Food for thought

In the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, almost nine out of ten households had access — at all times — to enough food for an “active, healthy life for all household members.” That was in 2022. But the trend was headed the wrong way when comparing food security in America in 2021.   That year, some 10.2 percent of households were food “insecure.” In 2022, the percentage of households that were uncertain of having or were unable to get enough food to meet the needs of the entire family rose to 12.8 percent, equally 17 million households.

Besides food, household expenses add up fast: housing, child care, transportation, health care, taxes and all the rest that can’t be avoided, including a smartphone plan. Studies show that overall household costs increased in Connecticut between 2019 and 2021. 

The pages of our newspapers have established that food insecurity is a persistent issue that was here before the pandemic and still is a problem. Our reporters have written stories that feature lists of food pantries in our communities in the Northwest Corner and across eastern Dutchess County. We also have written about the need for food support and described how volunteers in the network have made such a big difference. 

Last Sunday, Sharon’s Hotchkiss Library Guild conducted a community discussion on food security at Troutbeck. The focus was on the Tri Corner region and its pressing need to build an equitable food system. Linda  Quella, Tri Corner Food Equity, Education and Distribution, moderated. Experts included Jordan Schmidt, food program director at the North East Community Center in Millerton; Sarah Chase of Chaseholm Farm in Pine Plains; Renee Giroux, manager of the Northwest Connecticut Food Hub based in Torrington; Sarah Salem of the Hudson Valley Food Systems Coalition, which represents seven New York counties and Maggie Cheney of Rock Steady Farm in Millerton.

We list all their names here out of respect for what they are doing to make the world better. 

Their geographic range demonstrates that food insecurity spans our wide community. We applaud the Hotchkiss Library and its Guild for seizing on this topic. A report on Sunday’s discussion can be read here

We already know that our regional pantries feed hundreds of families that include thousands of people. It is unconscionable to think that with our dedicated volunteers, our rich resources and the earnest intent of community leaders like those assembled for Sunday’s panel that we can’t solve this problem. 

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