Could Co-Ops Create Food Security, Prevent Global Hunger?

In light of food insecurity around the world, international co-op president urges G-8 to adopt co-ops

Could food co-ops save the planet from going hungry? That's what the International Cooperative Alliance president is urging the G-8 to consider today, as nearly 1 billion people around the world face hunger and food insecurity.

Tomorrow, Dame Pauline Green will present her initiatives to Washington policymakers in the hopes that the G-8 will adopt a co-op business model to solve world hunger. Already, the idea is gaining speed — the U.N. claimed 2012 as the "international year of cooperatives," showing that it could very well work. Globally, there are more than 1 billion co-op members; the top 300 co-ops total at $1.6 trillion.

"Food security is an aspect of sustainable development that leads to greater national security," Green said in a press release. "Cooperatives are values-based businesses that offer a sustainable solution to many of the world’s most pressing needs, from food security to gender equality... The G-8 also must recognize the contribution cooperatives can make to addressing social and economic issues."

Food insecurity has become a problem on the forefront of policymakers' minds. While climate change has been shown to affect crop growth, rising food prices and food shortages have begun to affect not just low-income countries. Recently, Feeding America released a new interactive report, "Map the Meal Gap," that detailed food-insecure U.S. counties, which showed that every county in the U.S. had some degree of food-insecure residents. The county with the highest food insecurity — where 37 percent of residents have trouble eating — is Holmes, Miss. New research even goes beyond to show how food insecurity can harm the hungry — mainly, when a mother has trouble putting food on the table, children don't know how to control their eating.