Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Hunger, Food Safety, and Food Justice

-- New York Times
"On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order that would increase both the amount of federal food assistance for about 12 million people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (also known as food stamps), and the grocery money given to families with school-age children. He has also included more money for food stamps and other federal feeding programs in his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package."

During the pandemic, I've been extremely aware of many pressing food issues: above all, the skyrocketing food insecurity throughout the country and terrible conditions for workers in meat-packing plants. An article in today's New York Times, "How America’s Food System Could Change Under Biden" by Kim Severson discusses the changes that are already beginning to affect these issues.

The terrible abuse of workers in many industrial food processing plants has concerned me so painfully that we have stopped buying red meat. The disastrous toll of the disease on workers in the huge meat-packing plants that supply most of the meat that's sold in supermarkets in the US is shameful. This issue, "protecting Agriculture Department employees and people who process the nation’s food from the virus" tops the list priorities of Tom Vilsack, who appears to be Biden's choice for Agriculture Secretary (but isn't officially designated).

Hunger relief, along with fighting for social justice and addressing climate change, are among Biden's big issues as well. School lunch programs, support for food pantries, distribution of food boxes to needy families, and many such issues have become especially important as the pandemic has greatly increased poverty: "The number of Americans who face hunger rose by some estimates to more than 50 million in 2020, from about 34 million in 2019." Help for farmers, such as equitable farm subsidies and policies, is another big issue, including support for regional agriculture and improvements in policy regarding organic agriculture. 

All the challenges require improving the situation of the workers at the Department of Agriculture, which has been politicized and made less effective by intentionally destructive policies in the former administration. Agriculture has "a budget of $153 billion and nearly 100,000 employees," and it "runs 29 agencies and offices whose jobs range from feeding the poorest Americans and regulating what public schoolchildren eat to managing forests and helping farmers sell commodities like soybeans abroad." 

Fixing all these problems is a big deal!

For months, I've been worrying about these and other food issues that were made worse by the double impact of terrible government policies and the pandemic. I have new hope!

Blog post © 2021 by mae sander, photo and quotes from article, as attributed.

14 comments:

Kitchen Riffs said...

What a great post! Things in the food industry have really become a mess. But I have new hope, too!

Angie's Recipes said...

This is AWESOME!

Divers and Sundry said...

"Fixing all these problems is a big deal!" Yes, indeed. I have hope that this administration will at least try.

DVArtist said...

Isn't it nice to have a positive post about our president. I agree, the food issues in our country can be horrible. Biden has so much on his plate, ha ha.

Cloudia said...

New Hope! I feel good about the future again!

Tandy | Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com) said...

Let's hope your hope is well founded!

Jeanie said...

The thing that gets me about Biden (in a good way) is that he really seems to care. It doesn't seem fake or for the camera -- that his heart and soul and sense of equity goes deep in his soul. In no way is that more important than feeding our hungry. I hope he can pull it all off. If it was just him, no problem. But so many want to undermine.

Iris Flavia said...

Yes. We had a huge outburst in the news on a meat factory with Covid in Ger many.
For two days, never heard of it again.
People go for cheap meat and don´t think about it, not all, but still way too many.

Beth F said...

I've been following this too

David M. Gascoigne, said...

We gave up on red meat a couple of years ago. Beef especially is a huge issue with destruction of the Amazon rainforest for cattle ranching, and the volume of methane emitted by cattle.

judee said...

Mae,
During the Covid pandemic you have been seeing us reminded of the concerns for workers in the meat industry. Thank you. I think it is commendable that you have refused to buy meat during this crisis.
I continue to be concerned about the ongoing environmental costs of a growing meat industry. and the problems with the deplorable conditions for the animals. My father was a Federal meat inspector and you would not want to hear the stories he told us of what meat houses did to try to salvage rotting meat to still sell it to the consumers. Great post..

Laurie C said...

Food issues often seem to get left to the First Ladies, so I’m glad to know that these issues are being taken seriously by the administration.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I’m leaving this generic message so you don’t think I’m a flake. I didn’t feel good Friday, and when I woke, the entire area around the eye that got damaged last summer had swollen so badly, I couldn’t open it. After speaking with the vision specialist, the soonest I can get in is Monday morning. I am not to wear the eye patch I was given in case it might exacerbate the swelling, but I am to take the eyedrops I was given from before. Thanks for understanding why I haven’t been to visit you.

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

Thanks for this enlightening post. The pandemic has hightlighted the ongoing problem of food insecurity, something I hope we as a nation will finally address.