Posts Tagged: hunger
Los granjeros que solo venden frutas y verduras frescas dependen de los compradores para sus ventas y precios. El equipo de granjas pequeñas de Extensión Cooperativa de la Universidad de California, en los condados de Fresno y Tulare, cree que los granjeros pueden ganar más dinero y llevar su producción un paso adelante si agregan un valor extra a sus productos, al procesar, preservar y empacar sus frutas y verduras.
La asesora de pequeñas granjas de Extensión Cooperativa de UC, Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, el Programa de Investigación y Educación de Agricultura Sustentable de UC (The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program) y la Oficina Estatal para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Económico de Fresno (Fresno State's Office of Community and Economic Development) reunió a un grupo de pequeños granjeros en un taller, el pasado mes de enero, para informarles sobre la existencia de recursos disponibles para ayudarlos a desarrollar negocios con un valor agregado.
“Los productos con un valor agregado pueden mejorar las finanzas de una granja familiar produciendo un ingreso adicional y diversificando la producción”, señaló Dahlquist-Willard. “Queríamos conectar a los granjeros principiantes y granjeros asiáticos del sureste con programas que pudieran ayudarlos a desarrollar productos con un valor agregado en sus granja”.
El taller sobre valor agregado incluyó presentaciones de un granjero que cuenta con un negocio de valor agregado exitoso, agencias gubernamentales y organizaciones no lucrativas. Prestamistas alternativos como Fresno Madera Farm Credit, quienes aportaron los fondos para el taller, también hicieron una presentación sobre los préstamos disponibles para granjeros a baja escala. El asistente agrícola de UCCE, Michael Yang, tradujo las presentaciones al Hmong.
El granjero de productos orgánicos de Kingsburg, Paul Buxman, abrió el taller contando sobre su propia incursión personal en la producción de productos de valor agregado. La historia de Buxman se remonta a 1994 cuando una tormenta de granizo arrasó su granja.
“El granizo marcó toda mi fruta. Contaba con 100 mil libras de ciruelos, duraznos y nectarinas que no pude vender. ¿Qué podía hacer?”, preguntó Buxman. “Una idea me vino a la cabeza como un foco encendido. Toma las frutas, quítales lo maltratado, cocínalas y haz mermelada”.
La nueva aventura no tuvo un éxito instantáneo. Buxman se encontró el primer año entregando la mermelada que no vendió a un albergue de indigentes en el área de la Bahía, justo detrás de un camión de pan.
“No solo de pan vive el hombre”, señaló Buxman, con una sonrisa.
Pero año con año, él y su esposa mejoraron su producto y el mercado creció.
“Esta mermelada es tan adictiva, que es algo casi ilegal”, dijo Buxman. Sus mermeladas hechas en casa Sweet Home Ranch Homemade Preserves tienen un costo de producción de dos dólares por frasco y las vende por cinco cada una.
Buxman les sugirió a los granjeros que asistieron al taller de UCCE tratar de hacer un producto con valor agregado. Los nuevos productos pueden ser especies, para limpieza, manualidades y hasta experiencias, como enseñar una destreza.
“Ustedes tienen mucho más que ofrecer a la gente de lo que se imaginan”, manifestó Buxman.
Durante la subsecuente discusión en el panel, Kiel Schmidt delineó el apoyo que Food Commons Fresno puede proveer. Un importante elemento es la oportunidad que poder rentar la cocina comercial de la organización para crear mercancía con un valor agregado bajo las especificaciones del departamento de salud. Patti Chang, de la Fundación Alimentar a los Hambrientos (Feed the Hunger Foundation). indicó que su organización provee de asistencia técnica y préstamos para nuevas aventuras que puedan cumplir con su misión de reducir el hambre y ayudar a salir de la pobreza.
“Trabajamos con dos mujeres oaxaqueñas de Madera, quienes no deseaban seguir siendo trabajadoras del campo”, dijo Chang. “Querían hacer un producto típico de su cultura: mole. Se convirtieron en un negocio certificado, abrieron una cuenta bancaria en Wells Fargo y un pequeño restaurante dentro de una tienda de abarrotes. Les ayudamos a negociar su arrendamiento”.
