Food management is a major problem in America. While 40 percent of the country’s food is thrown out, 15 percent of Americans receive food stamps, while even more are food insecure. Here in Philadelphia, the hunger problem is among the worst in the country. Food insecurity is not just a problem for those under the poverty line, however. Members of America’s lower middle class have increasingly needed food assistance, as stagnant wages and unemployment puts pressure on income.
Organizations like Philabundance and Greensgrow, which work on various aspects of the hunger problem, have become more vital due to the recession. Public-private partnerships have sprung up to help.
IGEL Corporate Advisory Board member Bank of America supports Philabundance, which is the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief organization. In 2011, 1000 BofA employees volunteered their time to pack food in the Philabundance warehouse. BofA also named Philabundance a 2011 Neighborhood Builder, an award which provides funds and mentorship to organizations that are strengthening local economies.
Another IGEL Corporate Advisory Board member, FMC, sponsored Philabundance’s recent symposium on the challenges of food sourcing, for which IGEL fellow Mark Alan Hughes was a speaker. The event brought together regional leaders to discuss how to creatively address increasing hunger with declining food donations. Solutions included working directly with farmers and refining food systems.
This support of hunger organizations is especially needed in light of climate change’s effect on the global food supply. This year, drought has wreaked havoc with corn and soybean crops, and a price increase for these staples is expected to ripple throughout the food chain. Increasing demands on water supplies due to higher energy needs, climate change and development will further affect food prices.
This year, the annual IGEL conference and corresponding Knowledge@Wharton report will focus on the food-water-energy nexus, thanks to advice and input from our Corporate Advisory Board members. The conference will examine what opportunities there are for entrepreneurs and businesses to solve food, water and energy problems. Click here to read more about the conference, and join our email list to be kept up to date on the agenda and other information.