Free food for all? Absolutely. In this age of abundance, it should be a human right

Claudia Montenegro, left, talks with Elizabeth Shoemaker at Porchlight Community Service food pantry Thursday, May 6, 2021, in San Diego.  For millions of Americans with food allergies or intolerances, the pandemic has created a particular crisis: Most food banks and government programs offer limited options.  (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Claudia Montenegro, left, with Elizabeth Shoemaker at Porchlight Community Service food pantry in San Diego in 2021. Nonprofits help to meet a need, but the government could do more for food security and farmers. (Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Everyone should have access to food. Yet it’s not considered a human right — like education or healthcare or drinking water — that is defended and guaranteed by the government. why?

Maybe because, until recently, it was hard to imagine the technology, the industrial systems and the abundance to support universal food access. But it’s looking possible these days, and tentative experiments are moving the US in that direction.

The idea of ​​providing total access to food has been taking hold in different forms: As lines outside of food banks persisted and hunger skyrocketed during the pandemic, public schools temporarily offered free meals to all students. In the last two years, lawmakers have been debating bills that would make school lunches free for all, permanently.

States including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Vermont and cities like New York have already secured funding for their own free meal programs, regardless of family income. Universal food policies have also appeared in Minnesota, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin. In 2021, West Virginia policymakers proposed adding a “right to food” to the state’s constitution, while Maine’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted for a similar measure. The United Nations food systems summit in 2021 even promoted the idea of ​​universal access globally.

One way

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