About 13.1 million kids in America are living in homes with insufficient food, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Seniors and peoples with disabilities are also suffering from hunger in America, an often-overlooked problem.
Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio recently sat down with Rachel Martin of NPR’s Morning Edition to talk about hunger and ways to solve the problem.
On the topic of more farmers getting into school lunch programs, Colicchio says there has been a trend over the last three decades to move away from “scratch cooking to mass-produced food that’s thrown into a steamer.”
Colicchio is calling for more schools to move toward scratch cooking to provide children with more nutritious meals. He says making meals more nutritious in general is necessary.
The chef said he met with Senator Bennet in Colorado, where schools have moved back to scratch cooking. Colicchio says the schools use more local produce, and local farmers benefit from the move.
“We produce a lot of calories in this country – calories are cheap, but nutrition is expensive,” he told Morning Edition.
The celebrity chef says it’s important to make sure children get the nutrition they need to reach their potential in life.
Colicchio highlighted the fact that America spends “$200 billion a year on health care issues that are food related, like diabetes and heart disease.” About a quarter of the kids who join the military are sent home because they’re not fit to fight, he says, which can affect national security in the long run.
Food is produced in a way that negatively impacts the environment, he said, which can be changed with changes to farming practices.
When it comes to hunger, Colicchio says it’s not that there’s not enough food in America or because of a drought. He says the problem is Americans do not have “the political will to make sure that every single person is fed.”
“We can end hunger in this country,” he said.