by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Hunger

Mar 6 2020

Weekend reading: More on food banks

Rebecca de Souza.  Feeding the Other: Whiteness, Privilege, and Neoliberal Stigma in Food Pantries.  MIT Press, 2019.

This must be the season for books about food banking (see last week’s Weekend Reading).

Rebecca de Souza explains her book as about

food justice and, more precisely, the stigmatizing narratives that surround people who are hungry and food insecure…I argue that stigmatizing narratives about those who are hungry and food insecure—that is, poor people, women, and racial minorities—serve to uphold and legitimize the unjust food system.  I use the term neoliberal stigma to refer to a particular kind of Western and American narrative that focuses on individualism, hard work, and personal responsibility as defining attributes of human dignity and citizenship.  When people do not live up to these parameters, for reasons out of their control, they are marked as irresponsible, unworthy, and “bad citizens,” creating the “Us and Them” phenomenon.

She demonstrates these concepts through observations of two food pantries in Duluth, Minnesota.

 

Tags: ,
Feb 28 2020

Weekend reading: Food Banks and their Discontents

Graham Riches.  Food Bank Nations: Poverty, Corporate Charity, and the Right to Food.  Routledge, 2018.

I’m not sure how I missed this one when it came out.  It’s really good.

It is a tough analysis of the politics of charitable food—the institutionalized use of corporate food waste to feed hungry people, largely in OECD countries but also in the U.S.

  • The analysis is seen in chapter subtitles, for example:
  • Corporate capture: hunger as a charitable business
  • Shaming the hungry, regulating the poor
  • The “dark side” of food banking
  • The corporate food charity state
  • Food, as a matter of human rights

The solution?  Put rights and politics back into hunger.  The book gives examples of how to do this.

Tags: ,
Jul 16 2019

Should Food Banks accept donations of Soylent?

I recently received an email from a public relations representative of Soylent, the company that makes those powdered meal replacements.  My NYU department once conducted a Soylent tasting. Our conclusion: it may meet nutritional requirements, but it tastes like uncooked pancake batter.

Soylent is pushing hard to get its products into your hands.

Hence the PR announcement that Soylent was donating 100,000 meal replacement packages to New York City’s Island Harvest Food Bank and City Harvest, “as part of their #SoylentForGood initiative.”

Donating Soylent to Food Banks?

Food Banks accepting donations of Soylent?

I had trouble getting my head around this so I wrote the PR person to check whether the donations were Soylent products or real foods and meals.

Soylent, of course.

Making sure that hungry people get fed is unarguably a Good Thing, but needs consideration about choice, dignity, the kind of society we want to live in, and, not least, food quality.

Soylent as a means to feed the hungry?

The mind boggles.

 

Tags:
Jun 6 2019

Food industry: efforts to fight hunger?

I keep saying that food companies are not social service or public health agencies and should not be viewed as such.  They are businesses, and everything they do must aim to promote sales and returns to investors.

BakeryandSnacks.com, an industry newsletter to which I subscribe, has collected several of its articles on the anti-hunger activities of its member companies.  Is this public health or public relations?  Read and decide.

Jan 20 2017

Weekend reading: Caring about Hunger

George Kent.  Caring about Hunger.  Irene Publishing, 2016

Kent is a former professor of political science at the University of Hawai’i who in his retirement is teaching at the University of Sydney in Australia and Saybrook University in California.  His book is about the causes of hunger and how to overcome them.   He’s been at this for a long time and can boil the causes down to brief summaries.

  • Disjunction: Hunger and poverty persist largely because the people who have the power to solve the problems are not the ones who have the problems.
  • Compassion: On the whole, the people who have the power do not have much compassion for the powerless.
  • Material interests: The powerful serve mainly the powerful, not the powerless, because the powerless cannot do much for the benefit of the powerful.

Much of the book focuses on compassion and what he calls “caring.”

  • Hunger is less likely to occur where people care about one another’s well being.
  • Caring behavior is strengthened when people work and play together.
  • Hunger in any community is likely to be reduced by encouraging people to work and play together, especially in food-related activities.

He gives plenty of examples of how to make all this work.

Utopian?  Yes, but we need to start somewhere.

