Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I work at a food pantry that supplies fresh produce and non-perishables for countless individuals and families. Just today we had 18 clients visit us in just an hour and a half! These clients range from individuals and couples to families of 6 or more. They are all shapes and sizes, ethnicities, personalities and so on. There is rarely a dull day at our pantry.
That is even more true now. A local grocery store chain, embattled in a family feud, has had managers walk of the job (and some have been fired subsequently) and workers protesting outside stores. Produce ...
One thing I have learned in my year in the Boston Young Adult Volunteer program is that food is a great equalizer.
So early last fall at about the same time that I showed up around 67 Newbury to work at a church and a women's daytime shelter, an herb garden showed up too. The idea had been kicked around these parts for a while, and finally a go-getter of a volunteer made it happen. She donates flowers to the shelter weekly, and finally decided it was time that we grew things too.
The herb garden, officially called The Herb Garden, supplies the shelter with organic dill, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, chives, tarragon, and basil.
This garden has become one of my great projects. I water and weed it, harvest from it, talk to strangers on the street about the best growing practices for basil, and hand out sprigs of thyme to passersby.
Now herbs are easy, they grow like weeds, and don’t require too much special attention. But I have never grown a thing in my life, and so I have grown quite attached to the health and success of these little herbs. This is the second round of plants for this garden, one in the fall and one in the spring, and this time I have yet to kill anything.
As a Young Adult Volunteer in Boston I have gotten to do a lot of cool things: working with some amazing organizations, non-profits, and farms; going to movie showings and panel discussions on a regular basis; and learning how to make things like applesauce, noodles, and chicken stock from scratch. Working with Bread for the World and getting to participate in and help with Lobby Day, AKA the happiest and most chaotic day of the year for Bread staffers, was probably the coolest.
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.
It was Earth Sunday at my Church this Sunday, and they had their Young Adult Volunteer give the sermon.
Here is a bit of it. (or you can see the rest on my blog)
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who ...
The Food Justice Young Adult Volunteers in Boston have been doing things the old-fashioned way this year and have been making things at home that we would normally buy at the store—and for a lot more money. This comes partly from our commitment to simple living, partly from our passion for food justice and creation care, and mostly because we’re volunteers living on small monthly stipends and don’t have a lot of money. So far we have experimented with growing our own produce, freezing and preserving produce from our CSA or local farmers markets, baking bread from ...
What it is: Food Justice Fellows are a cohort of spirit-based organizers connected to the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP). They are young or young-at-heart folks working to build local food economies that are sustainable and just, and people who make connections (and help others do so) between local food and hunger issues and related global concerns.
PHP will arrange for at least one training/networking opportunity for the Fellows. Small support grants from PHP (given through the presbytery, a congregation or local organization) may also be available to help the Fellows with food justice/local food economy events they may organize in their region. PHP will correspond with and do conference calls with the Fellows regularly (currently the 4th Monday at 12:00 pm (eastern time)) to exchange ideas, share best practices, discuss readings and provide updates on the U.S. and global food sovereignty movement and related work inside and outside the church. The Presbyterian Hunger Program staff and Food Justice Fellows will provide each other with mutual support, accountability and camaraderie. Hunger Action Enablers, Mission Advocates and other leaders throughout the PCUSA are potential resources and connectors.
Why it is: The purpose is to connect Presbyterians to the agrarian roots and lessons of the Bible to inspire and equip them – together with their congregations and communities – to fight hunger and poverty by rebuilding local food economies here in the U.S. and to support the same overseas through advocacy and campaigns.
If you are selected, work plans will then be developed for the year in consultation with PHP. Call Andrew at 502.569.5388 for additional information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Actual questions asked by real people...
1) Is this only for Presbyterians?
* Presbyterian, person of another faith, blended faith, seekers, spiritual-but-not-religious, current unbeliever -- all are welcome to apply. A number of fellows are Presbyterians (so you must be able to tolerate them), but we have other faiths and non-faith represented as well. That said, Fellows must be currently doing or be willing to collaborate with Presbyterians also in their food justice/local food economy building work.
