by Jeffrey Zurofsky
Last week marked the end to a 16-day shutdown of the United States government. Federal agencies are now operating again after thousands of employees, deemed "nonessential" by Congress, were sent home without pay. While the turmoil of recent weeks has passed for the time being, the fact remains that some of these "nonessential" employees include those that provide vital services that safeguard our public health, national food economy, and keep at-risk citizens out of hunger. Facing the suspension of these services, the American public felt less safe about its food, farmers experienced greater economic anxiety, and furloughed employees faced an inability to reliably obtain something to eat. Together these issues underscore the fact that our existing food system, in which the majority of Americans have and expect dependable access to healthy food, can be easily disrupted by political insensibility. We must get our priorities straight and stabilize our food system in order to ensure that in the future we do not suffer the same consequences.
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