Hunger, a national and American security challenge


America is one of the richest nations on Planet Earth. America has led the way on creating new industries, producing national wealth, generating jobs, taking the lead in ventures in space and in maintaining a world-class military. 

America has also produced systemic inequities that span across the human, cultural, and social spectra. When it comes to the basic necessities of life in America and its colonies, food and access to nutritious food has been and remains a monumental challenge. About 35 million citizens are food insecure today, including 9 million kids. Food insecurity impacts every segment of the American imperial landscape, especially rural populations and populations that are relatively less advantaged.

The Biden administration is taking on the American hunger challenge. The Biden administration held a conference on hunger, health and nutrition recently, which was the first presidential administration to sponsor such a conference in almost half a century. The president wants to end hunger throughout America by 2030. Can he do it? 

What the President is focusing on 
The president has five focus areas when it comes to taking on hunger across this vast imperial nation. The first area is food affordability and access. This focus area comprises 23 different initiatives. These initiatives are being led by states, nonprofits, for-profit companies, and university systems all for the purpose of helping poor people have greater access to healthy foods. 

The second area is health and nutrition and is led by approximately 14 organizations, mostly non-profit entities. The third food security focus area is access to healthy foods, made up of about 17 organizations nationwide, mostly private sector grocery store chains. The fourth pillar is about exercise and food security and is led mostly by nonprofit community entities. The last pillar, the fifth pillar, is about food security research led by six entities who have the mission to educate families about

Contradictions abound 
As America continues to battle the war against domestic hunger, it is concurrently fighting a war on food waste. Food waste dumped into landfills nationwide constitutes the single largest contributor toward garbage accumulation by volume. About 30% of food harvested, sold, and transported is wasted in America. Methane gas produced by food waste worldwide is reported to emit up to 10% of total greenhouse gases. 

As the world’s richest country, America can do better. We can do better, for example, by looking and revisiting existing statutes and law enforcement mechanisms on how we manage refrigerated foodstuffs, and how we collectively manage restaurant-delivered portions, which in many instances is simply too much food.  

Possible ways to further role model good food waste practices
Require stores, grocery stores and village markets to sell products such as recently expired milk, which is still perfectly good for consumption, at deep discounts, instead of throwing it away. Produce legislation to require coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels to sell perfectly good excess food at deep discounts to the public after certain times of the day instead of throwing it out. 

Have restaurants consider cutting back slightly on portions given customers. Many restaurants are a little bit too generous when it comes to portion control and now is the perfect time to revisit once again how to better manage food waste. Why not sell deeply discounted food that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage and eventually end up producing methane gas in the landfill? 

Now is the time to start charging restaurants, stores, and businesses that simply throw away unspoiled food. Perhaps there might be legislative opportunities to more effectively incentivize how perfectly good food waste is managed and shared with those less fortunate. 

Food security is a home island and homeland security matter that ultimately remains a national security matter. Millions of citizens, including fellow Pacific Islanders, might be able to further reduce diet-related illnesses with better access and consumption of nutritious foods. As the elections approach us all, now is the time to revisit all concerns tied to food security throughout our island chain and the nation. 

Rick Arriola Perez | Author
Rick Arriola Perez is a U.S. military veteran who has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bank of Hawaii, and the government of Guam. He holds several degrees including ones from UCLA and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Rick is passionate about national security and foreign affairs in the Pacific Asia region and runs a blogsite called Guam Affairs at For more information, contact Perez at

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