2) I am wondering about the work/job component. Can the applicants have any job in the food industry?
* If the Fellow is employed, the job doesn't have to be food-related, but they would need to also be doing food justice/sustainable ag-related work (either paid or unpaid) as part of their life.
3) Does the fellowship come with a stipend so I can look for internships?
* There is no stipend. There is some funding available for events or activities that the FJF coordinates or is active leading around food justice, i.e. a program with community, churches, presbytery, government, etc. (for example, the Fellow organizes a county-wide Food Justice Teach-In with a tour of local farms, 'food deserts', a processing plant and city hall to talk with government officials about starting a Food Policy Council. PHP could provide a matching grant of $1000 or so to help make that possible.)
4) Can I be located anywhere in the U.S.?
5) Where and when would the face-to-face gathering be for the Fellows?
* We will meet face-to-face at least once a year as part of the Food Justice Fellows Program. The 2013 gathering was in DC at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference on Food Justice in April. The 2014 gathering is at the Wild Goose Festival on June 26-29 in Hot Springs, North Carolina. 2015 is not yet determined, but may be at the Growing Food and Justice Initiative Gathering. Participation in this gathering is very important for the Fellowship.
6) Would you provide funding for transportation to this gathering?
* There are scholarships available based on need, but we will expect the Fellow to raise some funds. The lack of personal funds will not limit participation.
7) Is the fellowship a year long program?
* We will do annual work plans, but those that wish to and who are in good standing would continue on year after year if so desired.
The Trinity. God in 3 persons. Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
Heard it since you were in Sunday school right? Well, have you ever compared the Trinity to salad dressing? Or the church to palette flavors? Probably not. Have no fear- it'll all make sense by the end of this post!
Salad dressing, as we learned today in our Salad Dressing Throwdown (yes, we had a competitive salad dress-off -- and you should too!) is comprised of 3 main components. 3 components like the Trinity. See how I did that?
This probably seems like two random things together, God and Massachusetts, but this is something that we frequently say at the Boston YAV house, especially about food.
Junk Food Awareness Day
“You can be an ambulance driver at the bottom of the hill or you can build a fence at the top.”
Christians are good (although not as good as we could be) at the idea of charity which involves taking care of the people who have been thrown off the proverbial mountain—the poor, hungry, and homeless. We do this through emergency assistance such as food pantries, shelters, free meals, etc. We are not so great at asking why are these people poor and underprivileged and then doing something about it—either by building a fence at the top of the hill or by changing the system that only allows a few people at the top, if you’ll allow me to extend the metaphor.
"Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving! There's nothing to be thankful about when it comes to food," complains Stanley the Stinkbug. "It's either a factory-farmed turkey or an organic turkey I can't afford? What a choice!
Sometimes the situation can seem dismal with hunger on the rise, food deserts, pesticide corporations buying up seed companies, and diet-related disease," drones Stanley. "The smelly list goes on and on, and people don't give a hoot! Just a bunch of couch potatoes watching sports all day."
"Stanley, you may be watching too much network news," replies Chris Carrot. "People all over the country and planet are working together to build food economies that are fair and more sustainable -- while supporting nearby farmers! These stories just don't make the big headlines."
Chris continues, "Neighborhood leaders and groups are bringing fresh, local food to their communities, Stanley. These are initiatives to be thankful about! One Great Hour of Sharing gifts help fund a program in Oregon to train immigrant families in farming skills at Huerto de la Familia. In Louisville, one initiative has turned teens into ambassadors of fresh produce and another holds food justice classes and brings in local produce for Fresh Stop markets in their lower-income neighborhoods."
"New initiatives are dealing with all the food waste in our system. Students are demanding better and fairer food in their cafeterias. And watch the video of the first nonprofit supermarket just opened in Pennsylvania. It's an oasis in a food desert," added Chris.
"Yeah, yeah, a few random examples." growls Stanley. "What about the advertising that food corporations bombard us with everyday? Have you seen Anna Lappé's brand-new Food Mythbuster video, "The Myth of Choice: How Junk-Food Marketers Target Our Kids"? It's terrifying. All you've described doesn't amount to an ant hill."
