At least 10% of people in Mexico experience food insecurity, and in nine Mexican states that figure increases to 25-35%. In Baja California, as many as 7 out of 10 households report they don’t always have weekly access to the food they need due to high prices.
Food insecurity is a prevalent yet often misunderstood issue. It’s easy for people to assume that food insecurity is synonymous with hunger, but they are two distinct issues: hunger is an immediate and physiological need, while food insecurity represents a lack of access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious foods for an active and healthy lifestyle.
The number of people in Baja and Southern Mexico who experience food insecurity is high, and fixing the problem can be complex. The good news is that the Southern Baja Food Security Alliance (SBFSA) is working with local communities to create meaningful solutions to this issue in Baja California Sur.
With a thorough knowledge of the problem and adequate support, we can help the SBFSA give the people of Southern Baja access to affordable, nutritious foods they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Understanding Food Insecurity in Mexico
While Mexico has made great strides in combating chronic hunger, the poor regions of this nation suffer from an equally deadly threat: the fact that having access to adequate, nutritious food is a luxury.
On a national scale, food production is not the source of the problem in Mexico. The Secretary of Agriculture recently reported that the country produces 282 million tons of food per year. Unfortunately, many poor Mexican families can’t access or afford these foods.
One of the primary causes for this is the large wealth disparity in Mexico, resulting in very limited opportunities for its poorest residents. Poor families of Mexico experience not only a lack of financial and economic means to access nutritious food, but also a severe lack of education which has been linked to food insecurity.
Being food insecure results in a host of health issues; one of the most dangerous (and prevalent) of those issues is obesity. The link between food insecurity and high levels of obesity is undeniable. A combination of limited resources and lack of access to nutritious foods leaves many poor families turning to processed foods high in fat and sugar on a regular basis — which are often inexpensive and more readily available. Seven out of 10 Mexicans are overweight, and more than ⅓ of the population is clinically obese.
The health of the Mexican people is at stake. Mexico is currently one of the most obese countries in the world, leading in both adult and childhood obesity rates. This is the gravity of the problem the Southern Baja Food Security Alliance (SBFSA) hopes to solve, with the help of ICF and the generous donors who support their efforts.
How Is the SBFSA Helping?
Since it was founded, the SBFSA has taken a number of critical actions against food insecurity in Baja and Southern Mexico. ICF has supported alliance members to install community gardens at feeding kitchens in at-risk communities, in order to increase access to healthy ingredients. The SBFSA also works in tandem with community stakeholders, to institute education programs that help community members learn how to garden from an early age.
By mentoring community volunteers in both the garden and kitchen settings, these programs teach locals how to grow and harvest fresh, healthy food and how to use that food to cook their own nutritious meals. Thanks to their hard work and the support of generous donors in 2017, 69 community garden plots were harvested, and 682 community members attended healthy cooking and nutrition classes.
Another key initiative of the alliance is to reduce food waste and rescue locally-grown crops that would otherwise be thrown out, often due to strict export standards. To accomplish this, ICF has worked with consultants and members of SBFSA to recruit volunteers and establish a program to collect and distribute fresh produce to the food insecure population in the region. This project has really taken off in 2018 thanks to a grant from Oregon Tilth’s Social Investment Project, coordination by Raíz de Fondo Jardines y Educación A.C., in-kind donations from local producers, the generosity of local volunteers, and a critical partnership with DIF BCS, a public social welfare institution. The plan is to expand this work in future growing seasons from a pilot in La Paz to serve those in need throughout BCS, including Los Cabos.
How Can I Contribute?
No matter where you live, you can help the SBFSA to combat food insecurity through financial donations, which support programs to build more community gardens, fund more cooking and nutrition classes, and expand the food rescue program.
Your contribution will go a long way toward creating sustainable, practical solutions in at-risk communities and ensure long-term change. Join ICF as we support the valuable work of the Southern Baja Food Security Alliance by donating here.