Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Place at the Table?

On Thursday evening, Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability presented A Place at the Table,

The documentary smacks the viewer in the face with awareness of hunger in contemporary America.

Not very long ago, a contrarian friend took issue with a statement someone (it might have been me) made on facebook about people suffering food insecurity in Arizona. At least that is kind of how I remember it. This friend, in my view, was parsing words. In his view, he was saying that nobody in Arizona starves to death.

Of course, technically, he's probably right. But is that really the point that needs to be made?

The problem of food insecurity in Arizona and in America hides, out of reach of our ready awareness, perhaps because most of us have our own problems, pressures and everyday stresses to worry about. But, as the movie points out, in the 1970s, hunger, or food insecurity, was all but eradicated in our country.

We need to realize the cost to all Americans for letting children go hungry. Long term costs -- most obviously in public health and safety problems -- will far overshadow the immediate cost to make sure all children are well nourished every day.

The near term problem is certainly NOT a lack of food.

After the showing, Greg Peterson from The Urban Farm, Debra Emmanuelle from Green Papillon, Bob Evans from United Food Bank, and Beverly Damore from St. Mary's Food Bank discussed food insecurity in Arizona with a near full house at the Valley Art Theater in Tempe.

From a resource sustainability perspective, Peterson's vision -- to have a garden growing food in every yard -- will make a huge dent in the problem. The movie, however, while discussing the need for a political fix, all too briefly alludes to the bottom line. That is to say, WHY in what we believe to be the richest country in the world*, are so many people living in poverty?

I'm reminded of a saying by Brazilian Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."

What needs to be done to provide a lasting solution?


* When gauged as a measure of Per Capita income, by the latest calculations, the United States is apparently only 7th richest.

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