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April 13, 2015

Agrarian Sojourn to India & Sri Lanka

I was blessed with an eight-week extended study leave spanning from January 19, when I pointed myself in the direction of India, until March 17, when I landed back in about-to-bloom Louisville. Part of the eight weeks in India and Sri Lanka was meeting Presbyterian Hunger Program Joining Hands partners and learning about their efforts to strengthen their food sovereignty.  Part was immersing myself in this ancient/modern, spiritual/material land to learn from the people how they navigate and stay healthy in a rapidly changing world, and to rejuvenate myself as I celebrate 16 years of service to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

This page is designed to help you virtually travel with me. You will find my crazy route, photo galleries, videos and reports. All are found on this Interactive Map and they are also listed below. Click on this link or the map to open it in another window.

Interactive map

1)  You can download my report on Joining Hands and other agrarian/hunger-related visits and meetings.

2)  The same for my travel journal and facebook posts with photos.

3)  Here are Galleries of photos taken with my trusty Canon t2ii:

Joining Hands  http://bit.ly/india-joininghandsyoung woman in Fort Kochi

Agrarian Photos  http://bit.ly/india-agrarian

Animals & Plants  http://bit.ly/india-animals

People  http://bit.ly/india-people

Auroville  http://bit.ly/india-auroville

Passageways & Arches  http://bit.ly/india-arching

Scenery  http://bit.ly/india-scene 

4) These are the first four short videos; more to come...

 The first 3 videos are from my visit with Food Sovereignty Alliance in Telangana, India. I spent a couple days with the Alliance and member groups to learn about their approaches to take back food sovereignty by protecting their land, saving indigenous seeds, and developing their food and farm system in collaboration with other groups and peoples in the region. The Alliance is a coalition of Dalit, Adivasi and farmer associations as well as 'co-producer' consumer advocates. We spent a day in Medak at their farm & community center with Alliance leadership to plan a Food Sovereignty Summit in late February 2015.

1)   Dalit Woman's Message to Monsanto  (1:14 min.)    Pochamma is a Dalit woman from Sikanlapur village in Telangana, India. She is a leader in the Dalit Mahila Association and was eager to have her voice heard. She speaks of the need to protect their native seed varieties for food cultivation, the problems with BT (genetically modified) Cotton, and has a clear message for Monsanto.

2)   Tribal Farmer Shiva's Message to Monsanto  (45 seconds)    Madavashiva "Shiva" Prasad is an Adivasi farmer from northern Telangana (the correct spelling) state in India. His group does theater as a form of grassroots popular education about the things threatening their people's way of life farming and herding.

3)   Dalit Farmer Explains Why No Food From Walmart  (1:14 min.)    Nasumu, a Dalit farmer from Telangana, India, explains how the food they grow themselves is healthier, and provides both food for their families and fodder for their animals. He is adamant about not wanting Walmart food. Walmart is beginning to make inroads into the Indian food system at this point not with retail stores but as part of the supply chain.

4)  Children's Names in Nalweda Village in Rajasthan  (47 seconds)     Presbyterian Hunger Program visited the villages north of Udaipur, Rajasthan with farmer Pannalal. The women in this village -- this farmer Lakshmi, is one of the first pioneers -- are transitioning from chemical farming to organic, and are creating a cooperative company to market their organic wheat and vegetables together. This is just a short video of the children telling their names to the foreigner with the camera who has dropped into their village from far away.

Categories: Agriculture, Food Justice, Hunger, India

Tags: adivasi, agroecology, dalit, fodder, food, food sovereignty, food sovereignty alliance, hunger, india, joining hands, monsanto, organic, poverty, presbyterian hunger program, sri lanka, sustainable, tribal, walmart


January 13, 2015

Training a new generation of farmers

The ripple effect of contributions to the Hunger Program, mostly through One Great Hour of Sharing, creates waves of support for organizations like World Hunger Relief, which trains young people like Kaley and Ester, and many more. World Hunger Relief, based on their farm in Waco, Texas, also achieves the difficult task of making connections between local hunger and global hunger. Here are the profiles of two of their interns from their website. We are proud to be a partner!

 

Intern Profile | Kaley Necessary

Food Systems Intern & Garden Club Coordinator

Kaley comes to us from Indiana Wesleyan University, where she graduated in the spring of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Pre-Medicine. She also received a minor in International Community Development. Passionate about public health, Kaley became an intern with the Uganda Village Project. She was in Iganga, Uganda for 3 months where she worked as a public health educator conducting weekly education sessions on malaria, sexually transmitted infections, intestinal parasite prevention, family planning methods, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and safe water. Her “desire to see people take ownership of their health and well being” grew stronger while in Uganda.

Kaley has strong passions for development and agriculture. In Uganda, she realized her desire to address public health issues through the gateway of agriculture. After her time at World Hunger Relief, Kaley will continue to pursue knowledge of development and agriculture to prepare herself to serve in a developing country. She also hopes to apply her training in a community somewhere in the United States to help develop local food systems.

 

Intern Profile | Esther Honegger

Livestock Intern

Coming from Lake Zurich, IL, Esther graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with a minor in Chemistry. Throughout college, Esther was involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Pre-Veterinary Club at her school. She was also able to intern at the Champaign County Humane Society, where she monitored the medical and behavioral statuses of the resident animals.

