Feeding the Hungry: Analysis of Food Insecurity in Lower Income Urban Communities
This chapter addresses the historical relationship between the United States political economy and urban hunger and connecting recent growth-oriented urban policies to a neoliberal hegemony of hunger. It explicates the connections between local food systems and neoliberal principles of market entrepreneurialism, subjectivities of self-improvement, and devolution of hunger-ameliorating initiatives to the local scale. Local food systems in various forms are frequently touted as an answer to the problem of urban hunger in capitalist economies. The federal government began food assistance programs that fed the urban poor with farm commodity surpluses purchased to prop up farm incomes during hard economic times. Work by political theorist Antonio Gramsci can describe how the shift from an entitlement toward a food-as-gift economy is tolerated by US society, even though it ultimately undermines a common basis for collective food security. Ideologies of urban growth machines and the professionalization of the food-as-gift service sector emphasis on personal improvement therefore contribute to a neoliberal hegemony of hunger.