Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I spent last week in a confused, yet happy, yet exhausted state. I was all sorts of emotions at all times. Presbyterians know this week as General Assembly- and it's a force to be reckoned with.
Thanks to my roommate’s luck with winning tickets, we attended a great film series event the other night showing the documentary, Eating Alabama. The premise around the film was to capture all the trials and tribulations that the filmmaker and his wife had while trying to eating only food found in their home state of Alabama for one year. This concept is nothing new to the food movement in fact people have been doing it for a while now, take Barbara Kingsolver and her record in, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” However something in particular moved me that night. Granted it ...
Four full-time national service participants, Arianna King, Jonathan Krigger, Laura Stricklen, and Rachel Brunner started work this week for the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PCUSA) as part of a nationwide program to fight hunger, the National Anti-Hunger and Empowerment Corps.
Their service began on February 13 after top federal and local officials joined with nonprofit groups in Boston to swear-in the 31 members of the new national team, an AmeriCorps VISTA project which will help nonprofit organizations in 18 states, at nearly 30 sites, fight hunger, increase the amount of healthy, locally-grown food, and help to empower more low-income individuals and families to achieve long-term financial security.
For the next eleven months, Brunner, King, Krigger and Stricklen will assist congregations and organizations in Louisville and around the country more effectively connect low-income individuals and communities to government nutrition programs, such as SNAP and WIC, and to healthy, locally sourced foods.
The program is being led by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) and is funded by the USDA and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) with additional support from non-governmental sources. This unique public-private partnership is aimed at reducing the hunger and food insecurity faced by 50 million Americans.
“In this nation of plenty, it is unacceptable that millions of children still go to bed not knowing if there will be food for their next meal,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds AmeriCorps and a senior member of the subcommittee that funds the USDA. “The Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps is a win-win - it will play an important role in the fight against hunger, while helping young people build leadership skills and pay off school debt.”
“Increasing access to nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable populations is a top priority of the Obama Administration,” said USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Concannon. “We are committed to working with our partners at the federal, state and local level, as together we help millions of families in need.”
“For more than 46 years, VISTA has been in communities working to improve the lives of millions of the most vulnerable Americans,” said Paul Davis, Acting Director of AmeriCorps VISTA. “This cross-agency collaboration with USDA will prove instrumental in helping individuals and families get on the path to economic stability and build stronger communities.”
“We are excited to host Arianna, Jonathan, Laura and Rachel, who will be working with congregations and communities to strengthen their witness of Christ in the world,” says Presbyterian Hunger Program staffer, Andrew Kang Bartlett. “Over decades, the Presbyterian Church USA has carried out ministries of compassion, helping to alleviate hunger, as well as ministries of justice to help Presbyterians understand and address the root causes of hunger. The VISTA workers extend the work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program to help build the capacity of local churches and groups to create healthy, just food systems in the U.S.”
“The AmeriCorps VISTA program is a perfect tool to fight hunger and improve nutrition,” said NYCCAH’s Joel Berg. “We are grateful that this new public-private partnership will cost-effectively aid the ability of grassroots nonprofit groups in 18 states to increase their capacity to enable eligible families to access the federal nutrition assistance benefits that they need to avoid hunger and improve their diets. We are extraordinarily grateful to the Obama Administration and to local officials around the country for this tremendous federal and local support.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) taps the skills, talents, and passion of more than 7,000 Americans annually to support community efforts to overcome poverty. AmeriCorps VISTA members are assigned full-time for one year at nonprofit community organizations with the goal of building the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of programs that provide low-income Americans with the skills and resources needed to break the cycle of poverty.
"Under current law, if one big corporation farmed the entire country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would pay 60 percent of its insurance premiums on every acre."
