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Re: What is the role of social relations and networks in household food security and nutrition?

George Kent Department of Political Science, University of Hawai'i, United States of ...

Greetings –

I would like to express my deep gratitude to Eileen Omosa for opening this discussion of the role of social relations in establishing food security. I think the quality of the community in which individuals and families are embedded can have a big impact on food security, especially for people with low incomes.

Historically, there was a long period when cash income was of little importance. People lived close to the earth, and close to their communities. As Karl Polanyi pointed out, in what we sometimes describe as “primitive” communities, no one went hungry unless everyone was going hungry. That pattern continues today, in what some describe as “pre-modern” communities.

In recent work on this issue (current draft available at and also attached here) I highlight the importance of caring and social support systems not only in reducing hunger where it exists, but also in preventing it from ever happening. My observations are summarized in three major points:

  • Hunger is less likely to occur where people care about one another’s well being.
  • Caring behavior is strengthened when people work and play together in pursuing values they share.
  • Therefore, hunger in any community is likely to be reduced by encouraging its people to work and play together, especially in food-related activities.

There is little likelihood that the hunger problem can be solved through market activities based on narrow self-interest. Caring is essential. It must be recognized and nurtured.

Aloha, George Kent

See the attachment:EndingHungerLocally.docx