were laid off by the millions.
In July, A Video Went Viral On Social Media In Argentina Showing People Walking Across What Looks Like A Desert. But It Isn’t A Desert. This Is The Bed Of The Paraná River, Part Of The Second-Largest River System In South America. Normally The Stream Rises In Brazil And Reaches The Sea Via The River Plate, Draining A Vast Watershed Covering All Of Paraguay, Southern Brazil And Northern Argentina. Normally The Water Volume Flowing To The Atlantic Roughly Equals That Of The Mississippi River. What’s Happening Now Is Not Normal. The Drying Up Of Large Stretches Of River Comes As The Most Severe Drought Since 1944 Afflicts The Region. No Relief Is Expected In The Short Term. According To Forecasts From Argentina’s Ministry Of Public Works, The Lack Of Rain Will Last For At Least Another Three Months.
Each month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) releases a monthly food price index. The release on 3 June showed that food prices have surged by 40%, the largest rise since 2011. The impact of this food price rise will grievously hit developing countries, most of whom are major importers of food staples. Prices rise for a range of reasons, the current rise largely fuelled by the collapse of sizeable sections of the global economy during the pandemic. Warnings of general inflation due to lockdown-related pent-up demand, shipping bottlenecks, and oil price increases loom over richer states, which – due to the power of the wealthy bondholders – have few tools to manage inflation, and by poorer states, which swirl in a cataclysmic debt crisis.
Texas is home to more Black farmers than any state. The USDA's Census of Agriculture estimated in 2017 that of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States, roughly 48,000 are Black, and nearly a quarter of them are located in the Lone Star State. The number of Black folks sinking their hands into Texas soil, however, used to be much larger. The early 1900s witnessed the terrors of Jim Crow, which ran Black families in Texas off of their own land. The societal and business practices of the 1950s didn't allow Black farmers access to the fields and credit necessary to keep their farms afloat, and by the 1980s, an estimated 170 farms a week were being forced into foreclosure, most of them Black-owned.
The past decade, particularly 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, has shone a light on the full extent of existing inequalities in the world. Ahead of this International Women’s Day, we would like to draw attention to ways that women – whether Indigenous, rural workers or those enduring an occupation – resist and mobilise in the face of multiple, long-term crises. Existing patriarchal systems, structural inequalities and discriminatory laws have long stalled meaningful progress towards gender equality and women’s rights. For women living in crises such as conflicts, facing recurrent environmental disasters and cyclical financial shocks, the Covid-19 pandemic has come as an additional blow, severely impacting their right to adequate food. Conflict is a key and persistent driver of food system breakdown: more than half of undernourished people live in countries experiencing conflict. Extreme weather, economic shocks and climate change are also prevalent drivers of food crises and greatly affect food systems.
Nestled on a wide plateau surrounded by the Espinhaço Mountains in southeastern Brazil is the city of Belo Horizonte, roughly 275 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. The city of 2.5 million is an industrial and technological hub, which had historically led to stark socioeconomic divisions, including high rates of poverty. But while other similarly situated cities around the globe struggle to meet the basic needs of their residents, Belo Horizonte pioneered a food security system that has effectively eliminated hunger in the city. The entire program requires less than 2% of the city’s annual budget.
The results of a B.C. research project that gave thousands of dollars to homeless people are in and, according to one researcher, could challenge stereotypes about people "living on the margins." The New Leaf project is a joint study started in 2018 by Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and the University of British Columbia. After giving homeless Lower Mainland residents cash payments of $7,500, researchers checked on them over a year to see how they were faring.