In the midst of a bountiful land, many Americans are not sure where their next meal will come from, and others are just plain hungry, writes activist Winne, who wants to supply provisions for people who can’t get the groceries they need and deserve.
There are at least 15 different federal food programs to feed the undernourished, notes the author, yet they are so inadequate that many people suffer from “food insecurity.” Clinging to frayed safety nets, they send their kids to friends and neighbors at mealtime. They employ dumpster-diving as a potluck mode of shopping. But how many grocery bags will they be able to carry on the bus after the last nearby inner-city market leaves? Endemic obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes vex the poor. It’s not only Big Cola and the junk-food forces that are to blame; also at fault are supermarket economics, wavering support of the public sector and, it seems, those of us who don’t set the table with local produce and organic fare. Winne tells of fighting the good food fight for 25 years in Hartford, Conn., and environs. The earnest activist, now living in New Mexico, explains what he and his friends have done in various soup kitchens, food pantries, farmers’ markets, co-ops, food banks and—revivified from World War II—victory gardens. He salts his personal history with pertinent reportage. But he is not a puritanical moralizer passing judgment on anyone “who chooses to pay $30 a month for cable TV rather than shop regularly at Whole Foods,” where $30 buys two pounds of grass-fed beef. What’s needed, avers Winne, is a unified federal program, less dependence on food banks, more slow food and more investment in healthy viands. It boils down to “projects, partners and policy.” Meanwhile, eat your parsnips.
Worthy fare, served with much apple piety.