BOSTON – January 13, 2015 – The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), the largest hunger-relief organization in New England, today announced its predictions for the five major themes that will shape hunger locally and nationally in 2016. The issues, already becoming priority items for state and federal governments and communities are (in no particular order) fostering community sustainability, understanding the growing epidemic of senior hunger, decreasing wasted food, defining food insecurity, and increasing food safety.
1. Fostering Community Sustainability
By taking a comprehensive approach, GBFB predicts that more communities will continue working together to access hard-to-reach populations and tackle major social issues. Beyond hunger, communities will need to work together on all levels to alleviate homelessness, the opioid crisis and beyond. Already a focus for the Baker Administration, GBFB is taking initiative locally by collaborating with community organizations and developing programs to reach residents such as veterans and college students. They are also prioritizing health initiatives including the launch of more food pantries at community health centers to expand its reach throughout the community.
2. The Growing Senior Hunger Epidemic
Seniors aged 60 and older make up about 20 percent of Boston residents according to the City of Boston’s Report on Aging Seniors. As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, Feeding America foresees the number of seniors requiring food assistance to increase by 50% by 2025. Limited income requires selective spending, e.g. choosing between paying for rent, healthcare costs, or food. To alleviate this issue, GBFB has programs specifically targeted toward low-income seniors and administers the new federal grant program in MA – the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Its Brown Bag program also targets vulnerable seniors, serving about 7,800 per month.
3. Decreasing Wasted Food
In the U.S., 40 percent of food goes uneaten and becomes the single largest component of municipal solid waste. A major focus for 2016, GBFB has established collaborations with Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Food for Free and Daily Table. It is paying close attention to MassDEP’s Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban and communities such as Cambridge taking action on food waste reduction. By creating partnerships and enlisting the community, GBFB hopes to see a reduction in greater Boston food waste in the coming year.
4. Defining Food Insecurity
Nationwide, one in every seven people are considered “food insecure,” meaning they do not receive an adequate amount or quality of food on a given day. Recently, Congress began looking into what determines food insecurity, the role of nutrition and access to healthy options via programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), Farm Bills, and food banks. Hospitals are even starting to explore opportunities to screen for food insecurity via medical intake forms, a process in which GBFB is working locally to help solidify.
5. Increasing Food Safety
Already a hot topic in the news, food safety will remain top of mind throughout 2016. Following recent events at major restaurant chains, everyone from farmers to supply chain managers to storefront owners is examining the safety of the food we eat. GBFB expects this will continue to be a topic of interest throughout the year, focusing on transparency throughout the industry. Locally, GBFB is making improvements to its own supply chain, including a superior rating in a recent annual certification with the American Institute of Baking’s (AIB) food safety certifications.
“Local and national hunger-related issues are diverse and complex, but they affect everyone on some level,” said Catherine D’Amato, GBFB president and CEO. “Paying attention to how these issues shape the face of hunger in 2016 will help us achieve our mission to end hunger here by distributing enough food to provide at least One Meal a Day to those in need.”
For more information about GBFB and the issues surrounding hunger, please visit GBFB.org.
About The Greater Boston Food Bank
The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. GBFB distributes more than 54 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to 550 member hunger-relief agencies and more than 30 direct service programs throughout Eastern Massachusetts in a dedicated partnership to end hunger in our region. This provides meals for as many as 500,000 people a year. GBFB is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. For more information, visit us at GBFB.org, become a fan on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@gr8bosfoodbank), or call us at (617) 427-5200.