Editorial: Securing food for all

The food bank to be set up by the Cebu City Government addresses more than food security.

Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon proposed the establishment of a food bank to address food security during disasters and other emergencies, reported Wenilyn B. Sabalo in SunStar Cebu on Oct. 2.

City Ordinance 2570, also known as “An Ordinance Establishing a Food Bank in the City of Cebu in Times of Public Health Emergencies and Disasters Providing Funds Thereof and Other Purposes,” was enacted last August 2020.

Dizon asked the executive department to allocate P3 million for the operationalization of the food bank.

Conscious food production and consumption underpin food hubs. Community food pantries were set up by citizens and private volunteer associations to provide daily provisions to households made vulnerable during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and consequent community lockdowns.

Even before the pandemic, food insecurity existed amidst food abundance and food wastage.

Stakeholders organizing feeding sessions and community pantries realize that there is a bottomless need for food. Considerable logistics are required to safely store, package, and distribute food.

The P3 million required as allocation for the Cebu City food bank may not be sufficient to sustain the project unless the Cebu City Government operationalizes a food hub that links food producers and consumers in a conscious and purposive campaign to end hunger and its hidden forms, such as malnutrition, undernutrition, and even obesity.

According to Megan Bucknum and Deborah Bentzel in “Food Banks as Local Food Champions,” food banks do more than supply free food to citizens made insecure by poverty, disasters, and emergencies. Organizers of food banks “leverage their purchasing volumes to support regional food security and regional economies,” point out Bucknum and Bentzel.

In this area, a government-run food bank must address the bureaucratic maze that delays the payment of food supplies to encourage local food producers to enter into a partnership with the Cebu City Government.

It is essential to see the networking of food producers and consumers as part of long-term sustainability to meet food security.

Remote mountain barangays struggle against hunger and malnutrition despite the perception that nobody who is capable of work goes hungry in the countryside.

By supporting local food producers, the Cebu City Government addresses the need for livelihood and ecological management, two objectives that are often perceived as conflicting.

At Carbon Market, many children of food vendors are under- or malnourished. The volume of vegetables that is rejected by sellers and buyers in Carbon do not nourish these children even though the vegetables are only unappealing in appearancwe and far from spoiled.

Education on proper nutrition and health must be a continuing campaign for local government units (LGUs). Many LGUs distribute instant noodles and canned sardines as emergency relief provisions, which assuage hunger but leave more insidious long-term effects on a person’s health due to its high concentration of salt and other preservatives.

Community pantries that linked with food producers to make eggs, vegetables, and fruits available during the community lockdowns met twin objectives to support local food producers and provide for the nutrition of local consumers.

In the age of convenience food and questionable eating trends, many parents and guardians have to be re-educated in their appreciation of the links between food, lifestyle, and health. This challenge underlines the operationalization of the Cebu City Government food bank.