Hannah Pagel, an Iowa State University sophomore majoring in agriculture and society, also works as a student administrative assistant. Her agriculture background is firmly rooted in the rural area of northeast Iowa.
Walmart Closings Lead to Food Deserts
|Hannah at meal packaging event.
Recently, I have been watching the local news and have seen many segments about Walmart and their decision to shut down 154 stores across the country. The media also mentioned the effect this has on local communities
and how closing such stores has led to food deserts.
During the first semester of my sophomore year, I enrolled in a sociology class covering topics such as food deserts—a topic many, including myself, would never think about on a day-to-day basis. I was shocked. To be considered living in a food desert, one must reside in an area where there are no supermarkets or convenience stores within a one-mile radius—that is for an urban area and a ten-mile radius for a rural area. That’s not a lot of ground covered at all. But when factors such as transportation and poverty come into play, it makes sense why the distance would be so low.
This topic not only intrigues me but also hits close to my heart. When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to attend the World Food Prize (photo above). This organization is founded on the principals of Norman Borlaug, the man responsible for starting the Green Revolution and saving over one billion lives worldwide. The World Food Prize not only wanted to recognize the men and women working to end the plague of world hunger but also wanted to educate young students on the topic and allow them the opportunity to take a deeper look into this epidemic.
Being a part of the World Food Prize is where my passion for world hunger began, and I wanted to make a difference in spreading the word about this topic. At first, I noticed I was referring to third-world countries or areas outside the United States as places where world hunger was present. When I volunteered at my local food pantry, I noticed the presence of hunger in my local county. But as my journey continued, I noticed world hunger taking place right in the heartland of the Midwest.
I never understood how an agricultural state such as Iowa could be affected by world hunger. But then I realized world hunger is like a puzzle. There are so many factors that make up each piece of this puzzle: from food deserts, to infrastructure, to economies, to the government, and much more. Each piece needs to be taken into account before we can see the final picture, and that will take time.
The cool thing is, we all have a piece to this puzzle. Whether it is growing the food we eat, driving food across the country, working in the grocery store, packaging meals for others, donating food, or just spreading the word about food security. When we come together and connect our pieces, we are contributing to a solution. So I ask you, what can you do to solve the problem of hunger and poverty in the world? All you have to answer with is an idea or a method. So what’s your puzzle piece?
by Hannah Pagel