Food Insecurity with Dr. David Himmelgreen
The Pinellas Young Democrats have chosen Food Insecurity as the issue of the month for May and as such we wanted to pass along some vital information which may open your eyes to what Food Insecurity actually means and what you can do to make life a bit healthier for those facing this issue.
At our most recent PCYD general meeting we welcomed Dr. David Himmelgreen with USF’s newly formed Center for the Advancement of Food Security and Healthy Communities. He was fully prepared with a power point presentation, a ton of valuable insight, and explanation of what communities in the Tampa Bay region face when it comes to Food Insecurity.
What is Food Insecurity?
First, you may or may not know what exactly is meant when the subject of food insecurity is brought up. In conversations I’ve had, even with those in the political community, there seemed to be some confusion as to what is encompassed in the term. Dr. Himmelgreen presented us with his favorite definition of what it means to be food secure: “Access by all members of a household to food sufficient for a healthy life including, at a minimum, the ready availability of nutritional and safe foods, and the ability to acquire them in socially acceptable ways”. Basically, a person should have nutritious food in their community that they can afford and easily access by the transportation available.
How does this affect the individual and communities?
There are many consequences of a person being chronically food insecure including early puberty in girls (which has a whole slew of additional ramifications, including a higher risk of cancer at later ages), increased healthcare costs due to the lack of nutritious food available and, in its place, process foods, high carbohydrates, and refined sugars are typically present, and the cycle of food insecurity that can affect families for generations.
Is there a local example?
In Pinellas County, the Lealman community is a prime example of a food desert. The community lacks a supermarket and the area is considered a poverty zone. The community and county have responded to the lack of healthy food by setting up community vegetable gardens and community pantries. But it is not only lower income communities that find themselves food insecure, more often middle-class individuals and families find themselves in this situation. I know I spend about $100 a week on groceries and I’m just one person. With grocery prices rapidly increasing, I can imagine it hard for a middle or lower middle-class family to budget for healthy items in their diet.
What is being done about this?
There are many local organizations working to assist those who find themselves in this stressful situation. Most notably, an organization formed in partnership with USF and Feeding Tampa Bay, the Hunger Action Alliance. This group is partnering with many corporate and non-profit entities to see how to solve this challenge in our community. Click here for more about Hunger Action Alliance.
OK, What can we do as political junkies?
Yes, there are non-profits and food pantries in our region that are responding to this on a direct level but to affect change in a legislative manner (i.e FUNDING), we can talk to our legislators on a local and federal level. Call your city commissioners, your state representative and senator, and even bug the crap out of Rubio and Scott to get some federal funding to make sure the people in our region are happy and healthy.
Oh, and don’t donate your canned goods to food banks, just give them your money instead. They can spend it better than you.
DISCLAIMER: Unless otherwise stated, the PCYD Blog does not officially express the views of the Pinellas County Young Democrats.
PCYD Member and Pinellas Democratic Party Precinct Committewoman