Sounds crazy, right? Yet this is reality and illustrates the way our food and farm policies give a hand up to the largest farms, while small-scale family farmers are largely neglected. The article below (excerpted) from our partner, Center for Rural Affairs, points to the kinds of changes needed in the 2012 Farm Bill (yes, it should be called the Food and Farm Bill). Read what is important to our neighbors in rural areas of the country.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program has provided more than $100 million in financial support to effective groups in the U.S. and overseas since it was established in 1969. The five below are just a few of these initiatives, which are alleviating and striving to address the underlying causes of hunger.
Arise members speak out on income tax threshold
In response to a new report citing Alabama's high income tax on the poor, a Huntsville TV station turned to Arise members for comment. Dale Clem, pastor of Monte Sano United Methodist Church and an ACPP board member, and Dick Hiatt, executive director of the North Alabama Food Bank, an ACPP member group, voice their concerns about Alabama's upside-down tax system in this news clip. View news video here. Read ARISE news release here.
Alabama Arise is helping low-income families build a future with individual development accounts (IDAs). Under guidelines set forth by federal Assets for Independence Act of 1998, participants can get a “double match” for up to $2000 they save in an IDA. For $2000 put into the IDA they can get $6000 for a downpayment on a home, college education or starting a small business. What a great way to help others help themselves out of poverty. Alabama Arise motto says it all “A hand UP, not a hand out”.
Boston Faith and Justice Network
Fair Trade Boston was designed to connect church teams, businesses and student groups to broader community engagement of Fair Trade. They hold events for Christians to raise consciousness about how these issues relate to their faith such as film screenings, a national webinar on fair trade and faith, and a bike ride and a benefit concert for a local safe house for survivors of human trafficking. They provide information to Boston-area residents so they are able to understand the ways workers are abused and how fair trade can address this.
The picture to the right is from BFJN director's recent trip to India. Read Ryan's India blog posts on their website.
Corporate Accountability International
Corporate Accountability International is “Thinking Outside the Bottle.” They have convinced schools, businesses, mayors and governors to support and create Bottled Water Free Zones. We definitely need to come together and get various corporations to stop draining watersheds and aquifers for profits. We can work together and all be “Bottle Free”!
PHP has supported CAI's water campaign in past years and is now supporting their work to combat unhealthy food advertising. Read about their campaigns.
First Presbyterian Church St Joseph
First Presbyterian Church St. Joseph will celebrate its 27th anniversary in June of 2012. The church provides sack lunches every Sunday with the help of many volunteers. While folks are there to pick up their food, nurses give flu and hepatitis shots, AIDS screenings and other health services. There is a “Health Express” mobile clinic that parks in front of Open Door Food Kitchen twice a month to offer blood pressure checks, diabetes sugar level sticks, hygiene kits and referral services. They also have Para Medic and a nurse practitioner on board.
And check out their Food for Kids program as well.
Idaho Community Action Network
Due to so many Americans struggling in todays time ICAN got together and came to legislature to increase Food Stamp Asset test from $2,000 to $5,000. This bill is now a law! They are also trying to reverse Medicaid cuts after $35 million was cut from the state budget. Started in 1999, ICAN has over 2,000 members statewide and they educate and mobilize people to advocate on issues of social, racial, and economic justice and to eliminate poverty in Idaho. Learn about their great food justice programs and read their new report:
Families or Corporations?
SUPER COMMITTEE CHOICE: NEED VERSUS GREED
New Report Shows Staggering Hunger and Food Insecurity Nationwide While Federal Funds Feed “Big Ag” Profits.
All this great work is made possible by the generous gifts of Presbyterians to the One Great Hour of Sharing. Thank you!
Here is the scoop, including why you might apply (or send this to a young adult that you love!)
Anathoth Community Garden is a church ministry positioned in the hub of the South’s “local, organic movement” and in proximity to Duke Divinity School. This nature and location provide apprentices with the unique opportunity to learn the fundamentals of regenerative agriculture and its place within the framework of Christian reconciliation and community development--not only in the garden and surrounding community, but also from leading practitioners and scholars! The program is designed as a curriculum-based, immersion experience for 3-4 college-age or older Christians interested in developing the horticultural and theological proficiency to lead related initiatives in their own communities.
