WhyHunger staff recently came together to discuss ways we’d like to see the food justice movement advance in 2015 to increase food security and equality. Below are a few actions that anyone can take to help address root causes of hunger and move towards change.
1. Volunteer in February (or May) Many people like to volunteer on Thanksgiving or during the holidays, but food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens need dedicated volunteers year-round. Start a new tradition and sign up to help on a different day, like Arbor Day, or your birthday. There is also a need for volunteers with specialized skills, such as accounting, social media or website design. If you have something unique to offer, talk to the organization to see how you can get involved. Also, consider hosting a virtual food drive or a cash drive to make a financial donation to your local emergency food provider. Food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens can purchase food in bulk, which means that a dollar donated can go many times farther than a dollar spent on cans for a food drive.
Be an advocate and support a living minimum wage petition. Research shows that hunger in the U.S. is not an issue of production or distribution, but rather issues of poverty and inequality. Food is a basic need but it is also one of the costs most easily negotiated on a daily basis. Medical bills, child care, transportation to and from work, rent and utilities are all costs that are generally fixed. If every American was paid a living wage so that two full-time working adults could afford to support a family – we would see hunger in the US dramatically drop.
Who is hungry and food insecure in this country? Food workers, children and the elderly, and our neighbors. Use your voice and resources to make hunger visible to your family and friends by sharing information about organizations like ROC-NY and campaigns such as the Fair Food Program that are fighting for dignity and humane conditions in the workplace. You can also host a viewing of the Food Chains film or share graphics on social media to spread the word.
4. Reduce Food Waste It has been reported that billions of pounds of good, edible food go to waste each year, which means that nearly 40 percent of all food that is grown, harvested and produced is filling landfills rather than feeding people. This has to, and can be, fixed. There are easy ways you can help reverse this troubling trend to the benefit of all our communities and those who are hungry. You can cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more, compost food scraps rather than throwing them away, and more.
5. Protect the Environment Erratic weather and natural disasters as a result of climate change threaten the food supply for the long-term and can create short-term food shortage emergencies. How we produce food in concert with the local ecology is crucial. You can help protect the food system by buying from environmentally conscious companies, patronizing local farmers and supporting anti-fracking initiatives to protect our water.