Anti-Hunger Leaders and Activists Examine the New Challenges of Food Sourcing
Philabundance’s Hunger Symposium will explore recent trends, such as the drought, and how they are affecting America’s food pricing and the availability of donated food to hunger relief organizations
Philadelphia, PA – August 15, 2012- Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, is holding its second annual Hunger Symposium on Thursday, September 13 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Symposium will explore recent challenges that hunger relief organizations face trying to acquire enough food as they struggle to keep up with an increasing number of people in need. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of the issues at stake, what is being done to address them, and what they can do to make a difference.
Food banks were built on the assumption that there would always be a surplus of donated food available for people in need. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and hunger relief organizations are dealing with a paradigm shift, as the number of people needing food assistance increases, food donations drop and food prices rise.
New and creative methods to acquire enough food are already being explored to help feed people in need. Food acquisition teams are working more closely with a number of new sources, such as local farmers, because they are finding it is easier to get fresh produce directly from the grower. Long term solutions like these must be addressed and implemented in order for food banks to provide enough food to meet the need.
“As a result of the changes facing Philabundance and other food banks, we are working closely with community partners to explore new and creative ways to source more food for people in need,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “The Hunger Symposium is a forum where academics, professionals in the field and individuals can come together and discuss issues that are afflicting the hunger relief community and come up with the new and creative solutions to help acquire much needed food.”
Many factors are contributing to a lack of surplus food that food banks rely on. Changing global economic and weather patterns have impacted food supply. The USDA is predicting a 4% increase in food prices in 2013, due to failing corn and soy bean crops affected by the drought. Tighter manufacturing and retail practices have further hampered food availability. Rising food prices compounded with potential SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill will have devastating effects on not only people living below the poverty line, but the people trying to stay afloat with the help of government assistance. Additionally, more expensive fuel has led to an increase in transportation costs to get donated food to food bank warehouses.
Hunger experts and advocates from around the country will gather at Philabundance’s Hunger Symposium to discuss the nature of the challenges in finding new sources of donated food and how to meet these challenges. John W. Fisk, PhD., Director of the Wallace Institute at Winrock International, and an expert in sustainable and equitable food systems, will deliver a keynote that focuses on sustainable and just food systems. Caryn Long, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council of Feeding America Food Banks, will give a special address on how the 2012 Farm Bill will impact the Hunger Relief system.
The half day Symposium also includes breakfast, lunch, and two panel discussions exploring the food sourcing challenge. Mayor Michael A. Nutter will kick off the Symposium by welcoming attendees and presenting Philabundance with a proclamation declaring September as Hunger Action Month in Philadelphia.
The morning panel, ‘The Food Sourcing Challenge’, will go in-depth to explore the issues of food sourcing. Panelists include:
- Mark Alan Hughes, Philadelphia’s first Director of Sustainability, member of the Food Charter and Food Policy Council, and PennDesign faculty member
- Alison Hastings, Manager of the Office of Strategic Partnerships, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
- Carolyn Dimitri, Associate Professor of Food Studies, NYU Steinhardt.
- John Kasper, North America Crop Marketing Manager, FMC Corporation
The afternoon panel, ‘Food Sourcing Strategies and Solutions’, will feature experts sharing strategies for sourcing food, and innovative solutions for keeping food on tables, from alternative food production to innovative business solutions. Panelists include:
- Greg Boulos, Partner, Blackberry Meadows, and Principal, Hollymead Capital
- Diane Letson, Director, Product Sourcing and Retail Partnerships, Feeding America
- Gabriella Mora, Project Manager, The Food Trust
- Haile Johnston, Founder, Common Market
Hunger relief organizations continue to struggle to find surplus food which is a major issue in our communities: according to data from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, 14.7% of people living in the Delaware Valley are food insecure, and those neighbors are directly affected when finding surplus food becomes more difficult.
FMC Corporation is the premier Hunger Hero sponsor of the Hunger Symposium. FMC recognizes the need to ensure food supply and creates innovations to offer farmers a broad menu of targeted, efficient, and safe solutions for sustaining the food chain. FMC also supports Philabundance through more than 700 employee volunteer hours and funding of the Fresh For All site in South Philadelphia. In 2011, that site provided five pounds of produce a week to 250 households. All told, the site provided 200,000 pounds of fresh produce throughout the year. For the second year, FMC is underwriting the costs of the program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need in the South Philadelphia community.
Bank of America is sponsoring the VIP Cocktail Reception for sponsors the night before the Symposium. During the reception, Philabundance will be announcing and honoring the Corporate Beet Down Champion and the Harvester of Hope award winners.
For more information on the Hunger Symposium and to purchase ticket, please visit www.philabundance.org/hungersymposium.
Philabundance reduces hunger and food insecurity in the Delaware Valley by providing food access to people in need in partnership with organizations and individuals. Philabundance provides a full plate of services through direct service programs and a network of close to 500 member agencies in 9 counties. Philabundance serves approximately 65,000 people per week at a cost of 50 cents per meal. There are more than 900,000 people in the Delaware Valley who are at risk for chronic hunger and malnutrition. In 2011, Philabundance distributed 21 million pounds of food. For more information about Philabundance, visit www.philabundance.org or call 215-339-0900. Visit us on Facebook, Facebook.com/Philabundance and follow us on Twitter, Twitter.com/Philabundance. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, please call Philabundance’s Food Help Line, 800-319-Food (3663).