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Dive In!

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This is a response to a study released last week reporting that student hunger is the third biggest problem for teachers.

Hunger, poverty and obesity are things that go hand in hand. Most people you say this to don't understand how this can be possible, but it's true. Now, teachers are also reporting that hunger amongst their students is one of the biggest problems they face in educating our nations children.

It is a sad state of affairs when our children only receive one or two meals a day, and those are provided by schools. Many families suffer from not being able to afford food, especially healthy and nutritional food, and that was before the current economic crisis.

When such individuals as Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, and even myself, are focused on child nutrition and obesity, it is equally as important to remember that many of these children and their families are going hungry. They can't afford more than that $1 cholesterol- and saturated-fat-filled cheeseburgers.

In stark contrast to the issue of hunger is the fact that here in the U.S., we produce 200 percent of our energy consumption. Meaning, nearly 50 percent of all food produced in the U.S. ends up in a landfill.

Just last December, I had the opportunity to take part of a discussion panel following a screening of the film Dive! - Living Off America's Waste at the Capitol in D.C. Director Jeremy Seifert starts out his film by dumpster diving, but ends up questioning why all of the food he found was simply thrown out while people go hungry.

In short, there is no real answer. Maybe supermarkets are afraid of donating food, despite the fact that there is no reported lawsuit following the donation of food and somebody getting sick.

This is also despite President Clinton's signing of the Good Samaritan Act, which protects companies from civil and criminal liability for donating food and encourages donations.

But, the astonishing truth is that 96 billion pounds of food is thrown out in the U.S. ever single year. As Jeremy Seifert points out, and given my interest in Haiti as a director of J/P Haitian Relief Organization, that is enough food to feed Haiti for 5 years! And yet, there are families and children going hungry right here, in our own communities.

In bringing up food waste, I am not even discussing all of the other issues it presents, such as the environmental impact, or Big Ag, and how they argue (falsely, I believe) that we need GMOs to feed everyone. Rather, let's immediately focus on the basic issue in front of us -- that people are going hungry and in turn are eating cheap and unhealthy food.

In today's economic times, consider the fact that it just might be your very own neighbor who cannot afford to feed their children. Forty percent of this staggering food waste takes place in the home. Let's all do our part to make sure people and especially our children have even the most basic necessities in life -- food.

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