In November of last year, a report was released by Hunger Free America that found that 18.3 percent of Philadelphia’s residents lived in houses deemed “food insecure” from 2015 to 2017. This percentage had increased significantly from the 2012 to 2014 rate of 11.1 percent, almost doubling in the three years since. Food insecurity is the term ascribed to people who are unable to afford a full supply of food. That is to say, almost 20 percent of the people in the city in which we live and love are struggling or failing to be able to put food on the table for themselves and their families.
There are a variety of reasons why food insecurity exists, but it’s hard to find an excuse for why anyone should be going without food when the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone in it. What often occurs is that food is wasted by consumers on a small scale, but by producers on an even larger scale. Produce that is deemed “ugly” or “unmarketable” is often sorted and trashed by those responsible for growing and selling. In a market driven by supply and demand, discounting this food means that you’re going to bite into your own profits in either the short-term or the long-term.
It’s hard to come to terms with these two conflicting truths. Do we protect the starving people in our city or the multi-billion dollar corporations who could easily feed them but choose not to? It’s a tricky question.
Oh wait, no it’s not. The people that have built the city and community that we live and learn in are suffering, and we are letting capitalism step all over their ability to not only live comfortably, but survive. Starving may seem like an alien concept to many of you reading this paper, but there are people not blocks from campus who are enduring it as you read.
Companies like Imperfect Produce and the work that they are doing are a great first step towards solving these issues, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all. We need to take steps as community members and consumers to ensure that people, at the very least, have the ability to feed their families. We owe it to ourselves. This is the “City of Brotherly Love,” afterall.