“I’ve been everywhere looking for work, but no one will hire me,” said Petty, who’s been living with her sister because she can’t afford a place of her own. “And I don’t qualify for food stamps or anything else either.” But lately, thanks to a local ministry, Petty has some food in her pantry and in her belly, too. In August, Our Father’s House of Refuge began a regular free community food giveaway, distributing upward of more than 45,000 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables and nonperishable food via the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to needy residents in and around Eustis. “I’m so grateful for it,” Perry said. “There are a lot of people like me that are caught in the middle.” Pictures: Child stars then and now Last month, the ministry distributed food at Family Bible Church on East Orange Avenue. An October date couldn’t be worked out, but another giveaway is planned for November, said ministry founder Pete Custodio, who also operates a Food Bank Wednesdays event at the rear of Tip Tops screen printing at 100 S. Bay St. Custodio also runs a transition house for the homeless at 504 E. Orange Ave, where he also leads a 7 p.m. worship service and potluck dinner each Sunday. Plenty of need With each passing week and month, said Custodio, who founded the faith-based nonprofit three years ago, the lines get longer and the faces get less familiar. But Petty and others are just the kind of folks the New York City native was hoping to reach those who don’t get public assistance or little, if they do and are either unemployed or living paycheck to paycheck. “I see different faces each time now,” said Custodio, 43. “We help 90 to 100 people on Wednesday and our last monthly food distribution had nearly 300 people turn out.” Diabetic Josephine Brinkley said she receives just $79 a month in food stamps, which barely pays for basic staples such as milk and bread, let alone meat and vegetables. “The free food helps me fill in the gap,” said Brinkley, who also visits the food bank each Wednesday.
FAO is forecasting an 8 percent increase in world cereal production this year. Higher production allows for rebuilding of stocks, which had fallen to historically low levels. An expected 13 percent increase in world cereal closing stocks should drive up the global stock-to-use ratio to 23.3 percent, the highest since 2003. If the expected increases in stock-to-use ratios are confirmed, then the markets will have greater resilience to any shocks and price volatility should be restrained It is also important to recognize the role of global governance in this positive development, by increasing transparency, market information and helping control factors that had led to price spikes before. The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) played an important role in making this happen. Set up by the G20 in 2011 with a multi-agency secretariat hosted by FAO, AMIS provided timely and reliable information, increasing transparency in the international food market and assuring better coordination between the main players to reduce market instability and unilateral action. The United Nations System also granted the issue high priority. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security repeatedly and energetically called for calm and coordination, contributing to contain price increases. The reformed Committee on World Food Security — that will session starting Monday October 7 — has proven its value as the most inclusive forum to discuss food security and, in a landmark achievement, endorsed last year the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security . Among many other initiatives, last October FAO hosted a ministerial summit to discuss food prices, co-organized with the Government of France who played a leading role in establishing AMIS. In 2007-8, increased use of maize for biofuel production was pressuring food prices, excessive speculation on futures markets accentuated price volatility and panic buying and export restrictions led to prices spinning out of control.