Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 2: Food Distribution Network

The Bank

Today, we explored the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) through a tour and hunger workshop. The facility handles 70 million pounds of food each year and distributes the food to community partners in 29 counties.  They are currently outgrowing their 129,000 square foot building, but their work expands beyond their walls.  The food is distributed through a system of 600 community partners where it is donated to a food bank which then distributes it to food pantries which then distributes it to individuals in the community.  

After our tour of the facility, where we learned a lot about the utility of banana boxes, we sat in on a hunger workshop.  We discussed the different connotations of the words "hunger" and "food insecurity".  Some people present the argument that saying someone is "food insecure" rather than "hungry" downplays the issue by making it less urgent and less personal.  After that discussion, we did an activity where we had to make healthy daily servings of food on a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) budget which is only $4.53 per person per day.  After completing this, we discovered that each student group had access to different food sources based on their "location" in the activity.  This led us to speak about economic inequity within Atlanta and how expensive it is to be poor.  For example, people who don't live near a grocery store, or can't afford to travel to one, have to spend more money at a convenience store for less product and fewer options.  In our discussion about the minimum wage, the entire AB group was surprised to learn that Georgia's minimum wage ($5.15) is much lower than the federal minimum wage ($7.25).  


The Pantry

With one of ACFB's community partners, Southwest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (SWEEAC), we assisted in sorting and unloading food donations that they were receiving for the day.  It was a great opportunity to witness where the food from ACFB actually goes and how the people at SWEEAC work closely with people in the community.  The regular volunteers showed us the ropes and very graciously shared their experiences and stories with us.

The Dinner  

To bring our day with the food bank full circle, we sat down with AB's umbrella organization, Break Away, to have our own meal at the end of the day.  It was nice to share stories and experiences with our topic, food security and about life in general.  

Overall, it was a very fulfilling day 2! Onwards and upwards to Day 3!  In perpetuum gratus!  

-Pranav and Shannon

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