By taking a comprehensive approach, more communities will continue working together to access hard-to-reach populations and tackle major social issues. Beyond hunger, communities will need to work together on all levels to alleviate homelessness, the opioid crisis and beyond. Cities will need to take initiative locally by collaborating with community organizations to develop programs to reach residents such as veterans and college students. We will need to prioritize health initiatives including the launch of more food pantries at community health centers to expand its reach throughout the community.
The Growing Senior Hunger Epidemic
Seniors aged 60 and older make up about 20 percent of the general population. As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, the number of seniors requiring food assistance will increase by 50% by 2025. Limited income requires selective spending, e.g. choosing between paying for rent, healthcare costs, or food. To alleviate this issue, there will need to be programs specifically targeted toward low-income seniors.
Decreasing Wasted Food
In the U.S., 40 percent of food goes uneaten and becomes the single largest component of municipal solid waste. A major focus for 2016 should be paying close attention to Commercial Food Waste and adding a Disposal Ban to take action on food waste reduction. By creating partnerships and enlisting the community, we hope to see a reduction in food waste in the coming year.
Defining Food Insecurity
Nationwide, one in every seven people are considered “food insecure,” meaning they do not receive an adequate amount or quality of food on a given day. Recently, Congress began looking into what determines food insecurity, the role of nutrition and access to healthy options via programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), Farm Bills, and food banks. Hospitals are even starting to explore opportunities to screen for food insecurity via medical intake forms, a process in which all working governments should solidify on a local level to help the initiative.
Increasing Food Safety
Already a hot topic in the news, food safety will remain top of mind throughout 2016. Following recent events at major restaurant chains, everyone from farmers to supply chain managers to storefront owners are examining the safety of the food we eat. We expect this will continue to be a topic of interest throughout the year, focusing on transparency throughout the industry. Locally, food banks and distributors should be making improvements to their supply chain by getting food safety certifications.