Building a Movement to Recognize Food Security as a Human Right in the United States
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Food insecurity in the United States is an ordinary facet of life for nearly 15 % of the population. Food assistance policy has been dominated by charitable and needs-based systems that are largely ameliorative, and do not address underlying conditions that create hunger and widespread food hardship. This chapter contrasts these approaches to food access in the United States with a “rights-based” framework to food security. After summarizing international standards on the right to food and outlining key features of US food assistance policy, the authors describe examples of community-based practice to ensure a right to food in the United States. The authors highlight the lack of knowledge among social workers about food security and international standards on the right to food and nutrition. Arguing for engagement by the social work profession in developing advocacy for food justice, this chapter is a call for action to create a rights-based approach to food security. The authors highlight the strengths of building a rights-based community practice approach that examines the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of food assistance programs at local and state levels.