Who is Howard Graham Buffett and Why Does he Care about Food Security?

If you had the resources to accomplish something great in the world, what would you do?

Legendary investor Warren Buffett posed this challenge to his son in 2006, when he announced he was leaving the bulk of his fortune to philanthropy. Howard G. Buffett set out to help the most vulnerable people on earth – nearly a billion individuals who lack basic food security. And Howard has given himself a deadline: 40 years to put more than $3 billion to work on this challenge.

Each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our goals in life. This is a lesson Howard learned through his passion for farming. All farmers can expect to have about 40 growing seasons, giving them just 40 chances to improve on every harvest. This applies to all of us, however, because we all have about 40 productive years to do the best job we can, whatever our passions or goals may be.

40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World is a new book that captures Howard’s journey. Beginning with his love for farming, we join him around the world as he seeks out new approaches to ease the suffering of so many. It is told in a unique format: 40 stories that will provide readers a compelling look at Howard’s lessons learned, ranging from his own backyard to some of the most difficult and dangerous places on Earth.

Who are the authors of this book?

Howard G. Buffett is the founder and President of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation which strengthens food security for vulnerable populations throughout the world. A farmer, businessman, politician, photographer, and philanthropist, Howard has dedicated his life to wildlife conservation and finding solutions to world hunger. He has traveled to over 120 countries documenting the challenges of preserving our biodiversity while providing adequate resources to meet the needs of a growing global population. Howard is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger, and serves on the corporate boards of Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola Company, and Lindsay Corporation. He operates a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois and oversees three foundation-operated research farms, including 1,400 acres in Arizona, 3,200 acres in Illinois, and 9,200 acres in South Africa.

Howard W. Buffett is the Executive Director of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. He previously served in the U.S. Department of Defense overseeing agriculture-based economic stabilization and redevelopment programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. For his work, he received the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Award – the highest ranking civilian honor presented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Prior to that, Howard was a Policy Advisor for the White House Domestic Policy Council, where he co-authored and directed the President’s cross-sector partnerships strategy. He earned a BA from Northwestern University and an MPA in Advanced Management and Finance from Columbia University. He is from Omaha, Nebraska, where he and his wife operate a 400 acre no-till farm.

What are the Principles of 40 Chances?

1.)   Roots: Dig in. Am I acting with purpose and urgency in my life?

2.)   Bravery: Grow tall. Am I taking smart risks?

3.)   Lessons: Don’t fear mistakes. Am I learning the right lessons from my mistakes?

4.)   Challenges: Be adaptable. Am I improving upon every chance I have?

5.)   Hope: Prepare for tomorrow. Am I making the most of my chances in life?

Planting the seeds for long lasting impact.

40 Chances Programs advocate for the best ideas that seed sustainable, transformational change in accomplishing global food security. These programs will empower our next generation of leaders to develop market-based solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges in the areas of poverty and hunger.

40 Chances Programs

1.)   For High School Students: High school students across the country can compete for awards based on solutions they design to combat local food insecurity.

2.)   For College Students: 40 Chances Program will focus on seeding innovative ideas and plans from college students across the country,

3.)   For Post Graduates: 40 Chances Program will focus on seeding innovative ideas from recent post graduates.

4.)   For Start-Ups: The program will focus on seeding innovative ideas from start-up nonprofit organizations.

Authors of the book

Authors of the book

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FOG BMP… Translates to Sustainabilit-EE

Approaching the start of the second half of my Institutional Foodservice Production and Management rotation, I’m starting to realize how everything I’ve learned so far is coming full circle. Yesterday I was educated, in more detail, about the benefits and logistics of a FOG BMP program in restaurant foodservice managements related to sustainability. The Chief Operating Officer from FOG BMP Rite-Way Compliance Group, LLC was our guest speaker yesterday and educated us on the importance of this program, how it works, how it affects our restaurant businesses, and community as a whole.

FOGis an acronym that stands for Fats, Oils, and Grease which is commonly found in Food Service Establishments (FSE’s).

BMPstands for Best Management Plan. This program is recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and mandated by various cities across the country. It entails a written plan of daily practices for food service employees to follow to solve the problems of fats, oils, and grease that enters the public sanitary sewers.

There are 2 types of grease: yellow grease/rendered grease and brown grease/trap grease.

Yellow Grease

        “Fryer” grease

        Highly Profitable

        High yield profitability from rendering companies

Brown Grease

        Grease from food preparation

        Requires service from “pumping” companies

        Lower yield profitability from rendering companies

So, how does FOG negatively impact your FSE?

