By December 31, 2012 4 Comments Read More →

Empowering Local Farmers to End Hunger

Anna Hunt, Staff Writer
Waking Times 

Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet, is an avid believer that a democracy that can empower its citizens to become involved in providing the community’s life essentials may be just want society needs to address the urgent issue of hunger.

In Brazil, Belo Horizonte, the fourth largest city, is an example of a community that has involved its citizens in the design and implementation of a new food system. Motivated by statistics such as 11% of the population living in poverty and 20% of the city’s children going hungry, mayor Patrus Ananias launched a new “food-as-a-right” policy, which focused on food security for all. Initiatives such as allocating public space for the sale of fresh produce from local farmers helped address the interests of farmers as well as the public. Farmers were able to bypass costly wholesaler and distribution costs, while being offered prime retail space in urban areas. The public, in turn, has easy access to inexpensive, high-quality, locally-grown foods.

Today, 34 “ABC” markets – “food at low prices” – exist in Belo Horizonte. The city is involved in setting below-market prices for about 20 foods offered at these markets, presenting shoppers with low-cost options of locally-grown, healthy, fresh products. Vendors are allowed to sell all other products at market prices. In order to secure a spot at an “ABC” market, the farmers must also commit to transporting and offering their produce to poor neighborhoods outside of the city center.

Other initiatives that stemmed from the “food-as-a-right” policy were: the creation of “People’s Restaurants,” serving about 12000+ people each day with 50-cent meals made from locally-grown foods, facilitating the development of urban gardens throughout communities and schools, and educating the public about nutrition and food prices. Additionally, federal funds spent on school lunches are now allocated to local farmers, versus processed, packaged foods.

In most communities, public policy is currently ineffective in addressing issues surrounding the food supply and hunger, but Belo is an example that solutions exist when communities and government work together in mutual respect. Adriana Aranha, former manager within the Belo city agency that administers the “food-as-a-right” policy, states, “We’re showing that the state doesn’t have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels for people to find solutions themselves.” (Yes Magazine)

In Belo, the unified effort of the community has been a strong foundation for this public effort to end hunger. This concept of community and supporting each other’s food needs is innate in human nature, and it is only during the last few thousand years that we’ve converted to a more selfish disposition. The city’s initiatives now benefit about 40% of the city’s 2.5 million inhabitants, while costing it only 2% of its annual budget. Aranha adds, “Everyone in our city benefits if all of us have access to good food, so—like health care or education—quality food for all is a public good.” (Yes Magazine)

Here in the United States, the richest country in the world, in 2010, about 15% of households in the US, or 1 in 7, were “food insecure”, and almost 1 in 5 children are at a risk of hunger (worldhunger.org). In the US, the National School Lunch Program offers low-cost or free lunches to 31 million children each day (USDA). Yet, about 96 billion pounds of food is thrown out by retailers, restaurants and households in the US each year (USDA). And as the economy deteriorates and food prices rise, this will become an even more pressing issue.

In the complex and well-populated world that we live in today, it is difficult to find solutions to basic problems such as hunger, and even more difficult to balance private sector interests with government influence into ‘free’ markets. Perhaps an example can be taken from Belo Horizante where the government simply opened some doors and empowered local farmers to meet the needs of the community.

About the Author

Anna Hunt is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in research and editorial writing. She and her husband run a preparedness e-store outlet at www.offgridoutpost.com, offering GMO-free storable food and emergency kits. Anna is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Read more of her excellent articles here.

Sources:
http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/food-for-everyone/the-city-that-ended-hunger
http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/aboutlunch/NSLPFactSheet.pdf
http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-hunger-us#

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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4 Comments on "Empowering Local Farmers to End Hunger"

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  1. Al Smith says:

    No one person or group has all the best solutions to Humanity’s ever growing list of issues. But, certainly, we all do. Nothing will ever change for the benefit of Humanity until We all start to regularly participate in a publicly owned system of real democracy, such as http://www.MajorityVoice.org or one like it. As long as We leave Our decisions in the hands of elected representatives, they will continue to be bought off or extorted into favoring the agenda of the elite banksters (pretend-Jews, Khazarian Zionists) who now legally, but unlawfully own their “free” world and Us.

  2. dimitri says:

    Democracy is a failed experiment. We don’t need and should not want any government, even an elected one, “facilitating”, in other words “permitting”, either food supply, education, health or any other social interaction. Allowing that to happen is a clear surrender of the liberty to do as the individual chooses. This puff piece about Belo Horizonte sounds a whole lot like of some weird kind of brotherly love is going on, but it’s not. What has happened is that the control of food there has been handed over to the state. The state will play nice for as long as it gets good reviews. As soon as the press leaves all sorts of regulations and fees and bureaucratic strangleholds will economically destroy the indigenous farmers. It happens every time. Thus this article can easily be relegated to the Propaganda File.

  3. hp says:

    Another perfect lesson for all the kids and young people to hear about and know and talk among themselves about.

    Is there anything the government or pretend authorities do which is helpful?

    Practically everything is illegal, or pending.

  4. Peter Burmeister says:

    There is virtually no reason for people to be “food insecure.” Even in the inner city people can raise their the majority of their own food. It is already being done, but not on a sufficient scale. Instead of programs like the one described, we need initiatives to teach people how to take care of their own food needs. governmental setting of artificial prices for food is never going to work. People need to understand that healthy food comes with a price. Either they have to pay the price, or grow their own food. Any other scenario is contrary to nature and ultimately is doomed to fail.

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