Perspective: COVID-19 Exposes Flawed Food Security System

Apr 13, 2020

“I never thought I would have to ask for food.” The young mother said as a box was placed in her car.

In the last three weeks over 500,000 Illinois residents have filed for unemployment. We have never seen such a sudden, dramatic increase in the need for food in our region. There are now growing lines at area food pantries. Numbers of those seeking help has tripled. For 70% of them this is their first visit to a food pantry.

This is occurring when food banks are receiving fewer donations from their sources.  The food banks are dependent upon the donations from large food chains. Usually food whose shelf life has nearly expired, or produce that is about to go bad. Because nervous buyers have cleared out so many store shelves there is less leftover to donate. When you live at the bottom of the food chain and depend on leftovers, it is extra frightening when there is little left behind.

We need to use this crisis to question our present food system built on dependence. We need to ask how sustainable it is when 20% of our food comes from outside the U.S. Or when four major chains control 50% of our food sales.

Real food security is achieved when each of us can count on our neighbors or ourselves.

I’m Dan Kenney and this is my perspective.