        Severe fire risk that can cause loss of property and lives

        FOG entering the drains in your facility causes blockages in the plumbing

        Unnecessary drain cleaning costs

        Increased maintenance cleaning costs of grease interceptors

        Odor issues that drive customers away

        Negative public image

        Brand damage

How does FOG negatively impact the public sewer system?

        FOG is the #1 reason for sewer system overflows

        FOG that is allowed to exit the grease interceptor of your FSE (from poor maintenance procedures/neglect) enters directly into the public sewer system

        $29 billion a year is spent on cleaning up the public sewer systems in the U.S.

Fats, oils, and grease usually enter a food service establishment plumbing system through:

        Pre-rinse sink

        Washing wares in the 3-compartment sink

        Floor cleaning

        Equipment sanitation

There are currently 2 different types of devices that all restaurants have that is designed to separate the fats, oils, grease and solids from wastewater. A grease trap is usually located in smaller food service establishments and positioned inside the kitchen near the 3-compartment sink.  A grease interceptor is located in much larger food service operations and is an exterior in-ground tank.

One concept that really caught my attention of the presentation was composting. Our guest speaker mentioned that other restaurant corporations are utilizing this form of sustainability as well. The restaurants use their food waste, which is food materials that are discarded or unable to use, and saved to put in a food compost container. Then, these composts are donated to local farmers to use for fertilizers on their produce. Then, once the produce is grown, the restaurant buys those products from the local farmers. It really promotes local food economy, utilizing local farmers, and minimizing food miles traveled. I think this is a great and innovative model that every restaurant should adopt!

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Food Insecurity and Sustainability

Last week, international agricultural leaders met in Washington, DC to discuss plans to dispense and develop agriculture data collected in various countries to report global food security and nutrition.

Nutrition security is defined as secure access to an appropriately nutritious diet (ie, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water) coupled with a sanitary environment and adequate health services and care, in order to ensure a healthy and active life for all household members.  Nutrition security requires that all people have access to a variety of nutritious foods and potable drinking water; knowledge, resources, and skills for healthy living; prevention, treatment, and care for diseases affecting nutrition status; and safety-net systems during crisis situations, such as natural disasters or deleterious social and political systems.

Food security is a part of nutrition security and exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability.  Although nutrition security requires food security, the two terms are sometimes merged into the term food and nutrition security to emphasize both food and health requirements.

Two important limitations with current food security measurements are that the term food is generally equated to food energy only, usually from just a few staple foods, failing to measure the wide variety of foods that are needed to provide all the nutrients for an active healthy life; and terms are often used incorrectly and/or interchangeably for hunger (a feeling/scarcity of food), undernourished (lacking nutrients), malnourished (poorly nourished), and food insecurity (lack of foods needed for a healthy life).

The effect of income on nutrition security depends on the local cost of living and social and political systems providing access to land, food, water, housing, health care, and education. Dramatic increases in international food prices have the greatest impact on low-income, food-deficit countries. The recent financial, energy, and food crises have negatively affected poor consumers through soaring food prices; reduced household income; and reduced health and social assistance. Lack of dietary diversification aggravates the problem. The cause of the food price crisis is not necessarily an underlying shortage in global supply, but a combination of high energy prices, pockets of agricultural failure, the financial crisis, and national policy errors resulting in a general price panic. In some countries, there are also increasing demands on the food supply for feeding livestock and making biofuels. Nations are at a higher risk for volatile food prices if their nutrition security is dependent on global financial systems and oil, such as for producing agrochemicals, operating machinery for harvesting, processing, and transportation.

Globally, approximately 30% of children under 5 years old are stunted and 18% are underweight. As growth slows down, brain development also lags behind and, as a result, stunted children are more likely to learn poorly. The global prevalence of underweight and stunting in children under age 5 years is decreasing, but prevalence is still unacceptably high in some regions. Approximately 15% of children are born underweight; however, almost 60% of newborns in developing countries are not weighed at birth.  Access to caloric intake in developing nations has increased during the past 40 years. In 1969-1971, 33% of the population had inadequate access as compared with the current estimation of 16% in 2010.

Micronutrient deficiencies affect more people (36%) than caloric deficiencies (12%), emphasizing the importance of addressing the quality of food in agricultural systems. Micronutrient deficiencies result in fatigue, lethargy, reduced learning ability, brain damage, reduced immunity, miscarriages and other pregnancy complications, blindness, and goiter, and raise the risk for mortality, especially from diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and measles.