Tags: ,
Nov 28 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: three reports on hunger and politics

New York City’s Coalition Against Hunger has issued a new report on the city’s Superstorm of Hunger.

SQuoP14DmlZq2y-ozEVi8m4Ah8gVTM6-2_vH5G2qWaM

Bread for the World’s offers its 2014 Hunger Report: Ending Hunger in America

It comes with an Infographic summarizing the principal action points:

  • Create good jobs
  • Invest in people
  • Strengthen the safety net
  • Build strong partnerships

And Circa provides an illustrated, interactive (check the links!) account of an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation of how lobbyists and tax dollars affect the cost of your thanksgiving dinner.

The bottom line: Agribusiness spent $71 million on campaign contributions and $95 million on lobbying in 2012.  For example:

The National Turkey Federation — a member of an agricultural businesses coalition —has given $1.37 million in campaign contributions since 1989, focused mainly on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The group has also spent $3.58 million on lobbying during that time, taking aim at laws for turkey exports and antibiotic rules.

Enjoy your dinner!

Nov 15 2013

Weekend viewing: new films in the making

I’ve gotten announcements about two films in the making.  Both are worth a look.

Gleason Ranch: Risking Everything.  This is about

a family struggling to salvage their relationships and their 150 year-old, 5th-generation family ranch in Bodega, California. The project began four years ago with the intention of documenting the everyday difficulties of maintaining a family farm. Now, however, it has turned into a much larger, much more personal story of loss, life, pain, and resilience.

What Does 48 Million Hungry People Look Like?

This is a 78-second animated video aimed at getting people energized about ending hunger in America.  It’s a follow-up to A Place at the Table and an introduction to the faces and stories of SNAP alumni.  I’m guessing a longer version will follow soon.  In the meantime, have a look.

Jun 14 2013

Music for the weekend: Jen Chapin’s video “Feed Your Baby”

I was sent a press release this week: “Thought this evocative and provocative song/video “Feed Your Baby” about our broken food system by Jen Chapin (daughter of the late great Harry Chapin) might interest you.”

It did.

I thought the drawings were gorgeous.  But I couldn’t understand the words.

When I complained, they sent them and promised to get the words posted on YouTube.

“Feed Your Baby” (words & music by Jen Chapin)

city shut down the B84
was our only good ride to the grocery store
paycheck goes to the glucose strip
patience goes to the 95 minute bus trip
30 hour week — I wish they’d give me more
and I wonder what it’s all for
when I can’t feed my baby no more

worry worry work and cry
full warm breast goes limp and dry
wilted leaves still priced too high
red raw fingers fill the sack
raid the trailers send them back
silos rotting still I lack
enough to feed my baby
its tough to feed my baby

Granma grew her yams in the yard
in the Carib sun chile it’s not so hard
but she traded that sun for the cold and the cash
strong hands picking up office trash
you never dig dirt with a new green card
but her fingers still ache for the yard
now that feeding her baby’s so hard

worry worry work and cry
full warm breast goes limp and dry
wilted leaves still priced too high
red raw fingers fill the sack
raid the trailers send them back
silos rotting still I lack
enough to feed my baby
its tough to feed my baby

junk food minefield on the tv
dinnertime battle him against me
change the channel try not to see
starvation
still starvation
in the 21st century

worry worry work and cry
full warm breast goes limp and dry
wilted leaves still priced too high
red raw fingers fill the sack
raid the trailers send them back
silos rotting still I lack
enough to feed my baby
its tough to feed my baby

Here’s what the press release says this is about:

Chapin says, “I’ve been thinking about food justice issues for as long as I can remember, but it was only when I became a mother (and a mother of an exhaustingly picky eater in my 2nd son Van, at that) that my ideas coalesced into a song.

Being responsible for the nourishment of small children really brings it all into stark and harrowing detail and you experience the joys and heartbreaks of our industrial food system in a new way — the good and the bad, the plentiful and the scarce, the gorgeously natural and the mindlessly over-processed.

Maria Eugênia (with animation assistance by Nick Matias) brought all these contrasts, and really, a lot of the heartbreak, to their powerful video.  

Tags: ,