Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Nancy Roman, the President and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, who will be speaking at the summit.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Nancy Roman (NR): I was inspired to get into food and agriculture by a mentor who provided me a big opportunity. I decided to stay because I believe food and nutrition are about as fundamental to human existence as breathing.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
NR: The big opportunities I see to “fix” the food system are:
- Creating predictable, reliable, affordable access to good food regardless of socio-economic status—perhaps not all kinds of good food, but sufficient good food with an emphasis on fresh produce.
- More knowledge and understanding about food as a means to wellness.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
NR: I am most excited about food hubs as a distribution innovation.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
NR: There are many. The most recent was a woman who runs one of our food pantries and listened to a group of those who provide food saying how people won’t eat whole wheat pasta. She said she created a “did you know” table with information about why it was good for you and samples of what it could taste like. She is moving the needle. It matters.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
NR: What drives me every day are the mothers who can’t feed their children foods that will increase their chances of being healthy and productive.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
NR: Among the biggest problems we face that our grandparents didn’t are: saturation of processed foods and multimillion dollar advertising campaigns pushing that bad-for-you food on children.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
NR: The most pressing problem is lack of access to produce and lack of affordable produce.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
NR: Cook something or eat something raw instead of something packaged.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
NR: I would like to solve the supply chain. We are producing way too many sheet cakes, pastries, cookies, and candies that get dumped on poor communities via food banks, and it has to stop.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
NR: I would like the United States to quit subsidizing corn (corn syrup) and sugar, which is driving diabetes in this country, and start subsidizing green vegetables or at minimum subsidizing their acquisition through SNAP.
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