I wanted to get down some of my thoughts on hunger and food insecurity prior to this trip I am soon embarking on. For me, right now, hunger is abstract. I have read so much about it- news articles, books, reports, and studies. I have analyzed and organized data, watched documentaries and YouTube videos, talked about it, planned an event around the issue, and, I still don't know hunger. I went to an elementary school in Dallas and talked to kiddos, collecting data on school meals, and I think I got a little bit of a better idea, though I wouldn't say I know hunger. I know that there are 50 million food insecure Americans; I can tell you about the negative impact going to school hungry has on students; I can share with you some displeasing facts about how the government has addressed the issue by simply shifting funds from one federally funded food assistance program to another, but I still don't know hunger. I'm not even sure what would be required or what it would look like to know hunger. I think it can look like a lot of different things, and it is important to know each individual and each family might experience hunger differently from the next. Hunger is complex and tied in to issues of poverty, education, family planning, homelessness and health care, to name a few. As with any issue, we look at it through our own lens, formed from our values and experiences.
My lens is still a bit blurry; the picture is, too. I don't expect that from this trip alone they will become crystal clear, but I think it will help bring the image into better focus. I am hoping to learn more about policy and the perspective of the decision makers in Washington. I think it will be very revealing to volunteer with a couple groups, see hunger firsthand, and act on it. I'm very much looking forward to visiting with different advocacy organizations to hear more about their efforts. To be honest, it is kind of my dream to, at some point in my career, work in DC for a hunger organization or food policy group; something to lend my social work perspective and skills to the political arena. I just can't get this idea from the A Place at the Table book out of my head: "...what if we were to create a Department of Food Policy, as many experts have called for? Such a department, comprising federal and state agencies, would take over the distribution of the food discarded by America's food industry and carry out federal and state policies that provide incentives for supermarkets to open up in food deserts and regulate the advertising of junk food to children on the Internet and all media platforms, as it does with television," (p. 10). What if, eh? I would like to find out.
- From the desk of Mrs. M