ShareThis Page
Jamilka Borges: Farm Bill important to feed the hungry |
Letters to the Editor

Jamilka Borges: Farm Bill important to feed the hungry

Letter To The Editor
| Wednesday, December 19, 2018 7:03 p.m
Chef Jamilka Borges

It’s the holiday season, and families are running errands, revising prep lists and researching the best brining method for their turkeys. As a chef, I’m carefully planning what I’ll be cooking, and returning calls from friends and family who want to learn how to roast Brussels sprouts. We are busy with the joy of friendship, family and food. This is the reality for families. Most of us, anyway.

There are currently 1,599,520 individuals who struggle with hunger in Pennsylvania.

That’s one in eight people, and one in six of those are children. Think about that for a minute. We struggle with hunger in our communities, yet 62.5 million tons of food will go to waste. Just in Pennsylvania, it is estimated that $821,658,000 more is needed per year in order to meet food needs. Meanwhile, according to the ReFed Report on Food Waste, $218 billion a year is spent “growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten.”

While these numbers can be heart-wrenching, I like to think that there’s plenty of hope. Here in Pennsylvania, we have seen an incredible amount of action from nonprofit organizations to help alleviate food waste, hunger and food insecurity. For example, local nonprofit 412 Food Rescue addresses the disconnect among food waste, hunger and environmental sustainability. Its app shows users possible rescues that anyone with a car or a bike can claim and keep from the landfills. The rescued food is then distributed to public housing communities, shelters and other food-insecure communities.

This is a win-win situation, engaging citizens who want to help their community and forcing them to go out of their comfort zone and see the reality in their city. 412 Food Rescue just expanded its presence to Philadelphia and is looking to keep expanding partnerships and sponsors. I’m proud to be on its advisory board as an ally, supporter and advocate.

Locally, Just Harvest partnered with Philadelphia-based The Food Trust to offer a program called Food Bucks that incentivizes the purchase of fresh produce by offering SNAP users $2 vouchers for every $5 spent at the market , and it’s running at 22 markets across America . This can be huge, especially when kids and adults are introduced to methods to prepare fresh produce. There are many ways we can achieve that, from having demos with chefs at farmers markets to after-school programming in schools.

SNAP and other food and agriculture programs that benefit families in our community are supported by the Farm Bill. Fortunately, after months of negotiations and tough compromises, Congress recently passed a bipartisan Farm Bill, which preserved overall funding for conservation programs and funding, benefits, and eligibility for anti-hunger programs like SNAP. The bill provides permanent funding for healthy food incentives and local, organic and beginning farmer programs for the first time. Thankfully, it also rejected anti-environmental riders and harmful barriers to anti-hunger programs proposed in earlier versions.

However, no farm bill is perfect. Far more funding is needed to reward good stewardship on working lands and to provide a strong safety net for families struggling against hunger. The bill also expanded subsidy loopholes which will further tilt the playing field against the family farmers that our farm safety net should serve.

As we celebrate all that we have to be grateful for this holiday season, let us keep in mind the importance of protecting a food system that supports healthier, more delicious and more sustainable lives for our families, our neighbors and the farmers who feed us.

Jamilka Borges is a food waste recovery advocate and executive chef of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.