A place at the table
As we look around the fields and hillsides full of corn and beans, the orchards of fruit, the sprawling gardens, and the herds of livestock all over the county, it’s hard to imagine anyone in our neighborhood would go hungry.
The heartland is called the breadbasket for the world. Iowa is called A Place to Grow. We’ve long been tasked with tilling and harvesting, milking, raising, and selling our products to feed not just Iowans but people around the nation and world.
So what happened?
Experts tell us there are a lot of factors: a spike in food prices in 2008. Land grabs that cause the world to lose an acre of farmland every minute. The fact that most of our food is processed and comes through supermarkets, all of which involves work and transportation, which costs money. It’s not that supermarkets, trucking, food processing or food companies are bad or wrong. Next to agriculture, those industries are Iowa’s lifeblood.
But with all this food growing around us, how can it be that people in our midst, one in eight people overall, and one in five children, go hungry?
What can we do about it?
Downtown Market is one solution. The produce and foodstuffs there from local growers costs money, but farm to table takes out a lot of the middle ground which drives up the cost (and sometimes drives down the nutritional value) of food that originates here in Emmet County.
Mobile food pantries are another solution. Anyone who can use some help with groceries to free up money in the budget for other bills, or who would have trouble getting food some other way, is welcome to stop by again in early August.
The schools have had summer meals to help families with children bridge the budget gap. The Food Bank of Iowa has taken on the challenge of providing needed food to children and families, and they are tackling the challenge of reaching senior citizens in need.
Community meals are another solution, one that has been on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but which we hope will return as soon as it is safely possible.