"No, Stanley, it's happening everywhere," exclaims Chris! "Presbyterian camps and conference centers around the country are smelling the roses of food justice! Ghost Ranch has revived its farm, Stony Point is producing veggies all over their campus and is putting in a greenhouse as we speak. Joseph Badger Meadows Camp and Eastminster Presbytery in Ohio is establishing a working farm and training program, right on their land!" gushes the Carrot. "And how does a cattail stir-fry sound? A new movement among Native Americans is bringing back traditional foods and changing lives!" continues Chris.
"Okay. Not bad, but what about global hunger? Those giant free trade agreements will make it even tougher for family-scale farmers?"
"Yes, we need to advocate to halt Fast Track and call for transparency and fairness in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to protect farmers overseas," say Chris "Luckily, policy makers are beginning to admit that export-oriented cash crop farming is not the answer to ending poverty. In fact, research shows that it is small farms that are the key to creating global food security!
Presbyterians can support great agricultural development by giving to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund and by funding great projects through the Food Resources Bank in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And we have La Via Campesina and food sovereignty movements around the world -- such as the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance — to thank for building strong coalitions to resist injustice and build just and sustainable food economies everywhere!"
"Very impressive!" admits Stanley. "And as for the turkey, my farmer neighbor is actually giving me a free-range turkey in exchange for my promise to stay out of her vegetables. Come on over at 3:00."
Where is your compassion…and if you claim to have it, when does it connect to your actions
You fooled me into believing I was born in a land overflowing with milk and honey,
A land of plenty,
your propaganda neglected to say that those who are impoverished or live in disadvantaged circumstances are not promised a place at the table,
how is it that so few can have so much while so many have so little,
must I crawl at your feet in hopes I may catch a crumb that escaped your plate,
then pray you don’t snatch ...
I am an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Presbyterian Hunger Program. I am also known as a Community Food Justice Cultivator. Eight months ago I was simply Amber Burns; activist, Black feminist and poet. For the past five years I have read many books and articles with the hope of becoming more socially and racially conscious. During that time I believed oppression was limited to sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism. Although I was hyper aware of the atrocities listed above, my narrow understanding of oppression had not granted me the ability to adequately see the underlying connectedness between food and other ...
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of helping to facilitate a family garden workshop. The workshop took place in a community garden located in West Louisville. Due to spontaneous rain showers there was a low turn-out but five enthusiastic souls blessed us with their presence. My co-worker and I were responsible for leading the youth portion of the workshop. Only one child was in attendance so our “youth workshop” transformed into a conversation about the neighborhood, how it had changed over the years and the impact of integration.
One community member was a fifty year old grandmother who ...
As a young American in my mid-twenties, I am accustomed to a rather mobile lifestyle. I have moved in and out of six different cities in the past six years. I have family scattered in multiple states, and the majority of my friends live somewhere other than their hometown. This mobility is part of the culture in which many of us are immersed. There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about our mobility or our tendencies to wander. At the individual level, it is conducive to self-discovery, fosters curiosity and open-mindedness, and nurtures the adventurous spirit. The impact of the “mobile mindset” on the community level can be viewed from many angles. What interests me at the moment is how our sense of place and commitment to our immediate community affects what we eat and how our food is grown.
My body is my God given temple ….
From my chipped toe nails to my uncombed head, back down to my ashy un-lotioned knees,
My body is starving,
yearning for something to cure its thirst,
Screaming for attention that must penetrate passed skin, beyond outer appearance,
My body could care less what clothes I’m wearing,
Or if my nails are perfectly polished
Or if a pearl necklace graces my neck,
My body is not so vain as the society it just so happens to dwell in,
She cries for adequate fuel,
She wants her insides to be colored by the ...
I am going to share with you, a poem:
and cheese powder,
and ammonium sulfate,
and yellow number 5
Okay, it is not really a poem. Just a selection of ingredients you’ll find listed on the back of the store brand cheese-its box in my recycling bin...
