How Meals Tank Hopes To Encourage Change within the Meals System


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There’s no denying that our meals system is damaged. In keeping with the USDA, within the U.S. alone, practically 33.8 million individuals—or about 10 % of U.S. households—skilled meals insecurity sooner or later in 2021. But, it’s estimated that meals waste accounts for about 30 to 40 % of the meals provide in America. Then, once you take a look at the variety of individuals dealing with starvation worldwide—which was roughly 345 million in 2022 (that’s greater than all the U.S. inhabitants altogether)—the fact is much more unsettling.

Clearly, the reply is change. That’s the place Meals Tank, a nonprofit group advocating for huge change within the meals system that launched in 2013, is available in to play. We caught up with Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Meals Tank and a Nicely+Good 2022 Changemaker recipient, to be taught extra in regards to the group’s mission to type a neighborhood that educates all about sustainable options for urgent environmental and social issues.

Nicely+Good: Are you able to describe Meals Tank’s mission in a nutshell?

Danielle Nierenberg: What we attempt to do is definitely quite simple. We attempt to spotlight tales of hope and success in meals and agriculture methods, each domestically and internationally, to assist make these bridges between what’s taking place abroad and what’s taking place right here as a result of, typically, it’s very related. We have now a lot to be taught, particularly across the local weather disaster, from what farmers and others are doing to assist resolve it in different elements of the world.

W+G: How do you bridge the hole to attach individuals globally with worthwhile data?

DN: We do a number of various things and attempt to meet individuals the place they’re. For starters, we’ve a really sturdy information web site the place we publish tales from across the globe day by day, 12 months a 12 months. We even have a podcast the place we discuss with completely different specialists about what’s taking place in meals and agriculture methods. We additionally convene many occasions, together with on Capitol Hill, and do a number of on-the-ground analysis in locations like Senegal. On the core of it, we actually simply attempt to elevate consciousness in a centrist method—we’re neither proper nor left, regardless of my very own private or political opinions—and shine a highlight on teams and people who don’t get the assist, analysis, or funding that they want in any other case.

W+G: What impressed you to launch Meals Tank within the first place?

DN: I come from a really small city in Missouri known as Defiance. I grew up round many farmers, although I wasn’t excited about farming on the time. In actual fact, on the time, I blamed farmers for destroying the atmosphere. In faculty, I went on to main in environmental coverage and authorities. Following that, I joined the Peace Corps and volunteered within the Dominican Republic. There, I had an epiphany: I used to be assembly so many farmers who had been doing wonderful issues—like shade-grown espresso and elevating bees—and I spotted the connection between our agricultural methods and the individuals who produce the meals that we eat daily and the way they’re truly supporting wholesome ecosystems.

Later, I labored on the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental suppose tank. There, I led a mission known as Nourishing the Planet, the place I traveled with my now co-founder of Meals Tank to 26 international locations throughout the African continent, highlighting these remodeling the agriculture methods within the area. That is actually what impressed us to begin Meals Tank to inform the tales of hope and success, to change the paradigm of doom and gloom and what’s incorrect with the world to what’s proper with it.

W+G: How do you hope to enact actionable change by means of Meals Tank’s messaging?

DN: I believe a lot of what we learn doesn’t have a transparent motion merchandise. We wish to inform individuals about one thing nice that’s happening and provides them one thing to do with it. For instance, 10 years in the past, people weren’t as enthusiastic about stopping meals loss and waste as they’re now. However now, with details about meals loss, we’re doing easy issues like shopping for much less on the grocery retailer and composting at dwelling, guaranteeing we’re utilizing the meals we purchase and never losing our cash.

W+G: What space wants enchancment that we ought to be specializing in?

DN: It has been thrilling to observe girls, youth, and folk of coloration who’ve been ignored in our meals and agriculture methods for thus lengthy develop into an everyday subject of dialog. An particularly noteworthy statistic is that girls make up about 43 % of world agricultural labor in creating international locations. In some nations, they make up 70 % of farmers, but don’t have the identical entry to schooling, instruments constructed for ladies and never males, monetary banking, and infrastructure, simply to call a couple of. We’re ignoring these girls at our personal peril as a result of if girls had the identical entry to assets as males, they might carry as many as 100 million individuals out of starvation.

W+G: What’s developing within the pipeline in 2023?

DN: We’ll be serving to Fed by Blue, a company that focuses on aquatic meals, launch their Hope is within the Water sequence with chef Andrew Zimmern at Sundance Movie Competition throughout the meals section known as ChefDance. I am additionally talking on the Oxford Farming Convention, an annual convention for farmers in the UK. We’re actually excited to host occasions for the South by Southwest meals observe in March—a sequence of discussions on know-how and coverage that may change how meals might be grown, distributed, cooked, and skilled in more healthy and extra sustainable methods. And we’ll be working with the traditionally Black faculty and college, Huston-Tillotson, to have a meals tank summit and display completely different meals movies. So it is a very thrilling begin to 2023.

Interview has been edited for size and readability.

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