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Using Community Gardens To Help Solve the Hunger Crisis in San Diego County, CA

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  • The World Health Organization defines food security as “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” The reality is that one in six Americans are not food secure, even though the US produces enough food to feed its national population many times over. Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity; and low-income people rarely grow their own food. In San Diego County, (SDC) CA, some 435,000 people are food insecure; they include almost 162,000 children. SDC community gardens can provide inexpensive options to help alleviate county-wide hunger: fill empty stomachs, enrich community cohesion, offer hope to many families, and facilitate long-term food sustainability. My paper identifies several limiting factors that preclude low-income families from using community gardens to supplement their food supply although SDC has ideal climate conditions that facilitate a nearly year-round growing season. First, it explains critical steps needed to establish community gardens; these include permits, site conditions, and garden support organizations. Second, it shows that insufficient time and space are too often perceived as a major limiting factor to growing food in high-density, urban areas. Actually, the major limiting factor is organizational skills that help small communities take action to create local community gardens. Third, it emphasizes those tools necessary to make appropriate connections between people, places, environment, and timing that move a community garden from concept to fruition. Lastly, my paper offers recommendations for San Diego city and county planners that can increase number of SDC community gardens and thereby offset local food insecurity realities.
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