UW-Milwaukee’s Institute of World Affairs and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel held the second in a series of foreign policy forums at the Union’s Fireside Lounge on Feb. 10, exploring global food insecurity through a local lens.
“It’s as much an issue down the road as it is across the sea,” said Douglas Savage, who coordinated and moderated the forum.
Anna Applefield, research associate with the Global Food Security Project and Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Young Kim, executive director of Milwaukee’s Fondy Food Center, explained the drivers and challenges of food security at the global and local level.
Applefield focused on food security trends and the potential problems with accessibility, availability, stability and use.
“Demand for food will only continue to grow as the projected population increases to over nine billion people by 2050,” Applefield said. “Today, just over half of the global population lives in urban areas.”
In Milwaukee, there is a different kind of accessibility problem, Kim explained. Although there are resources that provide food assistance, healthy foods like vegetables and fruits are scarce at food pantries.
“There is hunger in Milwaukee, and a lot of really empty calories that fill you up really quickly,” Kim said.
Unreliable transportation and economic factors often lead people to resort to convenience store’s less-than-nutritious offerings, Kim also noted.
“Many people will get food that doesn’t meet basic quality standards [because they] can’t afford the fresher foods,” Applefield added.
Community members in attendance asked questions. A few audience members noted their work coordinating food service at local shelters, and the need for healthier options.
The forum also touched on the topic of community gardens and urban farming organizations like Growing Power, which builds sustainable food systems and works to create food-secure communities.Fondy Food Center is another resource that provides access to healthy food through its farmers markets and nutrition programs.
Both Applefield and Kim noted that the challenges in food security are tied to political and economic factors that need to be addressed.
The next forum on foreign policy takes place on Tues. February 17 at the Union’s Fireside Lounge. It’s titled “Young, Frustrated and Mad: Global Youth Unemployment and Unrest,” and it’s free and open to the public.
Recordings of the forums are available online.