It’s the dirty laundry of this food justice advocate. But I air these treason in favor inclusion and the prevention of burnout.
My shoulders sag under the weight of my grocery bags. Sweat drips down my back as I peer down the highway, my eyes scanning traffic for the number 17 bus. It’s five minutes late and the afternoon sun has all but melted me and my fellow bus riders into steaming puddles on the cracked sidewalk.
That evening I sat on my front porch and stared at my green grass and budding bushes. I wanted to throw a 2 year old style tantrum, of not understanding why the world was so unfair. I was ready to take control of my food system. I was ready to get back to the dirt and simpler times. I was ready to turn my yard into a demonstration of how to do so. But for reasons beyond my control, I could not.
How was it that the ecological revolution I saw budding in myself and my backyard was so easily derailed by the previous industrial one of my predecessors?...
“From dust you were made, and to dust you will return.”
Our bodies were created of earth; they are sustained by what we intake, which is grown by, or feeds off the earth; and ultimately we will return to the earth.
I wonder however, if the modern world version of the phrase should be, “From fossil fuels you are made, to them you cannot return”
“I just want to peek inside real quick. Okay?” I said. The plastic sign read “Village Pantry,” with a big red tomato on it. It was right around the corner from an apartment I was considering, and I was curious to see what I would be dealing with.
“Of course,” my dad agreed with a laugh, as I jumped out of the car and through the doors of the corner store. I quickly darted up and down the isles, glancing at beef jerky, chips, and candy bars. I picked up a sandwich or two in the “Bistro” case, noting the offsite packaging plant.
After my curiosity was satisfied, I walked out of the store and back to my car.
“Did they have a good organic section?” Dad joked.
“Not even a tomato,” I replied before pulling out of the parking lot, “or a can of beans to stock the pantry.”
When I hear the word “Organic”…
I picture myself in the grocery store. I feel frustrated at having to pick and choose which items are “worth” spending the extra money. I worry about the chemicals on my leafy greens and fruits. The sentence that runs through my head is this: "Organic food is great, but it’s too expensive." I think that the ‘O’ word deserves a little attention...
We have been honored to be able to support Huerto de la Familia through donations to the One Great Hour of Sharing. Huerto is a dynamic initiative which works in Oregon to expand opportunities and training in organic agriculture and business creation to families with the least access, but whom have great potential to benefit. Many of these families are Latino, thus the Spanish name. I learned a lot from these wonderful short videos Huerto created this year, and you may too.
The first film in a three-part series, Harvest of Pride: Cultivating Community features the stories of families, social workers and community practitioners. While news media continue to focus mostly on the “hunger problem”, the film points to the largely ignored epidemic of food insecurity among Latinos and immigrants.
With the scale of such extravagant waste in mind, we sat down with Aaron Tornes from a Louisville non-profit Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light (KIPL) to discuss the ways his gleaning network—Glean Together!—is working to reduce the amount of waste in his local food system.
The strawberry season in Kentucky is only 2-3 weeks, so when the time comes, you have to get your hands on as many berries as possible.
When it comes to food and fairness, few populations are more consistently disregarded than our nation's incarcerated individuals. Sentenced to time away from friends and families, and kept indoors with little access to fresh air and community engagement can leave inmates even more broken and disjointed from society than ever before.
The cost of detention does not present itself solely through spiritual degradation for inmates; it also presents a very real financial cost to American taxpayers at roughly $129/day (estimate based on 2009 California State Prisons cost analysis). This money goes to inmate healthcare, security, feeding, administration and rehabilitation. One jailer in Woodford County Kentucky decided as part of his term to cut some of those costs and engage inmates in taking ownership for their food and their well-being.
This week’s Food Fighter, Jailer Johnny Jones
Read more. . .
The Heritage Presbyterian Church in Acworth, Georgia proudly boasts the motto that: “Love Grows Here”. Well, love isn’t the only thing growing at Heritage Presbyterian. Community is creeping up the trellises and leaders both young and old are being born everyday. I spoke with one such leader; Katie Loud, a young woman who decided to try her hand at growing food and ended up with in a garden of goodness.
