I can’t understand how anyone can find the concept of medical care as a human right controversial. I mean, in theory, would we all agree that denial of needed medical care would be inhumane. And has it not been standard practice in almost all American medical facilities that no one in need of care is turned away?
So, if medical care is considered so essential to sustaining human life that access to it can be considered a right natural to all humans, what about food? Isn’t food as necessary to survival as surgery or therapy, and isn’t it a natural instinct to feed the hungry? And yet, most reports show that hunger, or as it is bureaucratically labeled, “food insecurity” in America is growing. Of course, food insecurity isn’t growing as fast as food inequality. Well, what kind of society provides its citizens basic rights in unequal shares. Unequal incomes is one thing – income is not a right. Unequal access to life-altering medical care, or to healthy eating seems to me something else again, A denial of basic rights, which is something government can and should prevent.
The irony here is that the same sources that fuel and benefit from the rising upper-crust of food consumption can simultaneously make more and better food choices available to people of low or modest incomes, and this virtuous circle of farm food producers and consumers can become a driving wheel for local economic growth, jobs and commerce.
Across America, communities, some small, some poor, some large and growing larger, can be defined by the foods they eat – where they get ‘em, what they do with them and who gets fed at the community table.
From 1979 to 2003, Mark Winne was the Executive Director of the Hartford Food System, a private non-profit agency that works on food and hunger issues in the Hartford, Connecticut area. During his tenure with HFS, Mark organized community self-help food projects that assisted the city’s lower income and elderly residents. Mark’s work with the Food System included the development of commercial food businesses, Connecticut’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, farmers’ markets, a 25-acre community supported agriculture farm, a food bank, food and nutrition education programs, and a neighborhood supermarket.
Mark was a member of the United States delegation to the 2000 World Conference on Food Security in Rome and is a 2001 recipient of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Plow Honor Award. From 2002 until 2004, Mark was a Food and Society Policy Fellow, a position supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Mark serves part time as a Senior Advisor to the Food Policy Networks Project at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future.
Mark currently writes, speaks, and consults extensively on community food system topics including hunger and food insecurity, local and regional agriculture, community food assessment, and food policy. Since 2013, Mark has served as a Senior Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future where he works on local and state food policy. His essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Hartford Courant, the Boston Globe, The Nation, In These Times, Sierra Magazine, Orion Magazine, Successful Farming, Yes! Magazine, and numerous organizational and professional journals. Mark blogs regularly at www.markwinne.com. He is the author of Stand Together or Starve Alone: Unity and Chaos in the U.S. Food Movement (Praeger Press 2018), Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty (Beacon Press 2008), and the forthcoming Food Rebels, Guerilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas: Fighting Back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture (Beacon Press, 2010). Mark now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.