Posts Tagged: low income
The new World Food Center at UC Davis will take on a broad purview related to food, including sustainable agricultural and environmental practices, food security and safety, hunger, poverty reduction through improved incomes, health and nutrition, population growth, new foods, genomics, food distribution systems, food waste, intellectual property distribution related to food, economic development and new technologies and policies.
With rapid global population growth occurring on smaller amounts of arable land, coupled with the expected impacts of climate change on food production, understanding the sustainability of food into the future is critical.
The new center’s website notes, “The World Food Center at UC Davis takes a ‘big picture’ approach to sustainably solving humanity’s most pressing problems in food and health. By bringing together world-class scientists with innovators, philanthropists and industry and public leaders, the center will generate the kind of visionary knowledge and practical policy solutions that will feed and nurture people for decades to come.”
In establishing the World Food Center, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi said, “We did this to fully capitalize on our depth and expertise as the world’s leading university for education, research and scholarship on all aspects of food, but especially the nexus between food and health.”
UC Davis is the top-ranked agricultural university in the world, and California is the major producer of vegetables and fruit in the nation. Tom Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute and professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis, says of the World Food Center’s location at UC Davis, “There’s no place else that has the right mix of educational programs, research facilities, and the engagement with the state.”
The major academic disciplines surrounding food are found at UC Davis — agriculture, the environment, medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, social and cultural sciences, and management. More than 30 centers and institutes at UC Davis will be pulled together through the World Food Center. The combination of scholarship, leadership, and partnerships at UC Davis has already established the campus as a center for food-related science and outreach. This new center will reinforce that strength and broaden the university’s ability to tackle tough global issues related to food.
Although the founding director of the center has yet to be named, Josette Lewis, Ph.D., was recently appointed as the associate director of the World Food Center. Her background on international research and development for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and director of its Office of Agriculture, honed her skills to take on the World Food Center. It was at US AID that she worked on a major global hunger and food security initiative, establishing her expertise on issues related to global agricultural development and food security.
As the new World Food Center becomes fully developed, it will be well-positioned on campus to continue to solve the major global issues related to food that are a hallmark of UC Davis.
- World Food Center website
- UC Davis video on the World Food Center
- Key facts
- UC Davis Dateline article
- Sacramento Bee article
"Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it . . ."
The words are old and a little hard to understand, but they tell a story that's as true today as when the poet Robert Burns spoke them back in the 1790s. They were old words even then. Always, it seems, there are those of us who are fortunate enough to eat well and those of us who go hungry, even in a country as rich as ours.
One morning last May, I got to meet some folks who help ease that hunger in the community where I live. That morning I drove with my wife to an industrial area on the northeast side of Woodland, California, where the Food Bank of Yolo County does its business. Outside the warehouse door delivery trucks from local markets, chain stores, farms, and other food sources came and went, mingling with buyers' pickups and trailers from churches and other charitable groups.
The big trucks were there to deliver what many retailers would consider marginal goods: bread, dairy products, meats, and canned and dry goods that were moving too slowly off the shelves or getting too close to their sell-by dates; a cardboard harvest bin of loose carrots in the walk-in, donated by a grower who was getting ready to put in a new crop; 50-pound sacks of potatoes or onions that were either too much for the food service market or were set aside by generous handlers or a government agency for exactly the purpose they were about to serve: to feed the hungry.
These days about 35 percent of the stock you can see in this Food Bank warehouse has been donated outright. The rest comes from government agencies or direct purchases from the California Association of Food Banks. A few years ago the directors of the Food Bank of Yolo County shifted their focus toward providing clients with fresher, more nutritious food, and since then they have brought their fresh produce sales from about 50,000 pounds a year up to a high of 1 million pounds in 2010.
