I recently watched the documentary “A Place at the Table”, which highlights the concept of a food desert. The documentary follows the lives of a few different characters, including a single mother living in Philadelphia, and a middle school student from Colorado. All the people shown, even though they’re from much different places, face the same issue of not having sufficient access to fresh, healthy foods, and as a result end up having to opt for packaged and processed snacks and “instant meals” (e.g. ramen noodles, microwaveable mac n’ cheese, etc) on a daily basis. The documentary also addressed the role of the U.S. government in the people’s health; the limitations that a “food stamp diet” has on the intake of needed nutrients, the lack of sufficient funding for quality meals in schools, and the effects of all these factors on our performance and functioning as a nation.
This documentary certainly opened my eyes to the fact that the word “starving” can have multiple meanings. Even though the poverty and starvation present in the U.S. isn't as severe as it is in other parts of the world, there are definitely people in the U.S. who don’t have access to food, and struggle daily to put something on the table for their families. Adding to this problem is the fact that many have to travel farther to get to a supermarket than to get to convenience store, and as a result, many kids are more accustomed to snacking on chips or cookies after school than on other healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables. The most interesting part of it is this: The problem isn't that America doesn't have enough food; in fact there is MORE than enough. ACCESS is the problem, and the fact that farm subsidies are going towards the wrong kinds of foods worsens it; in recent years, the prices of processed foods have plummeted, while those of fresh organic foods have skyrocketed. Lawmakers and even presidents in the past (including our current one) have tried to address the issue of food insecurity and use their positions to fix the problem, but sadly, these aren't the kinds of issues that are prioritized but the government as a whole. It will take much more manpower and involvement to open more peoples’ eyes to the issue, so that better and lasting initiatives can be taken to improve widespread access to healthy foods, because there are millions of Americans who face the issue every day.