Food Security and Food Banks

Carol Dawne Milligan

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online February 2011 | | DOI:
Food Security and Food Banks

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Food security refers to a state in which adequate amounts of nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate food to support a healthful diet are available, accessible in a socially acceptable manner, and expected to remain accessible. A number of dimensions of food security have been identified, such as the quantity, quality, and variety of foods available and lack of worry about the ability to acquire these foods. There are opposing views of how food security is to be attained: the technologically oriented view favors technological solutions, large-scale agribusiness, globalization, and economy of scale, while the alternative view favors local control over food systems, ecologically sustainable agriculture, and respect for equality and human rights. Locally, food insecurity may result from a lack of purchasing power or from insufficient production or availability of food. With a growing proportion of the world’s population having lost access to traditional lands and therefore to a means of subsistence (and with many having become impoverished labor surplus in urban centers), the cost of food has become more critical to the ability to procure adequate food. At the same time, a downward trend in labor wages and safeguards as well as an upward trend in food prices has plunged increasing numbers of the world’s population into food insecurity, hunger, and starvation. The causes of rising food prices vary and may include increased demand from industrializing nations, competition between using food to feed people and to produce biofuel, climate change, financial speculation in commodities, the costs of increased pollution, competition for scarce land and water resources, and unevenness in the control and subsidization of production and distribution. Estimates in 2010 were that over one billion people—in urban as well as rural areas and in developed as well as developing countries—suffer from food insecurity on a daily basis, and a substantial number of these people die from starvation every year. The obesity epidemic can be tied to food security/insecurity through a number of dimensions, such as the high cost of nutritious produce, meat, and fish; increased consumption of manufactured foods of low or questionable nutritional quality; and a shift of a large segment of the world’s population from rural to more obesogenic urban work and living environments. Food banks are charitable nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in developed countries dedicated to collecting and distributing food free of charge to the needy. Emergency charitable assistance such as food distributed through food banks is not a long-range solution to food insecurity, however. It is not based on entitlement or rights; it does not support economic and community development for the users, enabling them to overcome poverty; and it generally does not provide adequate nutritional value to support health over the long term.

Article.  7906 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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