As many Capital Area Food Bank clients and supporters know, stable food access means stable health as well. Historically, stable food access was the result of regular rainfall, seasons and temperatures that were necessary for the growth and the sheer volume of food that the United States produces.
Yet, with the 2012 drought and increasing craziness in national climate patterns we may experience shifting food supplies that in turn will affect the food bank’s operations and our clients. So, exactly how extensive are climate changes today?
A recent NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) study found that the period from July 2011-June 2012 to be the warmest year on record in 47 states since national record-keeping began in 1895.
Such heat impacts lead to drought and warming water temperatures, which are spelled out in a 2012 EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) summary:
- increased flood incidence, as in the Mississippi River in 2008 with estimated crop losses of $8 billion;
- prolonged pest and fungi epidemics affecting corn, soybean and other crops costing $11 billion/year in removal;
- decreased pasture and feed supplies, leading to ballooning beef, chicken, diary and pork prices; and
- increased water temperatures that lead to declining lobster, salmon, and other fish and shellfish catches.
Admittedly, this is a bleak picture. Yet, all is not necessarily foreboding…at least right now.
In my next post, I’ll share some ideas about steps the food bank and its clients can take to work towards fair, stable food access for all those involved. Furthermore, I will talk about how food bank staffers have found slowly increasing food prices at area supermarkets and what can be done to help consumers and distributors eat affordably and healthily. From continuing to fund our country’s safety nets, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), to helping neighborhoods access locally-grown produce, the Food Bank is making an impact.