Eduardo González, del Centro Estatal de Desarrollo Rural del Valle de San Joaquín en Fresno (Fresno State's San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center) manifestó que su organización puede ayudar a los pequeños empresarios con la mercadotecnia, diseño de su sitio Web y a introducir los productos de valor agregado al mercado.
Dawn Goliik de la Administración para Pequeños Negocios de EUA (U.S. Small Business Administration) informó que esta organización puede ayudar a los pequeños granjeros a iniciar, hacer crecer y administrar un negocio con entrenamiento, tutoría y asesoría.
“Es gratis para ustedes”, afirmó Golik.
El equipo de asesores de granjas de UCCE también cuenta con una asociada comercial, Lorena Ramos, quien puede ser contactada por los granjeros que buscan asesoramiento sobre el desarrollo de productos de valor agregado.
Las presentaciones y consultas uno a uno fueron ofrecidas por una variedad de organizaciones que pueden prestar fondos, incluyendo Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Access + Capital, Northern California Community Loan Fund, California FarmLink, USDA Farm Service Agency y Valley Small Business Development Corporation.
El taller culminó con una presentación sobre la Ley de Comida Casera de California (California's Cottage Food Law), la cual permite a los residentes de este estado procesar y preparar alimentos en las cocinas de sus propias casas para venderlas al público. Algunos de los productos caseros permitidos son las mermeladas jaleas, galletas, pasteles, dulce de leche, frutas secas, verduras y especies. Usted puede encontrar una lista completa de alimentos aprobados en el sitio Web del estado
La ley de Comida Casera se aplica a negocios que tienen ingresos de 50 mil dólares o menos y que no tienen más de un empleado (sin incluir a los miembros del hogar).
“No hay cargos y solo tiene que llenar algunos documentos”, indicó Matthew Gore, de Salud Medioambiental del Condado de Fresno (Fresno County Environmental Health). “No es difícil y estamos aquí para ayudarle con los formularios”.
Dahlquist-Willard señaló que una parte importante de su programa en Extensión Cooperativa de UC son las conexiones que ella y Yang pueden ayudar a los granjeros a hacer con infinidad de servicios ya existentes.
“Instamos a los pequeños granjeros a que se pongan en contacto con nosotros en nuestra oficina de Fresno”, instó la experta.
Información de contactos:
It's a drizzly winter morning, and dozens of volunteers at the San Francisco–Marin Food Bank are slowly breaking down a 2,000-pound sack of whole oats into 1-pound bags, their hair tucked back in neat plastic caps. A decade ago, volunteers were more likely to be boxing up canned foods items. Today, 60 percent of everything ferried out of this warehouse is fresh produce. No soda or chips are in sight, and whole grains like these General Mills oats are standard.
For food banks nationwide to move in a similar healthy direction, coordinated efforts must increase at all levels. It will take leadership like that provided by Feeding America, the national food bank network organization; expanded support for nutrition policies at the local and regional levels; and donor efforts to supply more healthful foods. It's a tall order. But with the growing ranks of the food-insecure and obese, there is more pressure — and desire — than ever to provide low-income families with healthful food and create support for food bank nutrition policies to ensure that happens, says Patricia Crawford, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and director of UC Berkeley's Atkins Center for Weight and Health (CWH), a partnership between the College of Natural Resources and the School of Public Health.
“People managing food banks are taking charge and doing the difficult thing of modifying the healthfulness of the food donations they solicit,” says Karen Webb, a nutritional epidemiologist at CWH. “On the one hand, the food banks want an ample supply of foods to hand out, but they're also advocates for people in our most vulnerable population, so the nutritional quality of that food is important.”
There has been progress, which CWH researchers and their colleagues, at the request of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, have documented in ‘A Movement Toward Nutrition-Focused Food Banking,' an upcoming discussion paper to be released in summer 2014. The report details the evolution of food banking as the number of people served by these organizations jumped a whopping 46 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to Feeding America. Today, 12 percent of the population uses the emergency food system. Driven by increased demand, food banks have shifted from an emergency lifeline to a service filling a chronic need.
While organizations move to provide more healthful food, it's clear that pantry users, or clients, want these foods. A 2011 CWH study asked clients to rank calorie-dense snack-type foods and beverages as well as healthy options by order of preference.
“Food pantry clients ranked the most nutritious foods highest,” says Webb, a co-author of the IOM report. “Those foods are expensive, and they want to receive them. Meat, dairy, and fresh produce are at the top of their list, while soda and candy rank lowest.”
