How America Got Fat


By Nicole Inniss

Dinner time at Graham Dining Hall looks like a failed lesson in portion control. Ravenous undergrads serve themselves piles and piles of food, and half an hour later shove most of that food back on the conveyor belt or in the trash bin. Maybe it was just in my household, but wasting anything, especially something my mother spent money on, was an absolute hell-no. I can’t tell you how many times my mother lectured me on the people starving in China. While Americans cram more and more food down the garbage disposal, families around the world struggle to serve just one meal a day.

We are about to enter the second worldwide food shortage in three years, the first occurring in 2007. Food prices for humans and animals alike skyrocketed all over the world in the past few months, affecting luxury foods and essential foods such as wheat, meats, and dairy. Harsh winter storms, floods, and droughts destroyed crops across nations, leaving countries only enough food to feed themselves, depleting export economies. Recessions are now on the rise in many once “thriving nations” such as China, Argentina, Australia, India…and the U.S. of A.

The UN World Food Program announced in early January that it is nearly $3 billion short in funding for the fight against global hunger. With food prices rising, this number is likely to grow. Yet this shortage is slowly sliding through the cracks. The media blockades Americans’ knowledge of a crisis at hand with their obsession with oil prices and Charlie Sheen’s particular brand of crazy. We focus on the extraneous news because many Americans can’t even fathom an empty freezer. Focusing on driving a car might become a little difficult on a five-day-long empty stomach. We need to start paying attention to what our media broadcasts as well as what they don’t, and question why certain issues aren’t addressed in a timely manner.

Wegmans is one business that is not letting this issue slide. Management recently launched a chain-wide program locking in prices on 40 items it feels are necessities for families. These will not change throughout 2011. Wegmans also launched a radio advertisement spreading the word about the food crisis and what it’s doing about it.

More businesses and individuals need to follow Wegmans’ lead and take initiative to fix the problem. We need to start asking our government why we aren’t selling our surplus food and what we are doing about our own rise in food prices. We Americans are always quick to help out other nations when an easily distinguished physical threat is clear—hey, Japan—but when we face an issue so vague and continuous, we suddenly forget that we can make a difference.

College students used to be the ones who evoked change years ago. Today, we’re so consumed by insipid videos on YouTube we’re not focusing on life’s basic necessity—food. So let’s use our SUpercards for change. Anytime you’re in the Warehouse or any grocery store on campus, swipe yourself an extra can of soup or any non-perishable item and send it to a local food bank. The Central New York Food Bank is located right in East Syracuse, so no excuses. And if you want to take it a step further, start making phone calls to the representatives of your home state and ask them what they are doing about the food shortage. Better yet, ask how you can help. We need to re-establish our priorities because with world food prices rising, our future isn’t looking so healthy.