Water Health Educator
Special Topics: Food/GMOs
COVID-19 Encourages DIY Gardening
by Neshanah Barnett
Coronavirus has interrupted economic and agricultural systems globally causing a ripple effect. The effect is extremely apparent in the agriculture and food industries. In the United States labor shortages have aggravated the food supply chain leading to increased food insecurity. Food insecurity was a preexisting issue in the U.S long before COVID19 but the unexpected national shutdowns increased the number of those struggling to afford food.
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) food insecurity is insufficient access to healthy foods necessary to live a healthy life https://www.usda.gov/topics/food-and-nutrition/food-security.
Generally speaking the inability to access healthy food primarily affects those who have an annual household income that falls at or below the poverty line https://aspe.hhs.gov/2020-poverty-guidelines.
On the contrary COVID19 has drastically affected the food and economic system globally, leaving those who are above the poverty line considering other options to obtain food. The current state has encouraged individuals to considered “Do It Yourself” DIY gardening.
For some taking on the challenge of agricultural development is a matter of survival. Lack of access to food for some has been intensified due to layoffs /reduced hours. While others are primarily motivated for health reasons. Then there are those who just have the time to develop a new hobby. Regardless of the reasoning behind the decision, the increase in plant life has had a positive affect on individuals, communities, and the environment.
Community gardens are sprouting up left and right, “from farm to school” meal programs have gained momentum in counties across the country, along with a large-scale increased awareness and appreciation for healthy foods.
Genetically Modified Organisms in the United States and its Effects
by Namuunaa Otgonbaatar
(DOCX — 103 KB)
Safety of U.S. Produce
(DOCX — 1 MB)
Food Security in the USA
by Robel Endrias
(PDF — 360 KB)
Feeding the World: A Monsanto Approach
by Jason Zheng
Feeding the World According to Monsanto.pdf (PDF — 521 KB)
Organic vs. Non-Organic Foods:
Environmental and Health Impacts
America’s Modern Livestock Farming
by Bridget Borton
(PDF — 143 KB)
The Effects of Synthetic Biology
by Samantha Schnabel
(PDF — 185 KB)
Food Scarcity: Food Deserts in America
by Marissa Rollins
(DOCX — 1 MB)
Groceries for All
by Neshanah Barnett
Access to food has been difficult, to say the least, with no promise of food security improving in the near future. Therefore, it's imperative that individuals have a clear understanding of the services available to obtain nutritious foods. These services include but are not limited to SNAP and food banks/pantries. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has become more familiar since Coronavirus.
SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a supplemental service that provides controlled funds in order to purchase groceries. These purchases can be used online (depending on the State), at farmers markets, and at traditional grocery stores. These purchases are made using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). Only those who are eligible are awarded these benefits.
Although eligibility qualifications range State by State, some standards are as follows: citizenship requirements, income (which takes into consideration; cash/ bank account, combination of net and gross income.
Exceptions are made if an individual is elderly or has a disability, household size, along with the income of dependents 22 years and younger, and any retirement/pensions awarded, and job status. Obviously SNAP qualifications disqualify a large percent of the population who are still in great need of these services. Including those who may not have required government assistance in the past; as well as, those who are classified as undocumented but still need support.
For those above mentioned and, in some cases, even SNAP recipients require help. This is where Food Banks can come to the rescue.
The demand on food banks has increased in some parts of the county by the thousands. While the ongoing debate of whether or not a $600 bonus will continue to be granted to those receiving unemployment benefits.
Ultimately, determining if food banks are subject to be hit even harder. Food banks are nonprofit organizations that support the community. Food banks and food pantries are an aspect of relief organizations as a whole. These organizations rely heavily on donations and volunteers. There are no pre-qualifications for receivers of food from pantries. In some cases, families received vouchers based on a confirmed need via other support services but in general any one in need can receive food. If any paperwork is asked to be completed, the answers are based on your own declarations. There are also some that require valid identification simply to ensure that you live in the area.
Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfers (P-EBT)
by Neshanah Barnett
On March 13, 2020 the President Declared the United States a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus. Days, weeks, and months following the announcement, the country went through a range of adjustments. Institutions from financial to religious were forced to decrease in staffing, revamp services, or close altogether. Unfortunately, the educational institutions were not exempt. Therefore, schools began the conversion to distance learning. Thus, replacing the traditional classroom setting with online lectures.
This has had a tremendous effect not only on the teachers, but parents, and students as well. One of the primary effects that has been made clear is the issue of food. There are an estimated 22 million children in this county that depend on breakfast and lunch provided when school is in session. How have students who rely on school meals been able to acquire food with facilities closed? https://www.ncsl.org/ncsl-in-dc/publications-and-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-response-child-nutrition-school-meals.aspx.
Free and reduced lunch prices are the saving grace for millions of children when it comes to lunch at school. Focusing on the needs of such a large population of children organizations and local governments acted quickly to implement plans to insure a solution.
Although temporary, some counties began by providing meals for students to pick up at designated locations. https://schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/5_Learning_Center/13_Emergency_Planning/USDA-Child-Nutrtion-Program-Meal-Service-During-COVID-19-Outbreaks.pdf, and due to the Response Act of 2020, Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfers (P-EBT): were established to supplement school meals. Those eligible for P-EBT were families with children already receiving free and reduced lunch https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/state-guidance-coronavirus-pandemic-ebt-pebt.