When Separate Equals Hungry

A 2-part feature exploring food insecurity.

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World on a Crash Course with Famine? What We're Missing

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The world is in a world of trouble on all fronts. Recently, politics dominated our attention front and center.  We were so entrenched in the Chicago mayoral race that as the world continued to turn so many other things of major consequence were going on out of our sight.

Reports provide research analysis of investigations of the causes and outcomes of food shortages and high prices in an extract from a new Impact Series report on food security.  Believe it or not we’re all in it together and our experiences impact one another.

The war in Ukraine and an increase in extreme weather events are squeezing the current fragility of the food supply chains, a lasting effect of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The Ukrainian war continues to suppress food production, droughts in Europe and Africa in 2022, as well as floods in countries such as Pakistan, have contributed to high food prices and shortages worldwide. The torrential downpours in California, -- all this, combined with a rise in fertilizer and labor costs, have created inflationary pressures.
News reports this past week commented on the increase in restaurant dining, and airfare, hotel lodging, dwindling workforce all contributing to the rising inflation. The current food price unpredictability exposes the instability of our global food system: rising food insecurity, social unrest, political unrest, displacement and mass migration throughout Europe are all growing consequences.

Germany Warns of Global Famine

In early 2023 Germany voiced that the world is about to face an acute food crisis due to off the chart rising food prices. It warns us about an imminent famine not seen since World War II. The Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine has been deemed as its causes, according to the Development Minister Svenja Schulze Minister.

It is noted by the UN World Food Program, that “more than 300 million people” are already suffering from dire hunger and the UN has to “frequently revise” this data aloft.
Food prices around the world have grown by a third and have reached “record levels,” Schulze has warned, adding that the “bitter message is that we are facing the worst famine since World War II,” which could see “millions” die.

To Tackle Hunger, Brazil Needs To Tackle Racism First

The fight against hunger should be a top priority in Brazil — provided it's addressed as a whole. And to do that, the country needs to face its structural racism issues, an issue newly reelected President Lula da Silva vowed to tackle.
Deep roots
From the 1950 Land Law, which placed all “unclaimed” land in the hands of the state, to the present day, Black people in particular have remained without access to land, evidenced in their continued over representation in shanty towns.
Where there is food insecurity, there is also general insecurity. We know this to be true in America’s Black communities that disproportionately experience food deserts.
Understanding the modern problem of hunger involves not only looking closely at the dismantling and destruction of rights applied since 2015, but also at Brazil’s long history.
Hunger in Brazil has a color and gender affect. Interestingly, the face of a hungry person is most likely to be that of a Black woman. So there’s no surprise when a Black São Paulo or Mississippi mother is arrested for stealing $4.16 worth of food for their five children.
According collected data by the researchers from PENSSAN, hunger disproportionately affects women, Black people, inhabitants of rural area. In Brazil 53% of their counterparts’ households where the reference person is white live in food security, only 35% of households headed by a Black or mixed individual do. That means that six out of ten households whose heads identify themselves as Black or mixed live, with some degree of food insecurity, whether mild, moderate or severe. The percentages are not too different when American Black stats are compared.
In 2021, a study carried out by Integration Consulting found that 76% of those who suffered from food insecurity in Brazil were Black, and the vast majority lived in shanties. According to Feeding America, 72% of the households served by its affiliated food banks live at or below 100% of the federal poverty line and have a median annual household income of $9,175. In short, they don’t have enough money to consistently put food on the table. While
Comparing 2022 to 2020, in households headed by women, hunger increased from 11% to 19%. Black female led households with children make up 64% of this demographic.
Women are at the head of 48% of Brazilian households, according to the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous PNAD), and the overwhelming majority are single mothers.
Hunger has social spillover effects: where there is food insecurity, there is also general insecurity, and it is often women who are placed under pressure to mediate the conflicts that arise from empty plates and empty bowls. Black women especially are the intersection of sexism, racism, inequality, hunger, and violence.

Structural racism
Silvio de Almeida, professor of law and author of the book What is Structural Racism?, writes that “all racism is structural because racism is not an act, it is a process in which the conditions of society’s organization reproduce the subalternity of certain groups that are racially identified.” This dynamic has been clearly at work in Brazil’s history, and the United States remains so in its current social situation.

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