Austin City Council To Improve Food Insecurity Issues

 

In an attempt to improve areas within Austin where there is limited fresh food access, the city council met to determine how to handle this problem which is affecting 25% of the people living in Austin right now. These individuals have no idea where they will be able to get access to their next meal. This is what is referred to as a food insecurity issue, a matter that city leaders have determined to be of great priority, specifically for the newly created council in charge of these matters called the Office of Equity.

 

The Problem At Hand

The problem that the city council is facing right now was first reported by the Office of Sustainability. They had presented the idea that a quarter of the population of Austin were facing this food insecurity problem. Edwin Marty, who is in charge of the food policy program, has stated that it is one of the largest concerns that he has heard on a consistent basis from a multitude of different constituents. Specifically, these individuals do not have access to what would be considered healthy and affordable food, a problem that the council believes that they can resolve very quickly.

 

Ways Of Addressing These Disparities

District 2 council member Delia Garza stated that this council has an obligation to addressing the disparities related to food insecurity and that it is necessary to resolve these food access problems which are all over the city. Over the last several months, the city staff has taken part in 11 stakeholder meetings, and has met with over 30 organizations and city departments to increase funding and resources in this area. This would specifically address the use of community gardens which could provide a nutritious food incentive program. They would work by targeting specific ZIP Codes, administering a nutrition education campaign, and would be able to achieve a final preliminary report on the overall cost of this type of project.

 

The Main Problem With The Current Project

The main problem with this current project is the scope of the project itself. Food access has become a significant issue, mostly because of the surrounding areas. According to Shannon Jones who is the director of the Human Services Department, there is an affordability issue due to providing food for those in areas where there is a lack of infrastructure. One solution is utilizing healthy food that will be discarded by restaurants and stores, huge volumes of food that can be used to feed the hungry. Bill Fry, board chairman of Keep Austin Said, is actually able to distribute 30 tons of food every month made available by over 30 donors. By utilizing food that would be otherwise thrown away, this can help with the current budgeting problems. It’s also a great way to gain access to food that actually is healthy and safe to eat that can be given to those that are less fortunate.

 

In conclusion, the Austin City Council seems to have a good idea on how to expand their reach to help those that are hungry. By defining the parameters where hungry people are located in and around Austin, and utilizing the free healthy food made available through local businesses, it is possible to compensate for the ever increasing number of those that need to eat. Once this project goes from a proposal to an actual viable solution, it should help prevent thousands of people from going hungry. As long as they are able to coordinate with local businesses, and receive approval from the city council, there should be no problem at all dealing with food insecurity issues now and in the future.