During her participation in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Esther had the privilege to attend a 3-week mission trip to Malawi, Africa, where she served at an orphanage. She was able to teach the children about basic animal biology and directed her teammates in helping her with daily activities.

Esther is using her time at WHRI to learn practical skills in animal agriculture so that she can serve people in a more comprehensive way. She plans to use this knowledge and the knowledge from her studies “to benefit the people of developing nations who don’t have the opportunities to learn about animal biology and health in the depth that I have.”

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December 30, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink

As someone who is passionate about sustainable food, urban farming, nutrition, and many of the various aspects of the food justice work I sometimes find the amount of organizations and resources in the field to be overwhelming; mostly in a good way as the food system we currently have could be much improved. However, on occasion I'm overwhelmed in a negative way.

 

I've been looking for a job in the field for 6+ months now- depending on what your opinion of really looking is- and I've applied to quite a few jobs. I have yet to be ...

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November 25, 2014

There is Chicken Blood on my Pants (and No, I'm not a Witch).

It is quite humbling to catch a chicken, hold her, pet her, attempt to calm her, pass her off to Steve, and look her in the eye as the hatchet comes down. Then after plucking feathers, and knifing away the vitals, I carry it on ice to my freezer. I did that today.  I caught a bird that has lived at Ferncliff much longer than I have, and helped end her life.

 

This article is about killing chicken.  I thought you should know that here before you decide to keep reading or not.

 

There was a bright vivacious red color blood.  There were feathers--lots of them. There was a small child calling at his father, "please don't kill it Dad."  There was slimy smelly guts. There was skin. There were feathers we missed. There was yellow fat.  It smelled like a dead animal, it did a lot of twitching.  It bled on me. It's smell lingers in my arm hairs hours later.

 

Read more...

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November 17, 2014

Homelessness: A "Both, And" Issue

[Thanks to Gina Tonn for this important piece during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. From the ELCA's World Hunger Blog]

 

This week is national "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week."  The recent arrests of several activists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, over public outdoor meals served to people experiencing homelessness has brought homelessness to the fore of media coverage in recent weeks.  This year, Fort Lauderdale passed a series of restrictions aimed at moving feeding sites indoors.  These include requirements that all feeding sites have toilet facilities and that any feeding sites be located at least 500 feet away from each other.  These new regulations were passed in response to residents' complaints about crowds of homeless people in public parks.  The Fort Lauderdale's Women's Club was a particularly vocal supporter of the restrictions, telling Mayor Jack Seiler that the use of one park as a site for feeding people in need made it problematic for them to hold weddings and yoga classes.

Fort Lauderdale is not alone in criminalizing the public provision of food to people facing hunger.  In the spirit of raising "awareness" during "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week," I want to share with you some information about where restrictions on serving meals have been implemented and what the restrictions are.

The passage of laws making it more difficult, or even impossible, to serve public meals to people was first brought to my attention when my colleague shared this article from National Public Radio with me. My interest was further piqued and motivation to put together this blog post heightened when, a few days later, the sidebar of my Facebook timeline informed me that the arrests in Fort Lauderdale were "trending."

A report cited in the NPR article mentioned above, compiled by the National Coalition for the Homeless and just released in October called "Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People in Need" provides an overview of laws enacted  during 2013-2014 throughout the United States. These laws are categorized in several ways: restrictions on public property use, food safety regulations and community actions to relocate food-sharing events. The report also notes cities that repealed laws of these sorts during the last year, and places that attempted to pass laws but failed. I invite you to read the report for yourself in order to gain a full understanding of the regulations at hand and investigate whether your community imposed or repealed any restrictions.

Looking ahead, homelessness promises to be an issue that continues to demand the attention of federal, state and local governments, as well as non-profit and social ministry organizations. Just last week, Community Solutions, a national organization whose tagline indicates their mission toward "strengthening communities" and "ending homelessness" announced a new campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness in the next two years. The campaign, called "Zero: 2016" will launch in January 2015 in 67 communities across the country. Many of these communities, listed in the press release, overlap with the communities imposing restrictions on meal programs. The "Zero: 2016" campaign is an attempt to accelerate housing efforts, connect people experiencing homelessness with available housing options and create public accountability around the issue of chronic homelessness.

ELCA World Hunger is a comprehensive approach to recognizing and fighting the root causes of poverty and hunger in our communities near and far. One takeaway from my time with the ELCA World Hunger team so far is that we are each a piece of a puzzle and all of the pieces are needed in order to make a dent in hunger and poverty. Yes, we need to change societal structure to eliminate homelessness through more accessible job programs, education and supportive housing, and more robust welfare programs. This is, in fact, the stated goal of many laws against feeding people who are homeless.  Meals, some argue, create dependency and do little to help people gain access to long-term financial independence.

But we also need to support people who are suffering now. I believe we are called to be advocates of both serving meals to those who are hungry and finding ways to prevent hunger and homelessness moving forward. People who are hungry have a need for food, yet laws such as these are also borne out of need, such as residents' safety. What does it say about who is part of a community when some neighbors are treated as threats to safety or decorum? How are we called to balance different needs within a community?

 
Gina Tonn is a Program Assistant for ELCA World Hunger through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

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