These are the struggles thousands of people who live with food insecurity face every single day. Along every step of the food cycle there are systematic injustices that disproportionately afflict specific demographic groups far more than other groups. Black and Latino populations in low-income communities often face the worst of these injustices. As you can see in Clint Smith’s performance of “Place Matters”, many social and economic issues lead to food insecurity.

Food Deserts | “Place Matters”

The Food Lifecycle

Food Justice Issues

Worker Safety

Working conditions on farms can be hazardous to worker health because of extreme temperatures, exposure to chemicals, lack of shade, and extreme physical exertion. Organizations combat this with mandatory breaks and strict worker hours.

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Food Insecurity

Certain groups of people in America lack access to fresh and nutritious food because they live too far from the closest grocery store and have limited transportation or face budget constraints.

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Increased Diseases

Diseases have been steadily on the rise and many are attributed to a poor diet. Some of these diseases include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, malnutrition, osteoporosis and some cancers.

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Fair Pay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay of agriculture workers is $18,910 and the lowest 10% earned less than $17,000 per year. For a family of 3, the poverty threshold is $20,090.

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Culturally and Religiously Appropriate

Many religious bodies and cultural communities observe dietary restrictions as part of their belief system, such as kosher or vegetarian diets.

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Nearly 2 out of every 3 adults in America are considered overweight. Child obesity has also been on the rise, with 1 out of every 3 kids being classified as obese.

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Overly Processed Food

Processed foods lose a lot of the vitamins and healthy enzymes once contained as raw food. Overly processed food often contains little to no nutritional value, yet are readily available for consumption.

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Dietary Restrictions

Food allergies are on the rise in our society. Scientists estimate that roughly 15 million people live with food allergies and that nearly 1 in 18 children have a deadly allergy.

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Landfill Location

Sometimes, without the consent of the community, landfills are built near low-income areas, which increases the risk of disease within the community and dramatically lowers the standard of living.

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These issues include safety hazards during production and processing, fresh food not being distributed to low-income neighborhoods, higher rates of obesity and other health issues post consumption, and building landfill locations close to low-income communities.

Some organizations made it their mission to combat food deserts by bringing fresh food to communities in need through community supported agriculture (CSA) or creating community gardens. Other organizations fight for worker safety and fair wages. A recent victory for field worker’s rights occurred in the Florida tomato industry because of the support and pressure from large-scale restaurant chains.
Learn more at Fair Food Program.

We aim to increase awareness and education about these injustices and to increase community engagement to combat these issues.