As many of us sit down for holiday meals with friends and family, one in four Americans are struggling to even put food on the table. These 42 million people are relying on food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as they are know called in most states.
SNAP benefits aren’t completely filling their needs either. With an average benefit of just $4 per day per person, Americans are finding it difficult to eat nutritious meals and are having to cut back on what they can afford to purchase. In my personal experience, my family has given up certain foods and have ditched name brands in favor of less expensive generics. A quick glance at other shopping carts in the grocery store tells me that many other families following suit as well.
As Americans everywhere are struggling to put food on the table, food banks and church food pantries are also seeing all time high numbers of new program participants. My Mother is a volunteer for the food pantry at a local church. In the last month, they “processed” three times the number of people, in comparison to the earlier spring and summer months. The recipients are of all age groups, nationalities, and creeds. Hunger is a equal opportunity problem and the situation is critical.
Sustainable food may well be part of the solution. By this I mean everything from home gardening to the further development of the organic food chain. I do fear the costs associated with getting back to natural food, will be prohibitive at first. But, there are many signs that between the economy and lack of jobs, and the amped up push for greener living, things maybe taking a change for the better.
While there’s already an entire food chain dedicated to sustainable foods, from your standard vegetables, grains and dairy products. Distribution innovations and marketing initiatives are coming together to develop products to assist this growing and necessary niche. These supplementary products include companies that provide packaging that remove the air, mold spores and bacteria from packaging. Since organic food spoils at a faster rate than processed foods due to the lack of preservatives, these new improvements are absolutely necessary. A side effect of these new technologies and products is the creation of much needed jobs.
Another positive sign that sustainable foods are making headway is that there’s actually a Sustainable Foods Summit happening in the first quarter of the new year. The conference is focusing on ethical sourcing, sustainable ingredients, marketing and distribution innovations and other organic strategies.
While the sustainable food industry is making strides promoting everything from chocolate, to wine, and even organic eggnog, help can’t come soon enough for some folks who are just looking for a basic, nutritious meal.