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Food Briefs

A Significant Step Toward an Ambitious Goal in 'Ending Hunger'

January 02, 1986|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

The concerted effort of international relief agencies and rock musicians combined with vivid television footage during 1985 to make the public aware of the world's continuing problem with starvation.

Yet, a comprehensive blueprint for effectively channeling all these good intentions and accompanying donations to the areas of the globe suffering from food shortages remains elusive.

A recently published book on the subject is now being heralded as a significant step in providing a master plan to alleviate this suffering. The effort, "Ending Hunger" (Praeger Publishers: $19.95), is the culmination of five years of research by Joan Holmes, executive director of the New York-based Hunger Project.

The book's thesis is ambitious: "The end of hunger and starvation on our planet by the end of the century."

This 14-year plan is detailed in an impressively photographed and designed publication that details the origins of famine along with the extenuating political, environmental and social circumstances which make this such an unrelenting problem. The book also asks various world leaders for their perspectives on the issue.

Some of the more enlightening passages provide case histories of how several nations, such as the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Sri Lanka, successfully solved their pressing problems with starvation. The book urges that one of these text-book cases, or a variation of such, be used in areas where food is still in short supply.

Taking a decidedly positive tone, the author writes: ". . . for the first time in history the world now possesses the agricultural, technological and financial resources to eradicate the persistence of hunger forever."

"Ending Hunger" is available by writing to the Hunger Project Book, P.O. Box 2000, Sparks, Nev. 89432-2000.

Increase in Banking--On the domestic front, a grocers trade organization reports that about half of the nation's supermarkets are donating food or services to local food banks which help feed the needy.

The Food Marketing Institute recently surveyed more than 483 grocery companies and found that 47.7% are assisting hunger relief efforts with some form of contribution. The percentage has increased by 100% since 1982, according to the food retailing group.

The involvement with food banks goes beyond contributions of groceries. Fifty-five percent of those stores involved with hunger efforts are donating services such as transportation, storage space and technical assistance. There are also a number of supermarket firms which promote in-store food donations by their customers.

About half of those supermarket operators who are not currently assisting food banks are apparently donating to other charities, the survey reports. Other reasons given for not participating in local hunger efforts include responses such as the stores did "not (have) enough product," "(did) not know food banks exist," "not enough staff," and concerns about insurance liability.

Indirect Cocktail Costs--Those cautious food store operators that shy away from donating food to charities because of concern about being sued by a recipient of a free item may well be the envy of restaurant and bar operators throughout the country.

Those outlets which serve alcoholic spirits, wine or beer have had the unpleasant experience of discovering that their liquor liability insurance has increased about 110% in the past 12 months, according to a Gallup survey commissioned by the National Restaurant Assn.

Restaurants and cocktail-lounge owners have been induced into carrying insurance as protection against legal suits stemming from patrons who cause damage and injury to themselves or others after drinking at an establishment.

The poll of more than 300 owners or managers found that the average premium paid for this insurance was $39,555 annually. The survey also found that 69% of those queried reported premium hikes during the past year.

Although only 8% of all those questioned about liquor liability have ever been the target of a personal-injury suit, this type of legal action is up significantly nationwide. The association found that lawsuits of this type against physicians, manufacturers and day-care centers, in addition to restaurants, are up 50% from 1979.

The restaurant association was highly critical of the sharp increases and projected that the steep costs of premiums will be quickly passed along to consumers.

Attention to Detail--Tidbits of information continue to surface from the Geneva summit meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

Belated news of one development arrived recently in the form of an elaborate announcement from Iron Horse Vineyards. The winery's greeting card featured the President clinking glasses with Gorbachev during the dinner hosted by the Reagans in Geneva last November. Inside the crystal flutes of the two world leaders was Iron Horse Sparkling Wine.

This particular Champagne was chosen by the White House staff for more than just its fine effervescence and balance. In a symbolic gesture of friendship, Iron Horse was poured during the dinner because the winery is in the vicinity of Northern California's Russian River.

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