2nd Annual Alaska Food Security Awareness Week is Underway
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2016
Juneau – Alaska is food insecure, with only 3-5 days of food supply in grocery stores. Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) is continuing her work to address food security by hosting the Second Annual Alaska Food Security Awareness Week, which will run through March 25th with events in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Sitka. Representative Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) has joined Rep. Tarr in co-sponsoring events this week.
This year’s theme is food waste elimination. In the U.S., $133 billion pounds of usable food is discarded every year. That’s 31 percent of our country’s food supply and enough to feed 175 million people for a year. This problem was recognized and highlighted by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture last September when he set the first ever goal of reducing food waste in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2030.
“It’s an astounding amount of waste that could be put to use to feed hungry individuals,” said Rep. Tarr. “These tough budget times have us all examining how we use our resources, and being wasteful is not an option. In Alaska, 1 in 7 of our neighbors struggles with food insecurity. By creating more opportunities for unused food items, discarded food can be used by food banks and food pantries to feed those in need.”
In December 2015, the federal government changed federal tax law to create more opportunities for food donations. The Food Bank of Alaska currently receives almost five million pounds of donated food each year. New tax incentives could help even more businesses, including those in the fishing industry, become part of the solution to food waste reduction.
“The solutions to food insecurity in Alaska are multiple,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “We should cut down on waste, embrace growing and harvesting our own food, and be prepared in advance for unforeseen disruptions in the delivery of food from other locations. By raising awareness about the issue of food waste reduction, I’m confident Alaskans will step up to be a part of the solution.”
A 2013 report from the University of Alaska Anchorage indicated that more than 11 percent of households in Alaska are food insecure. The greatest number of those who are food insecure live in Anchorage or surrounding areas, but the prevalence of food insecurity is greatest in the rural areas of the state. Alaska ranks last in agriculture production compared to other states, and a large majority of the seafood caught in Alaska is exported overseas. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources reports that there are 44 farmers markets in Alaska, but only four of those markets are open year round.
A part of the Second Annual Alaska Food Security Awareness Week, Reps. Tarr and Kawasaki are sponsoring four showings of the film “Just Eat It” this week in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, and Sitka. The film showcases farmers, retailers, consumers, and organizations working to prevent food waste in North America, thereby increasing food security. Rep. Tarr spoke about the Second Annual Food Security Week during the “A Juneau Afternoon” program on KTOO public radio on Monday.
Rep. Tarr is working with community organizations on the 2nd Annual Food Security Awareness Week. On Thursday, Jennifer Carter from the Sitka Local Foods Network will be available for questions at (907) 747-0520. On Tuesday, Lori Hanemann from the Alaska Public Interest Research Group will be available in Fairbanks at (907) 347-7572. In Anchorage, also on Tuesday, Cara Durr from the Food Bank of Alaska will be available for questions at (907) 232-8820. Sarra Khlifi from the Alaska Food Policy Council is available at (907) 306-0090. Rep. Geran Tarr is available for questions about Tuesday’s showing in Juneau at (907) 465-3424.