Friday, November 15, 2013

Want to address food insecurity in the Monadnock Region? Come to A Place at the Table on Nov 17.

Letter to the editor in Sunday's Keene Sentinel:

How can New Hampshire — the state ranked by Wall Street Journal as the wealthiest (based on 2010 Census data indicating the lowest poverty rate and highest median income) be so gripped by the problem of food insecurity?People who don’t know day-to-day whether they will be able to put food on the table number in the thousands in our state — an estimated 12 percent of our population, according to the Kids Count Data Center. That means that more than one in 10 Granite Staters, including families with children, struggle every day for basic necessities such as food. Food insecurity is an accelerating crisis nationwide, even in “wealthy” states like New Hampshire.

The issue of food insecurity can be complex, but essentially refers to members of a household who do not have adequate access to food for economic reasons. Someone who, despite working at a full-time job or combination of part-time jobs, must choose between paying the rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation and other necessities, or feeding the family, is food insecure.Likewise, a person who was recently laid off from work, a single parent or caregiver, a person struggling to get back on his or her feet is likely to be food insecure. The face of local food insecurity might look very different from the image of famine in villages across Africa, but it is nonetheless real — and, it doesn’t need to happen.

Organizations in our region are working tirelessly to stem hunger and protect our families’ and neighbors’ access to healthy, nourishing food. However, emergency programs such as food stamps (SNAP), soup kitchens and food banks can only give short-term help, they are not a sustainable solution.Ending hunger and ensuring food security for future generations requires a far-reaching, systemic approach that addresses the very processes by which food is raised, processed, sold, delivered and eaten in our country.

The Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition and eight of its partner organizations will host a special screening of “A Place at the Table,” a nationally acclaimed film focused on the related problems of hunger, obesity, economics and food security in America, on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. at The Colonial Theatre on Main Street in Keene.Featuring actor Jeff Bridges and “Top Chef” star Tom Colicchio, this documentary takes a hard look at the causes and impacts of hunger in communities, and how U.S. food policies have shaped the picture of American hunger today.With the film as a backdrop, the coalition will present a picture of hunger in our own region, and provide opportunities to interact with some of the people working to end it.

A post-film panel, moderated by state Sen. Molly Kelly, will include Donna Reynolds (Conval food service), Kin Schilling (The Cornucopia Project), Phoebe Bray (The Community Kitchen in Keene) and Olivia Zink (New Hampshire Citizen’s Alliance). The panel will highlight how these organizations are working to make healthy food affordable and accessible for all. The discussion will include time for audience questions, with refreshments and small group discussion following afterward.

The screening is free and open to the public. A donation of fresh produce or canned goods for local food pantries is suggested as admission. For more information, email