Hunger and food insecurity affect more than 38 million Americans. Black and Hispanic families and other minority groups, including LGBTQ people, consistently and disproportionately experience food insecurity compared to their white and straight counterparts in particular. This attention to the issue has therefore been a long time coming.
However, the strategy that the White House is pursuing — hosting virtual listening sessions — is problematic in many ways. As well as their good intentions, it may not provide the much-needed input needed to accelerate progress and make important policy changes to end hunger.
Unfortunately, the White House hearings are likely to paint only a small picture of the problem, as it will be an effort that the most privileged will be able to participate in. To participate in these hearings, you must have access to the Internet and be aware of the listening sessions.
This probably means that you are part of networks or have access to channels where the announcement has been distributed. Most importantly, taking part in the listening sessions is something that one should have the privilege of having extra time to attend.
Sadly, Americans Hardest Hit by Food Insecurity – The People’s President Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris must hear – may not have any or all of these privileges. For example, if we look at Internet access, according to the Pew Research Center Report,
African Americans still follow whites in general use of the Internet; 34% of black adults do not have broadband access at home and 30.6% of black households do not have high-speed internet at home. In addition, racial minorities and those with lower educational attainment and lower incomes at home have less access to broadband.
In addition, according to Pew Research, 10 percent of Americans who don’t use the Internet live in rural areas — areas where food insecurity is prevalent. The main reason why many black families living in urban and rural communities do not have the privilege of Internet access is cost.
Unsurprisingly, African Americans and other minority groups most affected by hunger, due to persistent racial inequalities, may not have the privilege of time, as many have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.
Worse, for many African Americans, despite working more each year, they have far less wealth and experience higher unemployment rates and no tangible economic progress.
So, rather than just holding virtual listening sessions to craft a national plan for tackling hunger and food insecurity, the White House should consider adding other creative platforms to be more inclusive.
The most obvious way to implement is to take the listening tours offline to the people in the communities and spaces where people live where food security had an impact.
The easiest way to do this is to hold meetings and gatherings where people are already attending. For example, the White House could host in-person roundtables at food banks across America, where nearly 60 million food-insecure Americans visit regularly, according to Feeding America.
To do this, the White House would need to partner with food banks and other organizations that provide food to people affected by food security. Another prime location for listening sessions are churches. Churches have an existing relationship with their participating members and can be used as a platform to ask for stories and ideas.
The Center for Disease Control and other groups working to increase the number of people who successfully vaccinated took the same tactic and saw an increase in the number of people who agreed to be vaccinated. For example, working with black and African American churches in areas with low vaccination rates resulted in an increase in the number of people being vaccinated.
In addition, instead of holding a few virtual listening sessions with fixed dates and times, the White House could partner and coordinate with community hunger and food insecurity organizations that have existing relationships with the people so that they hold multiple listening sessions.
These groups can create ways to share additional feedback and ideas with the White House, while also allowing the White House to use these community-trusted organizations to share additional updates on future White House efforts to end hunger. It’s a win win.
Solving complex problems such as hunger and food insecurity must undoubtedly be a concerted effort, listening and taking into account everyone’s input, voice and ideas.
To do that, the White House must consider other creative ways to gather ideas and stories from those affected by hunger and food insecurity, and put the ideas they offer at the center of the national plan outlining how America will end. make hungry. It’s the right thing to do.
dr. Esther Ngumba is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a Senior Food Security Fellow at the Aspen Institute, New Voices.
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service