Food@100% means all our families are fed and food insecurity is history.
Inside The Center
Here’s a quick overview of what you will find below.
What Families Face
Short stories from families facing challenges, illustrating the need to address barriers to vital services.
10 Innovations Await
The sidebar menu takes you to ten innovations areas, each one providing projects action team members are implementing to remove barriers to services.
The Root Causes
We provide an overview of why families struggle to access vital services in what we might call “normal times” and in times of public health or economic crisis.
A Pandemic’s Impact on services
A brief review of how the pandemic impacts each county across the state.
Where on Earth
How solutions exist today.
The Center’s Mission
Food Security for 100%
Welcome to the Center for Food@100%, the nation’s first center to provide county and city stakeholders with research, data-driven strategies, insights and support to end hunger and food insecurity on a countywide scale, ensuring all resident’s food needs are met. Hunger has been with us for as long as we have been strolling the planet. In the last few hundred years societies of all sizes have found ways to hunt animals, grow food and secure drinking water to survive. While nature can be a cause for lack of food, in modern societies the cause can often be tracked down to lack of investment in the human capital and resources to secure a healthy food supply. In the USA, a country with vast amounts of wealth and resources, an entire food industry produces more than enough food to make food insecurity history.
One quick online search will overwhelm you with solutions to the food insecurity problem. The enormous number of results shows that there are many people searching for answers, interested in understanding the root causes of hunger and how to solve it.
When we begin to “Google it” for results:
Ending hunger in America: 21,800,000
Causes of hunger: 29,100,000
Task forces on ending hunger: 49,300,000
Businesses ending hunger: 27,200,000
Impact of technology on food security: 377,000,000
Amid the clutter, solutions await
“Hunger is a man-made problem, not an act of nature, requiring human ingenuity to solve.”
— From the book Food@100%: How we ensure all county residents can access healthy foods
What Families Face
*These are fictionalized profiles based on real New Mexican residents.
Jen and Marie's Story
It’s Time For Heroic Acts
You are about to review approximately twenty projects within 10 innovation areas that can, if done successfully, improve the quality and accessibility of current services. The long-term goal of these innovations and projects is to ensure that 100% of county residents have access to this vital service. Your task is to review all projects, individually and as part of an action team, to identify which one you wish to implement. In the time it takes to enjoy a grande latte, you can give our menu of innovations a quick read, starting with Innovation #1: Tracking Supply and Demand and ending with Innovation #10: Developing the City Dept. of Food. These include projects initiated by action teams focus on a county and all the communities within its borders.
Hunger has a long history
Food insecurity is impacting our most vulnerable children and families with consequences for education, job readiness and public trust of government.
Food Insecurity Faces Us All
FOOD HAS EVERYTHING to do with our health. If we eat right, we function better and we are healthier. If our food supply is threatened, we are in serious trouble.
Every county has residents experiencing food insecurity, and some have segments of the population reporting hunger at least once during the month. In times of crisis, access to food becomes even more critical, particularly for families who rely on schools or other government programs to provide meals for their kids.
In the Center for Food@100% (and corresponding chapter in the book 100% Community) we provide an overview of a very complicated system and its numerous challenges, as well as food support programs. Get ready to be inspired. We will guide you through all the steps needed to put ideas for addressing food insecurity into action.
With literally millions of people reading articles on food security and thousands of foundations, governmental and non-governmental organizations focusing for decades on ending food insecurity in the United States, why is hunger still so nationally prevalent? Why are students arriving at school hungry? Why do parents working full time not have enough money for a month’s worth of groceries? Why do food banks run out of food?
We don’t mean to question our good-hearted leaders in political, academic and philanthropic circles, but there appears to be a complete disconnect between those who claim to have answers and the actual implementation of solutions to ensure 100% of our residents are food secure. What are our morals, ethics and values that allow hunger to exist amid so much abundance?
What kind of society throws out enough edible food to more than prevent hunger in our most vulnerable families? If we ever needed a public and private sector solution to food insecurity, this is the moment.
