Fighting Hunger In Los Cabos

New food bank is a start to solving the problem

Baja California Sur’s population is struggling with high rates of food insecurity, and the social, health and economic challenges that come with it. Joel Nájera, the International Community Foundation’s food security field coordinator for Baja California Sur, is leading an initiative to solve this problem. With the help of ICF’s food security team and other partners, tremendous momentum for the movement has been generated. Land for a food bank has been donated, arrangements for food supply has been established and public and private leaders have expressed early interest in assisting with fundraising.

The ICF - an American-based non-profit that facilitates international granting for projects supporting environmental, education, health and human services - conducted a comprehensive food security analysis of Los Cabos and La Paz in 2014. This study found that in Baja California Sur, seven out of ten households are food insecure and at least one in 10 households reported having been hungry in the past three months.

Things like negative stereotypes of food-insecure individuals, issues of distribution inequity and a lack of a food policies all perpetuate hunger. Disparity in the distribution of nutritious and affordable food is one of several leading causes of malnutrition. Food stores in low-income communities typically offer more pre-packaged, calorie dense, low-grade nutritious food items because that is what sells. Fresh produce, whole grains and more wholesome foods, on the other hand, are commonly beyond a low-income budget and not popular with less educated low income people.

Another part of the problem is that the system delivering the food has become complicated, commodified and rigid. The current industrialized food system is damaging to communities on multiple levels and has aggravated food insecurity.

Far too many of Los Cabos’ communities face the problems of hunger, poor health and social isolation, and a solution is desperately needed. One part of this solution is the food bank that will be located in the new Los Cabos Youth Center in San José. This center has the potential to bring a positive change towards a more equitable, nutritious, accessible, culturally appropriate and sustainable food system for locals.

This has been an incredible work in progress and, so far, it has established a strong alliance of food security enthusiasts. A food bank is an opportunity to provide a welcoming space where people can gather to cook, grow, share and advocate for good food. This space will provide people with emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting that doesn’t compromise their self-worth. The goal is to provide a food bank that offers multifaceted, integrated and responsive programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills and community.

Food security and hunger should not be determined by wealth or status; healthy food is a right. Healthy individual choices require a supportive environment where food is accessible and affordable. Healthy food environments promote physical, social, environmental, and economic well-being and should be experienced by all. Los Cabos needs a participatory, skill-building and educational approach to solve the issues of food insecurity. Involved citizens, communities, local organizations and government agencies are all key players in the fight against hunger, and this is the vision for the food bank.

To give, please visit.icfdn.orgcontact Eliza Brennan, Marketing and Development Manager at 619-336-2254, or e-mail her at@icfdn.org.