Hunger exists in the United States. The reason is poverty. The root cause of poverty is powerlessness. Whyhunger uses the titled question as an approach to the solution by connecting communities to resources, while providing immediate access to nutritious emergency food. Bill Ayres, the executive director, co-founded WhyHunger thirty-five years ago to address the urgent need for food by establishing a food hotline and later included a multi-issued platform to build power and self-reliance in impoverished communities in the United States and worldwide. Why is there hunger in a world that can feed itself and how can we solve it? Here are ten things you can do to tackle the root causes of hunger and support long-term solutions at home and abroad.
1. Increase wages for food and farm workers. Farm workers, food processors and restaurant workers are among the most poorly paid in the country—they need a living wage, benefits, protection from wage theft, better working conditions and effective unions. Join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in their Campaign for Fair Food and support the Food Chain Workers’ Alliance.
2. Learn about climate change. Climate change has already caused major disasters in food production through increasingly extreme and erratic weather patterns. Experts estimate that the food system, which is run by fossil fuels, contributes up to half of all greenhouse gas emissions. Read our explanation on the connection.
3. Make our nation healthy again. As a country we spend billions of dollars in healthcare-related costs on preventable diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Advocate prioritizing policy and personal investments in food systems that grow and market healthy foods on a local level. Buy from your local farmers’ market or grocery store. Cook and sit down to eat with your family at least once every day. Join or start a food policy council in your community. For a national listing of food policy councils as well as technical assistance on starting one, go to Foodsecurity.org.
4. Save SNAP. Forty-four million people are on the program (formally Food Stamps)—there would be massive hunger without it—but Republicans want to enforce massive cuts and block grant the program, which would reduce its ability to respond to the next economic crisis. Go to the Food and Research Action Center to learn about the proposed cuts and how to take action.
5. Protect the land, seeds and water. Communities around the world lose millions of acres of farmland every year through land grabs by governments and corporations. The world’s precious supply of fresh water is increasingly being privatized. Much of the world’s agro biodiversity is threatened as corporations patent life forms and increasingly control the world’s seed supply. Join a local or national preservation organization that works to protect these natural resources, boycott bottled water and join the Take Back the Tap campaign, join your local land trust (find one here). Protect farmland by joining your state’s land trust and using the American Farmland Trust’s farmland preservation toolkit. Support seed-saving efforts by joining the Seed Savers Exchange.
6. Support universal free nutritious school meals. Children learn and behave better when they are well fed. Millions of children are hungry and startling numbers are suffering from diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Speak to your school district’s food service director and school board members. Every public school is mandated to have a Wellness Policy. Find out what your school’s Wellness Policy is and organize parents, teachers and students to implement the policies. Go here to learn how.