Some of us grew up with TV commercials asking that we send money to poverty-stricken counties across the globe to address hunger. Plenty of websites and organizations still ask. You may notice that there is no mention of why the elected leaders of these democratic countries are not feeding their people. Truly, why are we all not asking, “What is the root cause of hunger in the US and around the world?”
What We Know
Our county survey will tell you why families struggle to access food security programs. Reasons include lack of programs, no transport to programs, unaware of programs and unfriendly hours.
Who’s hungry and why?
Food insecurity has many causes
With millions of our fellow Americans on food stamps, and food pantries the fixtures of communities that they are, it seems inconceivable that kids in our country suffer from hunger.
In fact, the reality on the ground has been, up to now, difficult to gauge when it comes to specifically measuring food insecurity in communities. Are lots of kids starving to death out there in the USA? This is an important question, but the real question is, “What does hunger look like?” Four children walking to school may not conjure up images of malnutrition to many of us. However, we don’t know how long it’s been since each had their last meal. What percentage of malnutrition is acceptable? Would you be okay not eating for 24 hours?
“Why can’t everyone buy their own food?”
Plenty of children live in households where money is so tight that parents have a hard time picking up where the equivalent of food stamps leave off. (Your state student surveys funded by the CDC on health risks will most likely tell you how many kids are experiencing hunger monthly, and this is a data point every ACEs prevention program needs to be on top of.) That can translate into skipping meals or eating poorly balanced meals. And even if there’s a food pantry that stands ready to help, it’s not guaranteed that mom or dad will have the logistical capacity to pick up the groceries.
Meanwhile, we (via grocery stores) throw away large percentages of our food due to spoilage or because it didn’t look quite appetizing though it was perfectly healthy. Luckily, there are solutions to this particular logistical problem you can implement in your county.
We ask: what are the root causes of hunger and food insecurity?
The list covers a range of causes and solutions.
- Life catastrophe: People lose their jobs and even houses for a variety of reasons all the time. Maybe the bills pile up and bankruptcy is the only way out. Maybe they pay their bills but then there’s no money at the end of the month for food. Maybe an illness knocks out their income stream. Maybe a mental health breakdown does the same thing.
- Relationship catastrophe: Breakups and divorce can throw people into an unstable situation, especially if one partner was dependent on the other’s income to buy food.
- Responsibility: Governments on the federal, state and local levels have not seen it as their role to ensure that all residents have access to food.
- Low wages: Employers don’t have to pay wages that allow a full time worker to afford food throughout the month.
- Job availability: When the economy dips, there are not enough jobs for everyone who wants one, hence no money for food. Or in boom economies, people may not have job readiness.
- Mental health challenges: Folks with mental health challenges can’t always hold down full time jobs.
- Troubles at home: Kids living in homes where parents are struggling for a wide variety of reasons including trauma, will report hunger every month on the national student surveys.
- Trapped teens: Teens having to leave unsafe home environments without the resources to be self-sufficient.
With data from the 100% New Mexico Survey and other surveying, you have a good idea about where in your county food insecurity exists and why. While global, national and state data on hunger is interesting (and deeply troubling), the real data that informs your work are generated by your 100% Community initiative, and dive deep into local communities within your county borders. You may find that hunger is seasonal, with more students reporting it during summer when not in school. Then again, you may be surprised by your survey results and learn that a challenge is far bigger or smaller or more localized than originally thought.
Ensuring Services: A Local Challenge
People face different levels of hardship and risk during a pandemic directly related to their level of access to the 10 vital services for surviving and thriving. Inaccessible medical care, a lack of housing and food programs, and greatly increased joblessness during the associated economic downturn take a tremendous toll on families. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A Pandemic’s Impact on Services
Vital Questions Require Answers
In so-called “normal” times before the COVID-19 pandemic, health disparities were a fixture of our society. The pandemic has only increased the stresses on the health care systems as well as created more urgency for people to have timely access to prevention and treatment. The most pressing questions for your city, county and state elected leaders and stakeholders include:
- How do we collect, analyze and publish the most timely data to guide prevention strategies?
- How do we ensure enough COVID-19 tests and testing sites?
- How do we ensure providers have the protective equipment required to be safe?
- How do we ensure enough contact tracing?
- How do we prevent homelessness and hunger if people in lock down or quarantine lose their job?
