Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Blake Young, CEO of Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, who will be speaking at the summit.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Blake Young (BY): Food and water are the key elements to life. Large- and small-scale farming not only feed the world but employ thousands of folks. Low-income families suffer from diet-related illnesses at an alarming rate. Food is medicine. Access to healthy food and education about healthy eating will have an enormous impact on our society. Food banks play an incredible role of providing critical healthy food to folks who are food insecure and help minimize food waste. Agriculture is the lifeblood to all of this.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
BY: Investments in infrastructure related to food processing and cold storage; efforts to minimize food waste; public education campaigns about the real cost of eating healthy and the medical benefits; awareness about how supporting local creates employment opportunities; and investment in your regional food bank, who in turn can support all of the partner agencies who are working directly with the low-income populations.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
BY: Technology related to water management and non-toxic pest management; investments in smaller organic farms that use essential soil management techniques to keep the farm sustainable and thriving; and new food waste considerations—is it possible to get food left on farms to local food banks by creating a system with which food banks cover the cost of the second harvest runs?
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
BY: My food heroes are all of the men and women who, after World War II and the Great Depression, worked tirelessly to create food programs for all the families who could not afford to keep good food on the table.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
BY: What drives me most is the reality of school children and seniors suffering from food insecurity in the greatest food growing region in the world. About 250,000 people in Sacramento County are food insecure. This number is totally unacceptable!
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
BY: Food waste, the decline in number of people who scratch cook, and the amount of cheap, processed foods available.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
BY: Investments in water management/water storage and food waste; the introduction of food and agriculture back into the classroom; and manufacturing/processing infrastructure investments back at levels of the 1960s.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
BY: Minimize food waste, learn how to scratch cook, and grow food in a small space at your house.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
BY: All children (our future leaders) have access to healthy food and decrease the amount of food that is wasted.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
BY: Making investments in the reduction of food waste. If 40 percent of all food is wasted, not only are we disrespecting the amount of work it takes to grow or make food, we are throwing away a valuable resource that could help feed struggling families.
Join the discussion using #FoodTank across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!