As pandemic wreaks havoc, Marin organizations band together for good food for all – Marin Independent Journal

Good food is a human right. Hunger and lack of access to healthy food are realities for low-income people in Marin, despite the county’s general wealth.

Over the past year, food insecurity among too many individuals and families has intensified due to COVID-19 and its impacts. The statistics are quite astonishing, with one in five families (one in three seniors) struggling to put food on the table.

To make matters worse, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Access Research Atlas tells us that many Marin families live in food deserts – areas where low-income census tracts make up a significant portion. of residents – are over a mile from a supermarket due to systemic issues. inequality. Inequitable access to food in Marin is more prevalent among communities of color in Marin City, the Canal, Novato and coastal communities in West Marin due to long-standing systemic racism.

These families find themselves with few options other than the highly processed foods available at convenience stores. They don’t have access to fresh produce – foods widely available in resource-rich neighborhoods.

Our invitation this holiday season is to put food at the heart of our actions and conversations about how we are recovering from the pandemic together. Food is an important part of our county’s safety net. It unites us as people in a way that contributes to an equitable response to current and persistent challenges. It is a powerful symbol of our connection to the land, to the community and to each other across generations.

We can donate to a food drive, invest in a community garden, and teach young people where their food comes from by developing outdoor learning classrooms. We can come together around the holiday table to look at these and other important aspects of food security and food justice.

For example, Community Action Marin’s early childhood educators teach children about healthy eating and support agency learning gardens and production farms filled with nutritious and healthy foods. The agency’s central kitchen provides space and training for those seeking a career in the food industry or food entrepreneurship. The agency does this and more in the service of its mission to alleviate the causes and consequences of poverty in Le Marin.

The mission of the San Francisco Marin Food Bank is to end hunger, and the key to achieving that mission is to partner with valued community organizations like Community Action Marin and many others across the county. Together, we are ensuring that over 6,000 families in Marin have access to a weekly grocery bag of nutritious food.

Last year, the Food Bank distributed food for more than 10 million meals in Marin, nearly 60% of which were fresh. In a recent participant survey of thousands of program participants, 50% said they turned to us for the first time during the pandemic.

There is no vaccine against hunger. A righteous recovery from a pandemic will include the creation of a community free from hunger. Our imperative is not only to fill the urgent gaps in healthy eating today, but also to strengthen the safety net, increase participant access to the benefits of CalFresh food stamps and continue to do so. advancing effective policy – like the recent historic victory that every child in California now receives free school meals.

Our commitment to making real progress to end hunger is why the Food Bank and Community Action Marin work in partnership with others across the county, including the County Healthy Eating and Active Living initiative. , the Marin Agricultural Institute, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and Marin Food Policy Council, among others. We want to help people learn what is being done to meet the food needs of our community. Our call now is to come together and take #FiveMinutesforFood over the holidays.

The #FiveMinutesforFood social media campaign asks each of us to watch a short five-minute video, download the discussion guide (available in English and Spanish), and reflect on the meaning and importance of healthy, nutritious and good food for all these centers. equity and justice.

Together, we are fighting for a healthy, local food economy for all in Marin by growing, distributing food and making food more accessible to people who need it. Together, we are finding ways forward that will help Marin become a place where no one will ever go hungry. We hope you can join us, because ensuring nutritious food for all requires community.

Learn more at camarin.org/food-justice and sfmfoodbank.org.

Chandra Alexandre is CEO of Community Action Marin. Tanis Crosby is CEO of SF-Marin Food Bank.

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