Food: Point A to Point B

I am upset that I live in a land of plenty, have enough to eat, yet I’m surrounded by hungry people. In the communities where I live and work (both Boston suburbs), especially among children, hunger is a daily occurrence. Kids who qualify for school breakfast/lunch don’t have a stable wholesome food source after school; some people I work with struggle to meet basic needs, and some are hungry. Why can’t everyone find healthy, affordable food? Isn’t it a right? How can anyone pursue life, liberty or happiness when they’re hungry?

Last week, I began attending Community Table, a weekly event hosted by Babson College, “a hub for food entrepreneurs and curious eaters to connect, share ideas, and support one another’s work.” It’s an open forum where people can discuss anything food related, and one of the things we discussed is the difficulty of getting investors to invest in food distribution infrastructure. Food distribution is about storage facilities, and multi-purpose buildings, it’s about getting food from point A to point B and all points beyond–it’s the middle of the story, the part everyone just wants to get through to reach the happy ending. Solving the problem of food distribution is not a quick fix or a sleek new app. It’s not “sexy.”

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And I thought (again) that it’s a bad idea to hand over solving the problem(s) of our food system (and healthcare system) to the private sector. The private sector will not solve these problems even though we seem to be driving relentlessly in that direction.

I see 2 “parts” of the private sector­– small agile start-ups creating some great solutions. They are often fueled by idealism and/or a desire to do good and solve intractable human problems and meet needs. But how easy is it for them to get money to “distribute” their solutions? Who do they have to convince that their solution is “worth” the investment?

Then there are corporations/venture capitalists with their relentless bottom line need to make money for shareholders or themselves–making money and making sure all people have healthy food (or healthcare that actually provides health care people want/need–food is medicine after all–but that’s another post) do not usually go together.

They are as many answers to meeting the needs of our neighbors as there are communities–solutions are local, national and global. We do best, and accomplish the most, when we work with what is right in front of us. We don’t have to go outside our neighborhoods. I’ll share my work on food and hunger, over the next several weeks. Sharing our work keeps the networks alive and builds community. What are you doing?

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