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athgarvan

Food Security

I was reading recently an article by my friend, Donal Leader, about food and hunger. Food security is an issue which touches upon a deep neuralgic nerve in the Irish psyche since the Great Potato Famine in the 1840s. It is this deep-seated fear that connects Irish people very immediately with the plight of famine victims worldwide and urges them to offer help in any way they can. 

queues for food in DublinBut the right to food is put at risk by a number of factors and agencies in today's world. Many parts of the world experience severe and recurring drought. In the West of Europe many people are discovering that food is being priced beyond their reach. This is what is happening for many in Ireland today. They are the New Poor, people who once had jobs and could afford to provide for their families, who can no longer afford many of life's basic necessities. Ireland now heads the list of Europe's jobless people and many of the recently unemployed in Ireland today are no longer able to access affordable food.

Food security is particularly endangered today by the operation of organisations whose interests are primarily oriented towards profit on an international and exploitative scale. In the 1940s, during wartime Ireland, few went without food. This was because many people lived on farms and grew their own food. Even those in towns had ready access to food from nearby farms. Today, that system of food production in a local context is no longer functioning. Food today is transported hundreds of kilometers, often across international borders, within systems managed by corporate interests, mainly the supermarket chains. A breakdown has occurred in our ability to provide affordable food locally.

 As austerity programmes bite deeper in European countries, so, too, does the issue of access to affordable food resources take on a new urgency. We can expect governments and civil society to become more active in this area. Practical initiatives such as food centres, food banks and community kitchens are in the frontline in enabling poor people to survive the current crises. Fortunately, in Ireland faith-based groups, such as Saint Vincent de Paul and the Capuchins, (see above) have been to the fore in ensuring that the poor have access to food in urban areas.

Comments

It is happening in the U.S., too, although at a slower pace (or, perhaps, we are just in more denial about it). I come from working class. That is, when I grew up, my dad always worked. We didn't have much, but we were never hungry. As an adult, I always worked as well, although I worked my way up into the technical fields, so I had more money. Then, suddenly, I could no longer find work. I lost everything for no other reason that I could not get another job once I lost the one I was in. I now live in poverty. I get food donations and often go to the food pantry. I am training for a new career that will hopefully feed me for the rest of my life, but, bottom line is, I am trying to avoid starvation. And, I am not the only one in this position. I know a LOT of people my age in the same boat. Note, we are not drunkards, drug addicts, criminals... we are just people who worked all our lives and now do not because we cannot find jobs.
How sad that in 2013 we have such a situation in Europe, US and across the world. Who would ever have thought that it would come to this? And all the result of greed, greed, greed.
I pray that your own situation improves and that you can again live with dignity.
Here in the US there have been many more food pantries opening up. Due to the recession we were experiencing and so many loss of jobs, food pantries are looking for more and more donations. Growing up in an Italian/German family, we were always very well fed. No matter how little money my dad was bringing in, he always made sure we had food on the table. Knowing there are so many children here in the US that are living in poverty, I always make donations to the local food banks in honor of my mother and father.

Edited at 2013-01-07 00:02 (UTC)
I'm sure those donations of yours are very welcome to those in need. May God bless your generosity.
I know that the Quaker attitide during the hungry forties was different to that of other protestant sects which is why we retain respect in Ireland.

Something needs to be done about an out of touch political class who clearly don't care and that leads to some uncomfortable thoughts...........