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Courtney Kisner Essay on "The City That Ended Hunger"

Courtney Kisner, a student in Julie Ruth's sophomore language arts class at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "The City That Ended Hunger" by Frances Moore Lappé.

Prompt: In the article, "The City That Ended Hunger," Lappe says, "Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy." What does she mean? How does this statement reflect upon Belo Horizonte?

Read classmate Katelynne Lingaas' response to the same article here.


National Hunger

By Courtney Kisner

In the article, "The City That Ended Hunger," Lappe says, "Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy." What does she mean? How does this statement reflect on Belo Horizonte?

The line for one of three “People’s Restaurants” a half hour before opening time. Meals cost about 50 cents; diners come from all socio-economic groups. Photo by Leah Rimkus
The line for one of three “People’s Restaurants” a half hour before opening time. Meals cost about 50 cents; diners come from all socio-economic groups.
Photo by Leah Rimkus

Food stamps in hand, armed and ready, a single mother of three illustrates a look of shame and solemnity as she approaches the check-out counter. This was the first, but definitely not the last indignant experience she would be having. Since her husband left her while she was pregnant with her set of twins, and due to the demanding recession of the United States, this working mother is forced into her only means of survival aside from homelessness. A situation like this is not hard to stumble upon, even in wealthiest nation in the world. Since the United States is supposed to represent pride, why are we doing little when it comes to instilling hope in fellow Americans? The answer lies within democracy. By learning from a city thousands of miles away, as a nation we could be taught how to unite and support those who are suffering from hunger.

Since the United States produces an overwhelming amount of food, keeping Americans well fed should not be an issue. But it is. According to Yes! Magazine: The City that Ended Hunger: “One in ten of us is now turning to food stamps.” This alarming statistic shows the need for a change. Whether it be large or small, something must be done. If we started with less populated regions and built up, growing and instilling the importance of strong communities, our nation would unite. This is what a city in Brazil is doing. Belo Horizante focuses on providing all of its citizens with life’s essentials because they believe, “food is a right of citizenship.”

Belo Horizante is a real-life model of the potential the United States has. This city that houses 2.5 million people demonstrates the fact that a community only needs a few “innovative” ideas in order to prosper, along with the determination to succeed. Belo Horizante has developed a system where farmers are able to fully profit from their crops and poor people are able to buy nutritious and less expensive food. Therefore, people are benefiting from one another without having to rely on the government. Since our economy is weakening, as a civilization, or as individual communities, we should be able to pick each other up by instilling plans and a strategy like the people of Belo Horizante did. They created a small team of assembly members whose minds thought up a way so that they used their resources to their advantage in order to provide for their people. This group of strong-minded citizens worked by involving those of Belo Horizante who could contribute; more than 31,000 people were participating in this “federal anti-hunger effort.”

By not working together in order to ensure the well-being of our communities, we are not fulfilling our duties as a democracy. We could build one another up by creating efforts or groups aimed at supporting nutrition throughout the United States. Then we would be able to see the accomplished, proud grins of our neighbors as Lappé, author of The City that Ended Hunger was able to witness when she visited Belo Horizante. By aiding one another, a newfound sense of joy would wash over our country.  Our structured democracy needs power like the democracy of Belo Horzante has. With this, we could begin as a role model to other nations and prosper from there.

 


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