That morning in May my wife and I joined other groups of buyers inside the warehouse, each of us picking through the low-priced goods for just the right mix of products to refill the shelves of a soup kitchen or—as in our case—a local food closet. Loaves of bread, a case of canned tomatoes, a box of apples, macaroni and cheese mix, a shrink-wrapped bundle of bags of flour. We loaded our wheeled dolly three times: first came the bread, which a food bank volunteer weighed before we loaded it into the truck; then the produce, likewise weighed on the dolly and loaded; and finally the canned and dry goods, which are priced by the case. Five flats of eggs we put in the pickup's back seat for a smooth ride. For a little less than $100 we got enough food to fill the truck.
A short trip then took us back to the food closet at our church, where 8 or 10 women and men, most of them well into their retirement years, bustled around the edges of the sorting table that filled the middle of the small room, stacking cans on shelves, putting bread, tortillas, and eggs into the refrigerators, doling potatoes, onions, rice, and beans from 50-pound sacks into smaller, consumer-sized bags, and pointing out to me firmly and kindly each time I put a box or bag down in the wrong place. Which was pretty often. Before an hour was up, the closet was stocked and locked up and ready for food distribution the next day. Two distributions a week from our closet alone can serve up to 50 families in need.
There's plenty that you can do, too, to help relieve hunger in your own community. Find your nearest food bank on the California Association of Food Banks website, or ask around to find out about local food closets or soup kitchens.
Then all you need to do is pitch in. If you've got the time, they've got the need.
An inner-city Los Angeles school has a small vegetable garden that is overseen by a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, according to a story published yesterday in the Daily Breeze.
"This may be the only place they can have access to nature," the story quoted Master Gardener Kris Lauritson. "It's an outdoor classroom."
The school serves primarily Latino students; about 80 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches.
The program teaches students about healthy diets and gives them a chance to taste fresh foods they may not normally have at home. Students eat what they grow - turnips and broccoli, lettuce and spinach, soybeans, potatoes and cabbage.
Alice Acevedo, a school office worker observing the students as they worked in the garden, told reporter Douglas Morino the kids won't touch fresh fruits and vegetables put out in the cafeteria at lunch.
"But once they grow it themselves, they can't get enough. They're taking pride in what they're doing," Acevedo was quoted.
Los Angeles County's 181 Master Gardeners volunteered 9,272 hours in 2008, serving 87,376 low-income gardeners at 28 community gardens, 46 school gardens, 15 shelter gardens, 5 senior gardens and 13 fairs and farmers markets. For more information on the program and its services, see the LA Common Ground Web site.
It's worth clicking through to the Daily Breeze to see the photographs that accompany the school garden story. The off-axis, vivid and creative images are uncommon in photojournalism. I asked ANR Communications Services media services manager Mike Poe about the trendy garden art.
He said a lot of hip, cool, current video is shot that way.
"The photos are emulating that style to appeal to a young audience or indicate the subject is young," Poe said. "It's a technique I'd use very judiciously."
The school garden story and photos also appeared in the Pasadena Star-News.
LA's 2008 Master Gardener graduates.
The prime reason: low-income areas aren't served by large supermarkets, forcing people with limited transportation to purchase staples like bread and milk at corner markets and convenience stores.
The first expert cited in the lengthy piece was UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Connie Schneider.
She said poor people know they are paying exorbitant prices for food at small stores, but the next opportunity to shop at a supermarket could be weeks away.
"When you're hungry, you're looking at something to fill a stomach," Schneider was quoted.
Fresno Bee writers Barbara Anderson and Bethany Clough delineated the fallout from inadequate access to healthy food:
- The risk of obesity and chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, increases, straining health-care resources
- Children without proper nutrition become sicker, stay sick longer and miss more days of school
- Lower academic performance leads to higher dropout rates and to more adults without the skills necessary to secure well-paying jobs
The story seems to have struck a cord with area readers. As of Monday morning, 25 comments had been posted, many of them expressing frustration at being faced with a problem that has no easy solution.
Wrote one: "Maybe the two writers of this article could open a grocery store in a poor neighborhood. They could then sell healthy food for a loss instead of implying that the major chains are somehow at fault for not doing so. Contrary to what the writers seem to think, grocery stores are not charities. The stores actually have to show a profit to stay in business."