After the untimely passing of a young man in the congregation, members of the Heritage Presbyterian Church began planning for what was soon to become the food ministry’s ...
Since I took an interest in the Food Justice movement, I’ve worked hard to start and contribute to conversations unveiling the downsides of industrialized food systems and the importance of taking an active role in the fight to reclaim and re-localize the control we have over the food we eat. So often, these conversations unearth the problem that people feel helpless, as though any action is interminably ineffectual. While the true nature of our existing food system does indeed lack transparency, there are many things that we can all do to engage our communities and ourselves in the fight ...
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.
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 email@example.com or call Chas Edens at (336) 408-0968.
"WE CELEBRATE the 40 years of ministry of the National Farm Worker Ministry!"
I am Dominique Aulisio. Through volunteering with NFWM and starting a Youth and Young Adult Network chapter in Orlando, I have had the opportunity to get to know farm workers and work hand in hand with them to fight the injustice they face.
YAYAs learn about hope, share in each others' cultures, and learn the organizing skills we need to impact our world. As a young person, working with NFWM as an ally to farm workers has given me confidence in our power to change the systems that oppress farm workers and keep our communities divided. NFWM/YAYA is unique and vital to the farm worker movement and to the broader fight for social justice. I am grateful to have the continued opportunity to work alongside NFWM in the farm worker movement.
I am Olgha Sierra Sandman. I came from Mexico to enter a college for women in training for missionary work hoping to be sent to Africa. That changed when I had the opportunity to work for two summers for the National Migrant Ministry. After my marriage to Rev. Bob Sandman, we continued in Migrant Ministry.
In May 1971, I attended the first meeting of the National Farm Worker Ministry Board in La Paz, CA. I was fortunate to be a part of the evolving of the Migrant Ministry into the National Farm Worker Ministry. NFWM opened the door widely and I entered. The farm workers also opened their arms and embraced me, both giving me many opportunities to work side by side.
Forty years later, I reflect in gratitude and praise God, for giving me this life-time opportunity to be part of a movement of justice, for learning from the farm workers about self-determination and sacrifice, about fighting for dignity, and respect and for bringing to our tables the food that sustains life.
Written in my heart are Cesar Chavez's words of wisdom: "When you work for justice, you can't afford being a sprinter, you must be a long distance runner." As I approach the finishing line, I'm ready to pass the baton on to all future runners for justice who will, as I have, stay the course and support the National Farm Worker Ministry and its courageous stand to be faithful to the struggle of the farm workers.
I am Maria Vidal. Years ago, I worked in the fields picking apricots and peaches near Stockton, California. When I learned that 15 farm workers had died from heat stress in California's fields since 2005, I was motivated to act.
Now I am a volunteer with the National Farm Worker Ministry's Support Group, LIVE - Luces y Voces de Esperanza. I and my fellow supporters seek ways that our people can be valued for their work. Above all, we bring farm workers hope that their dignity as persons will be respected. We let them know that they are not alone. It is a privilege to give my time and be in solidarity with the National Farm Worker Ministry, because NFWM works to see to it that farm workers have a voice.
The National Farm Worker Ministry -- which Presbyterians and the Hunger Program have been engaged with for decades -- celebrates 40 years of solidarity and accompaniment with farm workers. Board chair Felix Garza and director Virginia Nesmith give some background and an invitation to support this work. Tomorrow, we'll hear from Olga, Dominique and Maria about why they love NFWM.
More than 90 years ago, state migrant ministries began providing services to farm workers. Decades later, those ministry leaders were ready when farm workers began organizing in the fields and called on religious groups to accompany them. In 1971, they founded NFWM as a national organization to mobilize faith community members in the farm worker struggle for justice.
For 40 years, we have been privileged, along with you, to accompany farm workers in the fields and in the supermarkets, in labor camps and corporate offices, on the streets and in the halls of Congress.
