First world hunger – wasted food for surplus people?

Why is there food insecurity and hunger in rich countries? What can be done about it? Prof Graham Riches from the University of British Columbia first wrote about hunger in rich countries over 30 years ago. He has just revisited the subject with a Finnish colleague, Tiina Silvasti, professor of social and public policy at the University of Jyväakylä.

I caught up with him in Sheffield on Sunday to ask him about what they had found. You can listen here:

The book they co-edited – First World Hunger Revisited: Food Charity or the Right to Food? – includes chapters on Australia, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the UK and USA.

If you happen to be in London you can hear him speak at a Food Thinkers lecture at City University at 2.00pm on 27th October. If you are not then the lecture will be up on-line afterwards on the Food Research Collaboration website.

Some of his key messages are:

  • Charity and voluntary action to address people’s hunger and food insecurity, while a moral imperative and commendable, are not the answer to the problem but a sticking plaster over it.
  • Governments need to fulfil their obligations under international law to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food.
  • Food banks should be a matter of shame in rich societies and have arisen from the failure of 30 years of neo-liberal economic policies. They are part of the problem not part of the solution but public health and nutrition policies are part of the solution.

You can download his earlier paper in Development in Practice “Thinking and acting outside the charitable food box: hunger and the right to food in rich societies” here

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About geofftansey

I curate the Food Systems Academy, a free, on-line, open education resource to transform our food systems. I am also a member of the Food Ethics Council and chaired the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty, which reported in 2015.
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One Response to First world hunger – wasted food for surplus people?

  1. There are very succinct points made here that should be committed to memory. It is clear that these simple truths were not understood by many of the politicians (and public voters), who debated these issues as part of the recent Scottish referendum.

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