The following five micronutrient deficiencies are of particular concern: iron deficiency, folate deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, zinc deficiency, and iodine deficiency disorder. It is estimated that >1 million children’s deaths worldwide could be prevented with adequate vitamin A and zinc and an additional 24,500 deaths prevented with adequate iron and iodine. Adequate micronutrient status improves health and intellectual abilities and the evidence for addressing deficiencies is compelling, cost effective, and achievable.

Sustainability creates and maintains conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony and fulfills the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations. During the last 50 years, the physical and functional availability of natural resources has shrunk faster than at any other time in history due to increased demand and/or degradation of biodiversity, soil, forests, water, and air. This has been compounded by a range of factors, including human population growth, changes in lifestyles, and diets that use more land, water, and energy resources. It is imperative to encourage environmentally responsible practices that conserve natural resources, minimize# the quantity of waste generated, and support ecological sustainability of the food system.6 Individuals can make the biggest single contribution to the environment by shifting to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Agriculture contributes to the livelihood of 40% of the world’s population with 90% of farmers owning <5 acres. Agriculture is multifunctional because it produces or contributes to food, medicines, nonfood items, ecological services, livelihoods, social stability, culture, and tradition. The combination of community-based innovations, local knowledge, and science-based approaches maximize output and sustainability of food and water resources.

Local food systems, local consumption, and domestic outlets for farmers’ products can alleviate the risks inherent in international trade. Investment in local infrastructure, marketing systems, extension and communication services, education, as well as research and development, can increase food supply and improve the functioning of local agricultural markets, resulting in less volatile prices

Micronutrient deficiency prevention and control strategies include:

        Increased food diversity with improved dietary quality, bioavailability, and quantity;

        Disease control;

        Improved knowledge and education on prevention and control for policy makers and the general public;

        Supplementation to high-risk groups; and

        Where deficiencies are high, fortification technologies, such as biofortification, open market fortification of processed food, and targeted fortification

Schools that integrate health and nutrition into their classrooms and communities can become centers of excellence and hubs of knowledge and practice beyond the school-aged child. School meal programs provide complete or supplemental meals to promote nutrition, school participation, and learning potential. Gardens in schools can spread to communities and increase awareness of the importance of good nutrition and dietary diversity. Integrating health and nutrition education into lessons, meals, and gardening activities promotes healthy habits such as dietary diversity, food and water safety, food processing, nutrient preservation, sanitation, and hygiene.

Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (registered dietitians; dietetic technicians, registered; and other health practitioners) have an important role in achieving global nutrition security whether working domestically or internationally. The tips that follow show how to become involved in promoting global nutrition security:

        Increase awareness of how current world events relate to malnutrition.

o   Promote awareness of global nutrition security issues.

o   Learn about, respect, and understand diverse customs and cultures.

o   Write articles addressing global nutrition security for your local newspapers, state Academy association, political leaders, and nutrition or health promotion newsletters.

o   Encourage support for global and domestic outreach efforts promoting nutrition security.

o   Become actively involved to ensure nutrition security programs support sustainable development.

o   Establish a class on global nutrition security issues.

        Network by joining a professional internationally focused interest group.

o   Join organizations such as: The Overseas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy; the American Society of Nutrition’s International Nutrition Council; the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s International Special Interest Group; the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s International Nutrition Education Division or the American Public Health Association’s International Health Section.

o   Attend national and international professional meetings that have a strong agenda addressing global nutrition security.

o   Become familiar with international food assistance and education programs such as Oxfam America, Heifer International, or Bread for the World.

        Volunteer in local, national, or international humanitarian assistance efforts and medical missions.

        Take a class in global nutrition.

o   Learn more about the ramifications of domestic policy decisions on world food security (eg, trade, food regulations, import and export tariffs, and foreign aid).

o   Learn about the policies, programs, and issues related to nutrition security.

        As the nutrition experts, registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, can provide continuing education seminars to other nutrition and medical professionals.

        Become more “green” as you make personal choices. Personal and national decisions affect our immediate environment and also people and environments in other parts of the world.

o   Teach others how changes in their eating and purchasing practices can reduce consumption of the world’s nonrenewable resources.

o   Support sustainable food and water efforts locally and internationally (eg, gardening, water filtering, well construction, fish ponds, and reforestation).

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Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition Security in Developing Nations: Sustainable Food, Water, and Health