What policy looks like
Getting healthier food into clients' hands requires changes in both policy and practice, but what exactly is a nutrition-driven food policy? Many stakeholders are trying to effect change — food banks and the umbrella groups that support them, organizations and corporations that donate, and state and federal governments — but there are few cohesive policies and common standards to govern how they work together.
To start with, food banks can benefit from formal written guidelines that address the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages that they purchase or acquire from donations, according to the recommendations in the IOM report, whose authors include CWH's Elizabeth Campbell and Michelle Ross, Heather Hudson of the Food Bank of Central New York, and Ken Hecht, formerly with California Food Policy Advocates. A policy should guide the nutritional quality of the food bank's inventory as well as provide data analysis to track how successful the food bank is at distributing foods like produce and limiting unhealthful ones such as processed crackers and chips. Some 56 out of 200 food banks have a policy in place, according to a recent Feeding America survey, but more must be done.
Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) is a policy model, Crawford says. It established a written policy in June 2013, with the help of the nonprofit anti-hunger group MAZON and CWH. The project, which included several other food banks, was funded by Kaiser Permanente.
“We held focus groups with staff members and agency representatives,” says Jenny Lowe, ACCFB's nutrition education manager. “We wanted to get everyone on the same page. We asked, what are our practices? We'd been following this for a long time, but never wrote it down.”
The food bank's policy is now clear. They purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, low-sugar canned fruits, low-salt canned vegetables, low-fat milk, lean proteins, nut butters, beans, whole grains, packaged meals and soup.
“Green” foods are now more readily available at food banks across California because of the California Association of Food Banks' (CAFB) Farm to Family program, which connects state growers and packers to food banks. In 2011, CAFB, a nonprofit, membership-based umbrella group, sponsored AB152, now a state law, which enables farmers to get a 10 percent tax break on the inventory costs of fruits and vegetables they donate.
CAFB exemplifies how agriculture, advocates, and food banks can work together to create policies that incentivize the support system for healthy diets. Since 2005, the group has increased food bank produce donations by 92 million pounds of fruits and vegetables that might have otherwise been plowed under in the fields. “In California, we have a progressive agricultural community as well as progressive food bank organizers,” Crawford says. “It's that convergence that has made California a model and brought national attention to what we're doing.”
Other positive steps: Feeding America appointed a director of nutrition in 2011, and in 2012, it implemented Foods to Encourage, nutrition guidelines for promoting health—the food bank network's first-time effort at national guidelines. It's also running a pilot program that connects food-insecure clients who have Type 2 diabetes with nutrition, health education, and medical care.
Even with successes like these, there's still a long way to go.
Fresh food, new challenges
Six California food banks participated in a 2010–11 CWH study on inventory trends, funded by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. All six had significantly increased the amount of produce they provide to pantries, the study found, but hardy onions and potatoes made up about half of those gains. While the increase in fresh produce was dramatic, getting a variety of vitamins and minerals from different types of produce is key to good nutrition, Webb says.
“Food banks now must tackle the next challenge: adding more colorful yet hardy vegetables, such as bell peppers and broccoli," Webb said.
Part of that challenge is providing better distribution systems to pantries. Many food banks boast state-of-the-art facilities with refrigerated trucks and big walk-in refrigerators, but the pantries they serve are often basement kitchens and church halls with little access to refrigeration or storage. Policy changes must consider how to improve these conditions. For example, ACCFB provides farmers-market style distribution in parking lots to some clients, and both ACCFB and the state of New York help provide pantries with equipment grants to improve facilities.
Crawford notes that both the Central New York and Alameda County food banks have successfully implemented nutrition policies without offending donors or losing support.
Moving nutrition forward
In February 2012, anti-hunger leaders convened in Oakland, Calif., to discuss their findings from the 2010–11 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study. There, CWH and California Food Policy Advocates called for food bank procurement policies that meet or exceed the Foods to Encourage guidelines, which were due to be released later that year.
In the most recent nudge forward, the IOM report recommends that items available through U.S. Department of Agriculture food distribution programs align with key recommendations from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most food that the USDA supplies to food banks is already healthy, a recent study showed, and the agency is moving quickly to further improve nutritional quality by adding items like whole-grain pastas and brown rice. The report also recommends that food banks and advocates work with donors to find new ways to incentivize nutritious donations.
