Food insecurity is a prevalent issue that affects thousands of New Jerseyans every day, in every county. Currently 11 percent of New Jersey’s population — or 993,616 people — are “food insecure,” meaning they had limited or nonexistent access to healthy food at some point during the past year.
To start a community-wide conversation about the state of food insecurity in Newark, the Greater Newark Community Advisory Board along with RWJBarnabas Health, and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey hosted a panel discussion on January 30, moderated by NJ Spotlight healthcare reporter Lilo H. Stainton.
The event featured a screening of a new documentary, “Food for Thought: The Path to Food Security in Newark, NJ”, created with local student journalists who captured examples of how food insecurity impacts their health and the health of their communities.
Panelists included advocates and healthcare experts from a variety of fields: Nathaly Agosto Filion from the Newark Office of Sustainability; Shakira McKnight, a citizen journalist featured in the documentary; Amarilys Olivo, the founder of Garden of Worker Bees and agri-science teacher at Essex County Vocational Technical high school; Denise V. Rodgers, vice chancellor of interprofessional programs at Rutgers; and Debra Vizzi, president and CEO of the Community Foodbank of New Jersey.
In this podcast, featuring an introduction by RWJBarnabas vice president Michellene Davis, community members of all ages ask the panelists what can be done to alleviate hunger and get fresh fruits and vegetables into the homes of everyone in Newark. Some of the issues they raise are complex and rooted in the history of Newark itself.