Dallas County's food environment is not favorable, ranking 5.9 out of 10 on the Food Environment Index (FEI). The FEI combines two data points to determine the score - the percentage of the population that is low-income with limited access to grocery stores and the percentage that did not have access to reliable food sources in the past year. Moreover, Texas has a higher food insecurity rate of 18.4% compared to the national average, as reported by the Texas Hunger Initiative. Feeding America states that over 27% of children under 18 in Dallas live in households that have experienced food insecurity in the past year.
Food security is based on three fundamental principles: food availability, food access, and food use. These three elements ensure that everyone has sufficient quantity, resources, and appropriate use to sustain nutrition and care. However, food security and food waste are complex sustainability issues that are intertwined with economics, environment, and equity. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, food production uses 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, 50% of U.S. land, and 80% of all freshwater used in the U.S. Moreover, 40% of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten, which, if reduced by 15%, could feed over 25 million Americans annually.
Food waste begins with production, with a considerable portion of fruits and vegetables being left to rot in the field. This happens because people do not purchase "ugly" fruits and vegetables that are just as tasty and nutritious as their "perfect" counterparts, creating a market with low value. As a result, farmers lose money transporting it to market, leading to food waste. Some organizations are working with farmers to recover these crops and sell them at discount stores and donate them to local food pantries, but there is no widespread effort to recover ugly food. The movement is catching on in Europe, and there are also groups that are trying to fight the ugly food stigma, but it is an uphill battle.
Climate change can impact the growing season for many of the items we enjoy on our table, resulting in crop shortages and livestock losses. Extreme weather conditions such as flooding, drought, and heat waves can lead to higher food prices. The fluctuation in the oil market also affects food prices since many of the chemicals used as pesticides and fertilizers are byproducts of the petroleum industry. Additionally, food takes fuel to move; the farther it moves, the more fuel it consumes. Most of the food we eat is no longer sourced locally, so as fuel prices rise, this cost is factored into grocery bills. Moreover, much of our food production has been concentrated in a few areas. If anything happens in those areas, like fires or droughts, it can be felt all the way down the food chain to our table.
The USDA uses several indicators of access to measure food store accessibility for individuals and neighborhoods. These measures and definitions take into account factors such as accessibility to sources of healthy food, distance to a store, or the number of stores in an area. Individual-level resources that may affect accessibility, such as family income or vehicle availability, and neighborhood-level indicators of resources, such as the average income of the neighborhood and the availability of public transportation, are also considered. This highlights the importance of equity and access to healthy food, which is a crucial factor in achieving food security.
The "Shop 2 Save The World" initiative by World Change Business Services is committed to tackling food insecurity among the Dallas population. By partnering with local businesses to provide payment processing services, the initiative generates a passive revenue stream. Local businesses can avail themselves of the same payment products and services, at the same cost they are currently paying, while contributing towards the initiative's goals of addressing the food, housing, and medication insecurity for real people in the Dallas community.
To support these goals, the initiative utilizes 50% of World Change Business Services' passive revenue stream to fund real impact for real people, in Dallas and beyond. In Phase 2 of the initiative, the focus is on addressing food insecurity by distributing $4,000 worth of $200 Aldi gift cards to individuals in need through a local food bank. The program aims to reach a revenue benchmark of $12,000 before implementing Phase 2.
World Change Business Services believes that the business community has the power to bring about positive change for people and communities that enrich them. We encourage people to follow our progress and participate in the conversation as we strive to save the world - one person, one community, and one planet at a time.
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