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Food insecurity: the issues


Eating is Changing the World, the podcast series that decodes food systems - Episode 2

November 2022 marks the passing of the 8 billion human beings on Earth, which places the question ofaccess to sustainable food at the heart of the debate. The notion of food insecurity is intimately linked to this reflection - indeed, many people cannot access sustainable food despite the existence of a sustainable food supply. Thissecond episode of Eating is Changing the World welcomes Emma Sourisseau, a Soliance Alimentaire consultant specializing in food accessibility. In a 6-minute discussion, she explains the different issues related to food insecurity.

Food insecurity: definition

According to the FAO, food insecurityis the lack of access to " sufficient, safe and nutritious food for normal growth, development and active living "[1]. 1] This may be due to the geographic unavailability of quality food, or a lack of resources to obtain it. The FAO proposes a scale to measure the level of food security of an individual: food security, mild food insecurity, moderate food insecurity and severe food insecurity. This tool, known as the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), provides a concrete understanding of the situation of individuals in difficult circumstances. It is important to remember that food insecurity is one of the challenges in the fight against hunger in the world.

[1] FAO. (n.d.). Hunger and food insecurity. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from

MCCLM Episode 2: Understanding Food Poverty Issues

In this 6-minute episode, Emma Sourisseau offers a clear definition of the issues surrounding food insecurity and the challenges of healthy eating, regardless of an individual's income or geographic location.

Emma Sourisseau shares with us an observation:

" 2.6 million people in 2006, 5.5 million in 2017, and between 5 and 7 million in 2020... These are the startling figures for the number of people using food aid in France. According to the Secours Catholique's 2021 annual report on the state of poverty in the country, the health crisis has revealed a precariousness that is already well established. The inflation that France is going through, the consequences of the post-COVID period and the war in Ukraine... The context questions our food resilience and unfortunately pushes the most modest to reduce the quality of their food. This moment in our history could however become a real lever to transform our food system via alternative solutions."

Transforming our food system to fight food insecurity

Emma Souriceau explains the importance of making the shift to fairer food systems:

" Sustainable diets help protect and respect both biodiversity and ecosystems. They are culturally acceptable, economically equitable, accessible, affordable, nutritionally safe and healthy. They also optimize natural and human resources. The primary conditions foraccess to this type of food are economic and physical."

For her, however, it is necessary to go further - she specifies that :

"Access to food must include adaptation to the nutritional and cultural needs of each person. Particular importance will also be attached to the conditions of the food production method, whether it is in long or short circuits, or in peasant, organic or conventional agriculture. The question of environmental, social and economic sustainability must be addressed regardless of the life cycle of the production. As part of the transition to more sustainable food systems, we must ensure that there are good conditions for access to information and education on all of these subjects.

Fighting food insecurity: many challenges to be met

Rethinking the sector to make it accessible to the greatest number of people is therefore a major challenge. However, like any transition, this effort to change is accompanied by social problems. These resistances can represent a real headache for this large-scale project:

" Yes, there are many challenges to be met around precariousness. Nevertheless, the notion of quantitative insufficiency must be overcome to move towards a more qualitative approach. This is why food must be seen as a vector of social ties, employment, income, relationship to the world, sensory and social pleasure. It is an element of health, of individual and cultural identity.

To better understand the problem, here is a summary of the issues related to food insecurity:

" To provide all people, at all times, with economic and material access to quality food. That is to say, food that meets the nutritional, cultural and social needs of everyone. It must also respect the environment and the dignity of all.

For Emma Souriceau, the solution is clear: " All stakeholders in the sector must be mobilized to transform our food system - territories, companies and citizens.

The action of Soliance Alimentaire

Thanks to the expertise of Emma Sourisseau, a specialist in food accessibility, Soliance Alimentaire creates links between producers and consumers to make things happen. She explains what these actions consist of:

" With Soliance Alimentaire, I am helping a food aid association to develop local supplies from agricultural producers in several departments. The objective of this association is to buy quality foodstuffs to better meet the needs of the people it serves. Its mission is also to support local producers, to create a link between the social and agricultural spheres and to reduce the environmental impact linked to their supply. "

This support is part of Soliance Alimentaire's raison d'être: "to accompany changes in production, distribution and consumption specific to agricultural and food systems for the benefit of the sustainability of resources, the good health of companies and consumers, all while respecting all of its stakeholders".

Emma Sourisseau explains how the firm carries this reason for action on a daily basis:  

" Soliance alimentaire is committed to being a driving force in providing access to sustainable food for all. Our mission? To decode, anticipate, and enlighten public and private actors on emerging models such as social security of food, food democracy, and the right to food. Our firm makes it a point of honor to fight against food insecurity through various interventions: the structuring of local agricultural circuits, the coordination of actors in the field and the diagnosis of food insecurity. The latter involves the evaluation of 5 specific areas: economic insecurity, population vulnerability, the census of food aid, the available supply and health. We deploy these topics within our territorial food projects (TAP). This is particularly the case for the action we are carrying out in the Vaucluse, in conjunction with the department, which is implementing a PAT with a social and educational vocation."

Yes, feeding 8 billion human beings in a way that is fair, respectful of their health, their needs and their culture represents one of the greatest challenges for our society in the future. As Emma Sourisseau showed us in this episode of Manger, c'est changer le monde, solutions exist and many people are already working to bring them to light.

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