Building Community Food Security

MHC's guest column from the Herald Times October 7, 2014
As an emergency food provider, it is easy to get wrapped up in the business of just getting food out the door, and to avoid looking at the larger systems that lead to poverty and food insecurity.  After many years of working at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, I was thrilled to work with the Bloomington Food Policy Council and the Local Growers Guild to organize the recent panel discussion, Food Chain: A Discussion of Policies Affecting the Monroe County Food System.  Here at the Hub, we have always done more than distribute food, and helping to organize the Food Chain panel is one way we are advocating for a stronger local food system.
As Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard aims to increase access to healthy food for all people, it is well within our mission to work toward a stronger local food system.  The stream of food assistance in the United States comes from four general sources: food stamps, USDA commodity food, food donations (food drives or produce donations), and corporate donations diverted from the waste systems.  Some of these streams are already inconsistent, and when any dry up or are reduced, it takes more than an increase in food drives to support the food insecure.  New sources must be found, and as a community we increase the chance of meeting that need by developing a strong, sustainable local food system.
When I first got into the work of emergency food provision at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, I did so because I believe that issues of social justice and the environment are interrelated.  I saw in MHC’s vision and values not only a focus on food distribution, but a focus on upholding the dignity and respect of all involved, and on caring for the earth.  When we compost food and garden waste we grow healthy soil.  That healthy soil grows nutrient dense food, and nourishes our community. Healthy soil and shared knowledge around food production and preparation offer our most basic community food security.