10 – Ashley H.

Hi, I’m Ashley! I am currently a sophomore and I am double majoring in Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Studies and Sustainability. I am from a small town in Southwest Michigan, and I am very excited to be able to travel to areas I would never be able to visit on my own.

In Australia, I am interested in learning about sustainable agriculture and food systems, and sustainable packaging. I believe that there is an unhealthy reliance on plastic packaging, and processed “junk” foods here in the United States, and I want to change that in my future career. I also want to help fix the problems of food insecurity through providing locally grown fruits and vegetables to people who would not normally be able to afford fresh foods.

My project is over food insecurity in the United States versus Australia. Being food insecure is defined as when a household is uncertain of having or are unable to acquire enough food to sufficiently feed all of the members in the house because of the lack of money or other resources (United States, 2017). The lack of money or other resources is magnified by the increasing prices of nutritious food, growing gaps in household income brackets, and food deserts in large urban areas in the United States, and rural areas in Australia.

In 2017, it was measured that 11.8% of households were food insecure, with 7.3% having low security and 4.5% having very low security (United States, 2017). This is 15.1 million Americans who do not have access to food on a regular basis. In Australia in 2019, 18% of Australian’s were classified as food insecure (Foodbank, 2019). Even though there are only 4 million people in that 18%, 3 out of 4 have very low security. In order to create a more sustainable future, there needs to be not only a sustainable environment, but a sustainable livelihood for all people. In Australia, I want to discover new ideas to help fight food insecurity, and see how people in need are currently being helped.

While in Australia, I discovered a company called FareShare, based out of Melbourne. They rescue food from local grocers and make the donations into 10,000 meals between the two locations (FareShare, 2018). These meals are then donated to local women’s and homeless shelters, and food banks, while maintaining a focus on creating the most nutritious meals that they can. This would all be impossible without the help of volunteers, food donations, monetary donations, and something called the Good Samaritan Act. Because of this act, grocery stores can donate food that they believed to be in good condition without prosecution, and therefore, FareShare receives a great amount of daily donations that they would not have received prior to this act.

I found that an idea like FareShare could be a crucial step in fighting food insecurity in the United States, as we already have our own Good Samaritans Act, that many grocers are unaware of. If these places were to start donating, or donate more than they already do, then more food banks and shelters would be able to have food that is accessible to all people, including the homeless who cannot benefit from the typical canned and boxed food donation.

The most important part of fighting food insecurity is to destigmatize the problem. Most people do not know that food insecurity is even a concept, they only know being healthy and having food, and starvation. With more education on the topic, people will realize how prevalent food insecurity is, and will hopefully want to help fight the problem. There are no warning signs to food insecurity, and someone you know or love may be struggling without you knowing. Once more people understand the problem, more and more things will start being done to combat it.

One way that food insecurity is being fought in Australia is through urban gardening, which are often available to the community.

FareShare. (2018). About Us. Retrieved from https://www.fareshare.net.au/about-us/

Foodbank The Facts, Foodbank Hunger Report. (2019, April 02). Retrieved from https://www.foodbank.org.au/hunger-in-australia/the-facts/

Legal Liabilities for Assistance and Lack of Assistance Rendered by Good Samaritans and Volunteers, James Tibballs (2004).

Rosier, K. (2011, August 04). Food insecurity in Australia: What is it, who experiences it and how can child and family services support families experiencing it? Retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/food-insecurity-australia-what-it-who-experiences-it-and-how-can-child

United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). Key Statistics &
Graphics. Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

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