What to expect?
Our goal is to shower each apprentice with the encouragement and appropriate resources they need to grow and better minister to the communities of which they are a part. In return, our hope is that the apprentices would help us do the work to sustain this ministry by working in the garden, loving our neighbors and helping us imagine how we might better minister to Northern Orange County.
Download more details and the application forms
Please email further questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Chas Edens at (336) 408-0968.
"I had grown two things, a cup of grass seed in kindergarten and kohlrabi in third grade, before I moved to Florida to join Nathan Ballentine with his business of helping people grow their own food and share it," says Lindsay Popper, a graduate of Warren Wilson College along with Nathan who is building relationships and building gardens all over Tallahassee!
Nathan is one of the Presbyterian Hunger Program's 16 Food Justice Fellows. While most the Food Justice Fellows are digging in the dirt, I'm guessing Nathan's hands are stained brown.
Nathan has been food gardening since eight when his mother set him on a garden as a homeschooling project. He grew up in the PC(USA) and has been accused of being a "Presby-geek." Currently, Nathan runs Tallahassee Food Gardens, his own business and social enterprise established "to encourage and assist folks to raise food for self and neighbor." They earn income by means of raised bed installs, planting fruit trees, and just recently, an affluent neighborhood has hired Nathan to facilitate their community garden development. Having studied community organizing at Warren Wilson College, he spends 1-3 days a week supporting community gardens in neighborhoods, at food pantries, churches, and schools.
Read Lindsay's story about Nathan and what's growing in Tallahassee -- "Academics, work and service: Blurring the Lines"
When Adam is placed in the garden of Eden he is placed in relationship to the fertile soil for which he is named: he is to “till it and keep it,” if you read the NRSV, or to “work it and take care of it,” in the NIV, “work the ground and keep it in order” if you’re partial to Eugene Peterson’s Message, or “tend and watch over it” if you read the New Living Translation. What on earth is he doing? Two Hebrew verbs. One is abad, to “serve,” most literally, as a servant serves a master, or to “worship,” as a person does to God. It does have the rarer meaning of “to work” without an indication of for whom you work – but usually it indicates a service rendered by an inferior for a superior. My California soul is deeply delighted at the notion of our first ancestor “worshipping” the soil. And I’m also thrilled to see that there was a positive paradigm for a human’s labor rendered to the soil, before the fall and expulsion from Eden whereupon we are told “in toil you shall eat of [the fruit of the land] all the days of your life. Two is shamar, to “watch,” most literally, to observe with one’s eyes, OR as a watchman watches over a castle, to keep, protect, or preserve. I respect and appreciate the idea of protecting and preserving the land, but there’s also the aspect of watching it that takes a learner’s eye – to learn what the land can do, what it needs, how it will react to rain and sun and tilling and any other interaction it may have. Ellen Davis comes up with four words: when it comes to the land, Adam is to “work it and serve it, observe it and preserve it.” We must fall to our knees, learn from it, respect its limitations, appreciate its art, marvel at its wonders, protect them from harm. This is our call. (Scripture, Culture, Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. p. 30)
"...powerful lobby groups were able to delay decisions, sometimes for many years, and "water down" proposed improvements. Their job was made easier because the FAO works by consensus, so persuading as few as two or three national governments to oppose an idea was enough to block it. Then this direct quote -- "I have now been 20 years in a multilateral organisation which tries to develop guidance and codes for good agricultural practice, but the real, true issues are not being addressed by the political process because of the influence of lobbyists, of the true powerful entities." Joyce d'Silva, a director with Compassion in World Farming, confirmed this position adding that it was "horrifying" that -- "the narrow interests of certain commercial sectors can have more influence than organisations which represent the values and aspirations of millions of citizens."