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Earth Policy Institute;
World agriculture today faces pressure from many sources. On the production side, the amount of unused arable land worldwide has dwindled. Overworked soils are becoming eroded and degraded, and overpumped aquifers are being depleted. Meanwhile, as the global population grows and increasing biofuel production converts grain into fuel for cars, demand for food continues to climb. In Chapters 2 and 9 of Plan B 4.0, Lester Brown discusses these challenges.
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger globally and by region and country. Calculated each year by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the GHI highlights successes and failures in hunger reduction and provides insights into the drivers of hunger. By raising awareness and understanding of regional and country differences in hunger, the GHI will, it is hoped, trigger actions to reduce hunger.
The 2012 GHI report focuses particularly on the issue of how to ensure sustainable food security under conditions of water, land, and energy stress. Demographic changes, rising incomes and associated consumption patterns, and climate change, alongside persistent poverty and inadequate policies and institutions, are all placing serious pressure on natural resources. In this report, IFPRI describes the evidence on land, water, and energy scarcity in developing countries and offers two visions of a future global food system -- an unsustainable scenario in which current trends in resource use continue, and a sustainable scenario in which access to food, modern energy, and clean water improves significantly and ecosystem degradation is halted or reversed. Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe provide on-theground perspectives on the issues of land tenure and title as well as the impacts of scarce land, water, and energy on poor people in Sierra Leone and Tanzania and describe the work of their organizations in helping to alleviate these impacts.
Community Food Security Coalition;
Learn about Community Food Assessments, a creative way to highlight food-related resources and needs, promote collaboration and community participation, and create lasting change. This Guide includes case studies of nine Community Food Assessments; tips for planning and organizing an assessment; guidance on research methods and strategies for promoting community participation; and ideas for translating an assessment into action for change.
Community Food Security Coalition;
The product of a year's work for six researchers, Seeds of Change is perhaps the most thorough documentation of an urban community's food system. Sections on hunger, nutrition, food industry, supermarket industry, communmity case study, farmers' markets, urban agriculture, joint ventures, and food policy councils.
New research from Children's HealthWatch shows that increases in income that trigger loss of public assistance benefits can leave young children without enough food to eat. Families hat have been cut off from SNAP or TANF when their income exceeds eligibility limits are more likely to experience levels of food insecurity that require reducing the size or frequency of children's meals compared to those currently receiving benefits. Previous research has demonstrated that both SNAP and TANF reduce the likelihood of food insecurity.
Income eligibility guidelines should be re-examined to ensure that a modest increase in income does not disqulaify a family from the benefits they need to keep their children healthy and well-fed. Families that successfully increase their earnings should not find themselves worse off due to a resulting loss of benefits.
New research by Children's HealthWatch finds that the cumulative effects of multiple hardships on young children, including a lack of nutritious food, unstable housing and inadequate home heating and cooling, decrease the chances of normal growth and development in very young children. The research shows that the greater the level of hardship experienced, the less likely a child was to be classified as 'well' on a composite indicator of well-being and the more likely their parents were to be concerned about their development.
These current findings raise serious concerns about the future well-being of America's youngest children. Deprivations in early life can change the lifetime trajectory of children's health and development. Enhanced coordination across safety net programs, strong child nutrition programs, and an adequate supply of affordable housing could help offset the impacts of hardship on our nation's youngest and most vulnerable children.
New research by Children's HealthWatch demonstrates that young children who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are more likely to be in excellent or good health and have a reduced risk of developmental delay. Investing in WIC supports the nutritional and health needs of young children during a critical window of brain and body growth.
Progam improvements that decrease access barriers, provide the full amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Institute of Medicine, and accommodate working parents' schedules will help young children reach their full potential.
Children's HealthWatch finds that the prevalence of food insecurity in a five-city sample of low-income families with young children increased from 18.5 percent to 22.6 percent between 2007 and 2008. This is the largest year-to-year change seen in the dataset since 2001. The increase is an indication of the economic hardships facing low-income families with young children. This data suggests that we are likely to see significant increases in food insecurity when the U.S. Department of Agriculture issues its own statistics for 2008 in late fall.
Earth Policy Institute;
A fast-unfolding food shortage is engulfing the entire world, driving food prices to record highs. Over the past half-century grain prices have spiked from time to time because of weather-related events, such as the 1972 Soviet crop failure that led to a doubling of world wheat, rice, and corn prices. The situation today is entirely different, however. The current doubling of grain prices is trend-driven, the cumulative effect of some trends that are accelerating growth in demand and other trends that are slowing the growth in supply.
Center for Economic and Policy Research;
In "The Role of Prices in Measuring the Poor's Living Standards," Christian Broda, Ephriam Leibtag, and David E. Weinstein (2009) use proprietary data -- the 2005 Nielsen Homescan dataset -- to analyze differences by income level in the prices paid for food. They find that Nielsen households with incomes above $60,000 pay somewhat more for the same food items than most households with lower incomes, with Nielsen households with incomes above $100,000 paying the most. Based on this finding and additional regression analyses, they conclude broadly that the "poor pay less -- not more -- for the goods they purchase" and that not accounting for this suggests that income inequality may be between 2.5 to 5 percent less than shown by national statistics.
John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development;
This working paper, by William M. Rodgers III, Hanley S. Chiang, and Bruce W. Klein, estimates the extent to which increases in the U.S. federal minimum wage in October 1996 and September 1997 improved the ability of households to be food secure -- that is, to purchase for their members an adequate supply of nutritional and safe foods. First, the authors show that the two increases significantly altered the hourly wage distribution of householders (principal person in a household). The shifts were greatest among household heads that are minority, single parents, and household heads with no more than a high school diploma. Even after controlling for the link between the 1990s economic expansion and food security, the October 1996 and September 1997 increases in the federal minimum wage raised food security and reduced hunger, particularly in low-income households where householders had completed no more than a high school degree or were a single parent.