Volunteers prepare to put bags and boxes of food in vehicles at a Sept. 11 distribution giveaway by Kingdom Fellowship AME Church at High Point High School in Beltsville. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the ongoing coronavirus pandemic affects those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The federal agency noted how the pandemichas brought social and racial injustice and inequity to the forefront of public health.”

Various health studies and reports have shown health ailments are more prevalent in the Black community. A panel led by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the country’s lack of healthy food options are part of the reason.

“We have a savagely broken food system that is hurting everyone but big, multinational corporations where too many Americans are overfed, but undernourished,” he said Tuesday during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 50th annual legislative conference. “It is making our nation tragically sit on epidemic levels.”

Booker, who’s been a vegan for about seven years, spoke during a nearly one-hour session titled “Food Justice: The State of Food and Nutrition in Black Communities.”

According to Move for Hunger of Red Bank, N. J., about one in six children “face hunger each day” and 42 million Americans are food insecure, or lack resources to provide affordable and healthy food options.

Three women – Tambra Raye Stevenson, Karen Washington and Jasmine C. Leyva – outlined several ideas to produce a healthier society such as:

  • Provide financial incentives for new businesses that manufacture healthy products.
  • Cook school lunches versus serving processed food heated in microwaves.
  • Show videos of how animals are killed to produce food.
  • Read the labels that showcase calories, sugar and information on food and drink products.

Washington, co-owner and farmer at Rise & Root Farm in Chester, N.Y. , said government officials should incorporate zoning laws to limit the location of fast-food restaurants.

“We have 7.8 billion on this Earth, but [only] a handful of corporations controlling our food system,” she said. “Our number one target is our children.”

Levya, who produced a film two years ago called “The Invisible Vegan” at, said she would “wave my wind and require truth.”

For instance, she said, chicken processing features the use of chlorine, the chemical used in swimming pools to kill bacteria and found in some household cleaning products.

“Rebuild the trust between the people and the government,” said Leyva, who resides in Los Angeles. “If you are putting out policies on top of distrust, you’re not going to have people getting involved in wanting to see these policies flourish in getting the support [officials] need.”

Stevenson, who serves on the D.C. Food Policy Council, said what’s needed for a healthy society in the Black community that includes: invest in educational programs to hire Black nutritionists and dieticians, conduct research on African-based diets and secure equitable funding from the Small Business Administration to support Black entrepreneurs.

“These are the issues that need to be addressed,” said Stevenson, who founded Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture at www.iamwanda.org. “An inclusive food system is a resilient food system.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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