Food security is loosely defined as the availability of nutritious food which are obtained in a way that is "socially acceptable (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies)." (usda.gov) There are currently 17.4 million households in America that experience food insecurity.
The reality of the situation is that there are millions of people who go hungry and are unable to provide nutrient dense meals for their families. Veggiecation has always sought to provide families with recipes that are affordable to make eating healthy the efficient option, as well as an easy one. But when a parent struggles to feed their families in general, it's unfair of us to ask people to be selective of what they eat. It's unrealistic. What we can do though, is raise awareness and try to make a small difference while also educating people on the food that's made available to them via food pantries.
We recently spent some time at a food pantry in Brooklyn called Beyond Hunger where an indoor hydroponic garden is run by high school students in an alternative school internship. Beyond Hunger serves 4,500 people a month and is only open to the public two days a week. That means they have roughly 150 households coming through their doors in just one day.
You can tell how much the people who run Beyond Hunger care about this community. Lucy, the program supervisor greets everyone with a smile on her face and makes sure that everyone watches their step as they enter the small lobby. Volunteers direct clients and assist them in their food selection to help keep the pantry organized and efficient. They run nutrition education programs and help enroll people in SNAP.
(Helpful hands blag onions)
They get fresh produce delivered on Mondays and Wednesdays and it's distributed over the course of their two service days, Tuesdays and Thursdays. And although they have the indoor garden, it reaches capacity at 84 heads of bok choy, lettuce, and other leafy greens. When we spoke with the Lucy, she told us what the biggest needs were for her community, one that she's been serving for a while now. Vegetables are in demand but rice, tuna, and peanut butter are the items that run out the fastest.
(Fully stocked before the Thursday rush at Beyond Hunger)
Being able to connect with the people at Beyond Hunger has been an eye opening experience. We were able to demo two recipes over the course of two days and offer ideas on how to use pumpkin and black beans, both of which were being offered on the days that we were there. While we were there to provide simple, healthy, and tasty recipes for the community, we also wanted to get a better idea of what that specific community was in need of because we are going to be hosting an online food drive for Beyond Hunger.
If you're so inclined, please help us help this organization that goes above and beyond for the community is serves. Our online food drive allows you to purchase food items through a store-like website called AmpYourGood, who will then deliver the food to Beyond Hunger on your behalf. We're running this food drive in honor of the Real Food Campaign for Food Day 2015. Click here to make your donation!
"The freedom of man, I contend, is the freedom to eat."
- Eleanor Roosevelt