Conference On Local Food Security

There would be no hunger in the world if we could stop losing 30% of our food to waste in the distributon chain
BY: BOB APPLE

Last week we had two representatives from the San Diego Food Systems Alliance in Cabo to present a discusion on the success of their initiatives to feed local hungry people. It was hosted by the International Community Foundation, as this is a pilot project that ICF has been helping coordinate

Attendees were mostly in the food system, such as restaurateurs, local producers, and NGOs involved in community gardening or providing food for the most vulnerable in the community, (hot food kitchens).

Nearly two years ago, several Baja California Sur organizations formed a working group to research the state of food shortages here and to create a local alliance of social, government and business organizations to improve the situation for low-income and at-risk families. They named this group the  Southern Baja Food Security Alliance.

The SBFSA established a network of programs to bring together existing organizations and projects working toward long term food security.

According to a comprehensive study on food security and nutrition in Mexico conducted by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, “food poverty is highest in the poorest regions, notably southern Mexico, reaching as high as 47 percent in Chiapas and averaging over 18 percent nationally. Currently, Mexico is plagued by problems of malnutrition, anemia, overweight and obesity. Though acute malnutrition has dropped significantly, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in children under five is almost 13 percent nationally.”

This study highlights the impact food insecurity has had on small children. For preschoolers, the prevalence of anemia was higher here, where the states with the highest prevalence were Baja California (36.6 percent) and Baja California Sur (31.8 percent).

The SBFSA has identified multiple strategies aimed at getting fresh and locally available food into the hands of the neediest communities. More specifically, their goals are to make use of second quality export produce through a gleaning or food rescue program that salvages the considerable percentage of locally produced food that is left to rot or disposed of because it fails to meet export standards. Secondly, the program aims to stimulate connections between local food producers and consumers through the establishment of community food rescue and distribution teams that make fresh food available to hot meals kitchens and through fresh food basket programs.

The governmental network of hot meal kitchens provides primary nutrition to thousands of families, but struggles to integrate fresh vegetables and fruits into their menu. The government is trying to build a demonstration garde at its hot meals kitchens as a source of fresh food for meal prep and take home food bags for families. They are trying to get the hungry families to volunteer to do the actual production themselves. That is still a work in progress.