The IOM report represents a formidable increase in visibility for the issue of food bank nutrition, and Crawford wants to take advantage of the momentum. She's calling for a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss how to keep improvements to the emergency food system's nutritional quality moving forward.
Obesity and diabetes risk continue to plague the nation's health, and food banks will face big challenges in the coming year, including an expected rise in the number of clients as a result of the recent $8.6 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps — part of the farm bill passed in February, and as a consequence of California's drought, which is expected to bump up food prices.
“Those of us working in the field of hunger and food insecurity want the best for the people we serve,” Crawford says. “There is a moral imperative to do more than to provide just calories. We must provide foods that will help protect the health of the most vulnerable in our society.”
This article originally appeared in the spring 2014 issue of Breakthroughs, the magazine of the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources.
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
To supplement their food supply, Californians can turn to the CalFresh program, which was formerly known as food stamps. The federal program is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
To help CalFresh participants stretch their food dollars and maintain a nutritious diet, the University of California’s CalFresh Nutrition Education Program offers a series of four workshops called "Plan, Shop, Save and Cook." In a follow-up survey, UC Cooperative Extension advisors Dorothy Smith and Marcel Horowitz found that one-third of the 1,373 people who participated in the workshops said they weren’t running out of food by the end of the month as often.
In the first workshop, people learn the benefits of preparing a balanced meal plan. To do this, they discuss building meals around store specials, foods on-hand and leftovers, while including family favorites.
During the second workshop, participants read the nutrition labels on foods and learn how to make the best nutritional choices while shopping.
In the third workshop, UC CalFresh instructors show the participants how to determine the least expensive options for the items on their grocery list. For example, if buying beef, chuck roast is cheaper and contains less fat than sirloin. Unit pricing, bulk purchases, generic brands, convenience items, alternative protein sources and preventing spoilage and waste are things to consider when choosing food products.
During the final workshop, the participants prepare and taste dishes made with low-cost nutritious foods. They put their new knowledge into practice by creating a one-week meal plan.
In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, UC CalFresh have teamed up with local food banks to encourage families to eat more fruits and vegetables. Using fresh produce from the food banks, UC CalFresh nutrition representatives prepared fruits and vegetables in healthful dishes, which were tasted by participating families.
UC CalFresh is showing Californians that nutritious and tasty meals don’t have to cost a lot.
UC Davis is addressing food security and economic development in Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, and elsewhere, by coordinating an international horticulture program. The Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (Hort CRSP; pronounced "hort crisp") is one of 10 CRSP programs that focus on global food production and solving food and nutrition problems in developing countries. UC Davis leads the Hort CRSP, with funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Examples of projects conducted by researchers and educators throughout the world include:
- Inexpensive cold storage systems in rural, developing areas to prolong food longevity; see page 2
- Concentrated solar drying of fruits and vegetables in East Africa; see page 3
- Improving safety and quality of tomatoes in Nigeria; see page 3
- Smallholder flower production in Honduras for export markets; see page 3
The overarching goals of the Hort CRSP are to reduce poverty and improve nutrition and health of the rural poor, while improving the profitability and sustainability of horticulture in the developing world. Priorities in the Hort CRSP include gender equity, sustainable crop production, postharvest technology, food safety, market access, and financing. The program awards research funding in the U.S. and abroad to:
- Realize opportunities for horticultural development
- Improve food security
- Improve nutrition and human health
- Provide opportunities for income diversification
- Advance economic and social conditions of the rural poor, particularly women
In the three years since the program’s inception, several projects have been completed, and many are ongoing. The program’s website offers a plethora of information, along with newsletters that highlight individual projects.
The program also has a YouTube channel, with videos on Hort CRSP projects. Some of the videos are about projects that are especially important in developing countries, including:
- The TRELLIS project — bringing together graduate students and in-country development organizations; YouTube link
- Using cell phones to give real-time information to growers in rural areas of India; YouTube link
- Inexpensive cultivation practices for smallholder farmers; YouTube link
- Indigenous products increase incomes in Ghana; YouTube link
- Saving indigenous crop seeds in Southeast Asia for resource-poor farmers; YouTube link