You have helped farm workers win better wages and working conditions and the right to enforce those through union representation; the recognition from many food service companies that we all share in the responsibility to improve the conditions of those who pick our produce; and new laws such as those requiring mattresses in labor camps.
Yet we grieve for the many workers who continue to be exploited by our broken system, risking their health and their lives to put food on our table. With you, we remain steadfast to transforming the agriculture industry so that:
- No farm worker has to sleep 12 people to a trailer that has no ventilation.
- No farm worker dies from working in 100 degree heat without water or shade breaks.
- No farm worker suffers the horrible effects of being sprayed with toxic pesticides.
- No farm worker is cheated, paid for 48 sacks of oranges when they picked 53.
- No farm worker has to be silent in the face of abuse or risk being fired or deported.
We commit to saying "Yes" when farm workers ask for our help. We commit to engaging a new generation in this struggle. We commit to providing you with education and action opportunities so that together, we reach the day when each meal we sit down to is a meal we can eat with a clear conscience.
In celebration of 40 years of national work, our goal is to raise $40,000 in additional income. We recently learned about an exciting opportunity to have $5,000 of this appeal matched dollor-for-dollar by a new granting source. That means your anniversary gift is doubled - your $50 gift becomes $100 or your $100 gift becomes $200. Each donor to our anniversary campaign will receive an NFWM magnet in appreciation!
Click here to contribute online using our new secure donation system!
Felix Garza, President
Virgnia Nesmith, Executive Director
"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"
This blog has moved to a new location with a new fandangled format. If you have this blog bookmarked or feeding through an RSS feed, note that the new URL will be http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/foodfaith/. Join us there!
The updated Food Sovereignty for All Handbook: Overhauling the Food System with Faith-Based Initiatives is available free of charge! Cover-small Download PDF of Food Sovereignty for All Handbook Thanks to the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon for their work writing and publishing this valuable guide. This is a slightly updated version. The first Food Justice for All Webinar was recorded and can be found here. It is 67MB and can be viewed with Windows Media Player (WMP can also be downloaded onto a Mac). Join or invite others to one of remaining "Food Justice for All" webinars These webinars explore ways that congregations around the country are growing community by alleviating hunger and connecting healthy local food to people and communities with little access. The webinars will detail proven faith-based initiatives like summer-feeding programs, community gardens, farmers markets, tactics for getting local produce in food pantries and kitchens, and other models for linking people with healthy and local food. Sign up by clicking on the registration link below: 1. May 5th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: Growing community through local food 2. May 12th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: What congregations are doing to build just and sustainable food economies 3. May 19th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: SNAP outreach and Summer Feeding Programs 4. May 26th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: What congregations are doing to build just and sustainable food economies See also the US Dept. of Agriculture's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships website for various resources.
Food Justice Fellows Do you get angry that we grow more than enough food for everyone but so many go to bed hungry? Does the thought of building bonds and direct links between farmers and eaters stir you up? Are you already a food justice-maker? Does the idea of building oases of fresh, healthy food in "food deserts" get you excited? Have you heard of food sovereignty? Is your longing for justice - for your neighbor and all people - rooted in your faith? Yes to one or more of these means you may have the agrarian and spiritual muscle and bones that Food Justice Fellows are made of! This is a new initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program to strengthen the work of Presbyterians and communities working to build just, equitable and sustainable local food economies in the U.S. and around the world. We have seen that by strengthening localized food systems, which are controlled by the producers and consumers themselves and based on Christian principles of justice and stewarship, communities are able to become more self-reliant and economically prosperous. Food Justice Fellows will work individually as organizers in their region, but be strengthened as a national communal body by exchanging their experiences of what is working and visions for how to move forward. By virtue of being a community of practice, Fellows and PHP staff will be able to update each other on the U.S. and global food sovereignty movement and stay connected with common ground initiatives inside and outside the church. Food Justice Fellows will provide each other with mutual support, accountability and camaraderie. Consider becoming a Food Justice Fellow and/or passing this information to a young (or young at heart) adult who would be great for this.