As we enter the seasonal height of Hamptons activity, the reopening of restaurants for outdoor dining signals a gradual return to normalcy, ending for many what has been a months-long period of increased anxiety about food sourcing.
In the spring, grocery stores presented risks of both food shortages and population densification, forcing Hamptonites to adjust their methods of food acquisition. Delivery options such as Stop & Shop’s Peapod, AmazonFresh, Baldor and D’Artagnan (though these companies’ struggles with increased consumer demand introduced anxieties of their own), as well as local farmers markets, became preferable to traditional trips to the grocery store.
Elsewhere in the world, however, the impacts of COVID-19 on food security may be far more drastic and long-lasting, as the pandemic threatens to undo more than 25 years of progress against poverty and world hunger.
Moreover, like all outbreaks in recent memory, COVID-19 poses a direct threat to global food security. The pandemic will likely cause global supply-chain breaks, food shortages, and price spikes, exacerbating poverty and hunger in regions with already poor health care infrastructure and social safety protection, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly one in five people on the subcontinent are already considered undernourished, which can contribute to an underdeveloped immune system, making them even more susceptible to COVID-19.
In the United States, many children rely on school meals for basic nutrition; developing countries such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa lack these sorts of social safety nets. In situations such as these, subcontinental citizens are often forced to sell their productive assets (such as livestock and equipment) in exchange for short-term food supplies, making them more susceptible to malnutrition in the long term. (For more information on COVID-19’s effects on global food security, visit: https://borgenproject.org/global-food-security/.)
So, what can we, as Hamptonites, do?
For starters, consider donating to organizations that help fight worldwide hunger, such as World Food Program USA, Action Against Hunger, and Our Children’s Food Pantry. These organizations are the ones with boots on the ground working to combat hunger in the developing world.
However, we must also work to ensure foreign aid remains an important part of U.S. foreign policy. To that end, I encourage you to contact your congressional representatives and encourage them to support the International Affairs Budget. The IAB funds global health programs, dire economic relief, and humanitarian aid in the developing world. You can find a form email for this cause here: https://borgenproject.org/issues-homepage/#/49.
Now that we have experienced firsthand the anxieties of food sourcing, hopefully, the pandemic can motivate us to become more aware of the food crises around the world and make us more willing to make a difference in the lives of those who have less.
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