- How do we strengthen mask-wearing and social distancing?
- How do we ensure treatment, both hospital beds and providers?
- How do we distribute the vaccine with buy-in from the public?
- How do we address depression and trauma by ensuring access to behavioral health care?
- How are vital family services for surviving and thriving made accessible to 100% of residents?
As you can see, question #10 places access to ten vital services into a comprehensive state and local strategy to prevent the pandemic. The 100% New Mexico initiative’s framework for ending barriers to services is vital and our work is urgently needed in each county. New Mexico State Senator Bill Soules, PhD, wrote in his Op-ed in the Las Cruces Sun News, “100% New Mexico: A model for COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment”:
“…an effective response to the pandemic goes beyond the medical sector. The countywide response required ten accessible services, allowing families to keep stabilized, supported, fed and housed, in order to comply with the state’s public health guidelines and to endure quarantining, isolating, social distancing and mask-wearing.”
We can happily report that many localities across the nation and globe have successfully prevented hunger by ensuring access to food security programs.
Where on earth?
Who made hunger history?
Food@100% is looking at tested food insecurity solutions, focused on innovations, projects, policies and programs implemented in large and small cities around the world.
It’s been said that hunger is not a problem with food, it’s a problem with our local governments’ commitment to addressing food insecurity. This means, ultimately, our solutions will go beyond volunteers and short term projects. Our elected leaders must vote for solutions that permanently end hunger, because it’s what caring folks in a democracy do for their neighbors.
If you have come this far, you know that ending hunger starts with knowing the magnitude of the problem; where precisely hunger is experienced in your county, and why youth and adults can’t access services to address the problem.
We present to you and your local business people and government leaders a challenge: make hunger a thing of the past, so every child, student and family thrives.
As you will see below, we have offered only a sliver of the innovations out there that have been shown to reduce hunger and food insecurities. Some of the models have been with us for many decades — tried and true and evaluated strategies. Some are ideas working successfully a few states over, while others are being implemented on the other side of the planet. Some are quite new, thanks to technology, and merit experimentation and their own evaluation. We do not lack for solutions, just the political will.
Three Important Frameworks
As we say in all ten sector chapters of 100% Community, we want to reference the data-driven framework called Continuous Quality Improvement and its four phases: assessment, planning, action and evaluation (100% Community, Chapter 29). This four-step process will guide your development of innovations in the arena of food support. And as a gentle reminder, you will want to use Collective Impact (100% Community, Chapter 31) to organize your project and Adaptive Leadership (100% Community, Chapter 30) to determine if the particular challenge you seek to solve is a technical challenge with established protocols for moving forward, or an adaptive challenge, where you are entering new uncharted territory without a clear path.
Designing a Countywide System
The past: How did we get to this point of needing a family-friendly food support system? Who exactly needs it anyway? What problems is the system supposed to solve? Why don’t people just buy food for themselves without outside help?
The present (action agenda): Within this subject, we’ve identified ten strategies — called innovation areas — that can be used to tackle the food support access problem. Within those, we suggest about twenty 100% Community projects that you (yes, you) can take on, thus propelling your community towards family-friendly food support in its many forms.
The future (goals): With enough work on these innovations/projects, we’ll get to the point where Innovation #10 — the creation of a City/County Department of Family-Friendly Food Support — becomes a reality. With a state-of-the-art system of support in place, 100% of our county’s families could report excellent support and service.
Since we are currently in the present creating the future, your commitment to innovation is most eagerly sought and needed.
Partnerships and teamwork
At the heart of innovation are change agents implementing data-driven projects shown to fix barriers to services.
10 INNOVATIONS TO EXPLORE
CHANGE AGENTS NEEDED NOW
The following innovations represent strategies that have the capacity to increase access to food support programs to ensure our children are safe and successful.
As you will see as you explore Innovations #1–#10, a countywide system of food security engages all stakeholders within the county’s borders that include data specialists, the private sector, technology experts, public awareness specialists, educators, food security program leaders, city mayors, council members and county commissioners. Your work will be groundbreaking as it unites leaders in all sectors to achieve one goal: Food Security for 100%.