“America’s Food System: A Cause for Concern, a Time for Action”
It seems unimaginable that in the richest country on earth, millions of people don't have enough to eat, wonder where their next meal may come from, or pay for other life essentials like housing, utilities, or medicine before they buy food. What would our nation and even our community look like if there were enough food for all, food that promoted health instead of detracting from it?
“It’s hard to believe, but one in seven Americans – 15% of the country – now need government-provided food stamps simply to survive. Nearly 46 million Americans receive food stamps out of a population of some 311 million people. That’s the highest number on record. The continued high unemployment and the weak U.S. economy have contributed to the explosive growth of the food stamp program – with no end in sight to the monthly increases.”
How can a Food Policy Council benefit a city and bring together the municipal leaders to help level the playing field?
Journalist Mark Winne writes "It's great that we are a charitable people, that we endlessly give to the food banks and soup kitchens, but what we need to be doing is holding the policy makers accountable, because they are the ones who can affect the circumstances which cause people to need the food banks in the first place. They are the ones we need to be watching and working with."
Currently no U.S. government entity has a Department of Food, so food-related issues are addressed by various agencies. This severely limits the potential for coordination, and for government to address broad goals such as improving access to healthy foods. Since they bring together a cross-disciplinary group of stakeholders, Food Policy Councils can help to bridge this gap and identify ways to address interconnected issues and improve the food system.
Author Mark Winne tells the story of how America's food gap has widened since the 1960s, and how communities have responded with food banks, farmers' markets, and community gardens. As the demand for fresh food is rising in one population, the rates of obesity and diabetes are rising in another. Why? And what can be done about it?
For over thirty years, Winne has been inside the world of food access and distribution, and has learned much about how local and national policies affect the choices we all have. Mark offers a realistic vision for getting locally produced, healthy food onto everyone's table. Winne was the executive director of the Hartford Food System in Hartford, Connecticut from 1979 to 2003. He is a cofounder and board member of the National Community Food Security Coalition (Portland, Oregon). He was instrumental in the development and passage of the federal Community Food Projects Grant Program and farm-to-school legislation. He now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Mark Winne will be in Bloomington Thursday, September 15, to offer a public presentation at the Bloomington Monroe County Convention Center. Mark will speak from 7-7:45 p.m., and will be available to sign his two most recent books, Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin' Mamas: Fighting Back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture (2010), and Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty (2008). Boxcar Books will host the book signing.
This presentation is free and open to the public.
Prior to his address, he will meet with the Bloomington Food Policy Council and with representatives from around the state interested in forming food policy councils.
Winne’s visit to Bloomington is an event in Lifelong Learning Week 2011: Food for Thought and is sponsored by the Bloomington Lifelong Learning Coalition, Bloomington Food Policy Council, and the Indiana State Department of Health.
"Winne tackles the world of food deserts, hunger relief, and the disparities of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ from both a personal and professional viewpoint that at once educates on and illuminates these very complicated issues, making them and their interrelationships not only understandable but also compelling for all those who care about social justice in our country."—Chef Ann Cooper, author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children.
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