Sheila Nesmith is happy if she is able to eat at least one meal a day. A resident of Germantown who was born without fingers on each hand deals with the daily struggle to cook every day. Sugar Moore, on the other hand, scarfs down whatever food she sees due to the fact that she is homeless. These citizens are just a few of the many people throughout the country dealing with food insecurity and hunger.
These residents attend Face to Face to receive a home cooked meal when they can. Located at 109 East Price Street in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Face to Face is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of the community. Their main focus is to meet basic human needs and reduce the suffer of hunger. With their motto “hospitality, mutuality, and transformation,” Face to Face thinks of everyone as equals and should be treated as such. The program serves around 500 meals every Friday through Monday.
Here is the front entrance to Face to Face, located at 109 E. Price Street in Germantown.
The services provided at the organization have greatly expanded from the soup kitchen it was founded as decades ago. Today, one cannot only get a hot meal, but they can also obtain health screenings, legal and social services provided by trained professionals, take art classes, or even take shelter from the outside elements and enjoy a warm shower free of charge.
I took a look at what Face to Face really does and produced this slideshow of pictures from the outside and inside the kitchen and dining halls of the organization.
Executive Director at Face to Face, Mary Kay Meeks-Hank, has seen those who walk through the doors experiencing hunger. For that reason, she believes every person, no matter who they are, deserves the same respect as someone who has a nice meal on their table every day. “There’s nothing about privilege. It’s really about what we have to do for one another as human beings,” she says, “The day that we can say that every mean served here at Face to Face is a meal that any one of us would be happy to serve to our families and to our friends, we will know we have achieved our goal.”
Here is a compelling video my group and I took of the few people at Face to Face and Meeks-Hank along with their thoughts on food security in the community:
Despite their unique and compelling stories, everyone we spoke to, including Meeks-Hank, supported the La Salle University partnering with the organization in an effort to provide healthy meals to the community and surrounding areas of Olney. Meeks-Hank was excited to join the partnership after she was contacted by one of the main figures, Tom Wingert, of the Exploring Nutrition project at the university.
There were also some other experts that came to discuss the topic of food security to our class of student online journalists. Professor Julie Ann Henstenberg who is head of the nutrition program at La Salle, discusses her idea of people she refers to as “positive deviants.” She says it is an anthropological perspective that looks at people who have limited resources, but live in the neighborhood and have positive outcomes from buying fruits and vegetables. Her goal, in a sense, is to reach out to those people to see how they achieve success to a healthy lifestyle. “I want to know how they do it, what resources they use, what their beliefs are, what their knowledge is, then once I figured that out I want to be able to take that and distribute that to the knowledge of the neighborhood,” said Henstenberg. Here is that topic Henstenberg discussed in the first minute of this video:
In a more broader form of research, the World Food Summit of 1996, a program linked to the World Health Organization, defined food security being apparent “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” The program says food security is built on three pillars: Food availability, food access, and food use. There are many arguments people in North Philadelphia and around the world can address, but here are a couple main points the Food Summit lists:
- There is enough food in the world to feed everyone adequately; the problem is distribution.
- Future food needs can – or cannot – be met by current levels of production.
- National food security is paramount – or no longer necessary because of global trade.
- Globalization may – or may not – lead to the persistence of food insecurity and poverty in rural communities.
In another study about food insecurity by the United States Department of Agriculture, 50.1 million people lived in food insecure households– 12.1 million were adults, 8.6 million were children. With that being said, the households with the highest food insecurity rates of 20.6 percent were the households with children. These numbers are displayed visually in a graph below: