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Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

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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 The report also notes cities that repealed laws of these sorts during the last year, and places that attempted to pass laws but failed.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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October 2, 2014

Farm to EVERY Fork

group photo with t-shirts
"Guess who loved their Farm to EVERY Fork t-shirts?" asks pastor Warren Barnes rhetorically.

poster of event"Most of them wore them to school on Monday!"

The Farm to EVERY Fork Forum is in its 2nd year and culminates from nearly three years of networking in the community and with public health groups concerned about healthy eating and active living. Much of this was done through the Healthy Sacramento Coalition, which Grace Presbyterian Church helped to found. Their good standing in the community meant that speakers were happy to participate in a compelling program.

This year's FTEF followed the opening of Grace's CalFresh/EBT weekly booth where folks can purchase fresh produce with their electronic SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits cards -- year-around.
table display

"Grace is a small church with a big heart and vibrant outreach, especially involving food justice and population health," says Rev. Barnes.

Indeed it is!

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July 29, 2014

Fancy Irrigation for Church Garden: A (somewhat) Cautionary Tale

Tell us about the project?

We were able to successfully install two rain barrels off the side of Immanuel Presbyterian Church (Indianapolis) that connects to an underground piping system. This piping system exits the ground inside the garden. Soaker hoses can be attached to the exit to water the garden or volunteers can put a watering can underneath the faucet. There is also a stand-alone rain barrel inside the garden. A watering can be filled by lifting the lid to the rain barrel & then dispersed in the garden. This will cut down the cost of maintaining the garden & make it easier for volunteers to water the garden.
Who was involved?
We had five adults and three kids participate in building the rain barrel system. We had seven kids & two adults plant the vegetables in the garden. Since installing, we have had 7 families volunteer to help care for the garden this summer as well as our church's Boy Scout troop.
Anything unexpected?
We spent about 5 weekends working on rain barrels instead of the planned 1-2 weekends. We had great difficulty gathering volunteers at the same time to complete a project of this size.
Challenging? Anything you'd do differently next time?
Installing the rain barrels next to the side of the building posed a challenge. A hill goes off that side of the building (which is what you need for the underground piping) and it took two times setting the rain barrels in order for them to not slant. The difficulty in getting volunteers for this project was also a challenge. We will not attempt a construction project this large any year in the near future. If a large project needs to be done again, we will break it up over many months into smaller much more manageable sections in order to get more volunteer participation.
What would you would encourage others to do if they try to replicate something similar in their area?
Do your research in how to install rain barrels properly. This project is not a cheap expense. Our grant money provided $300 of this project this year. Last year we raised $100 that was used in this installation. In addition, the family that oversees this project donated an additional $300 in order to make this project fully operational. So you will need much more than $300 to complete a project of this size. In addition, consider creating a committee of people in charge of completing an outdoor project of this scale, break the project up in small sections and designate individuals to oversee that portion of the project. Plan the project throughout the winter & have the individuals price out the parts needed per section to better estimate costs. Then, accomplish each section slowly throughout the entire length of spring, summer, & fall. Therefore, it will be fully complete in a year's time. We would also would recommend finding somewhere that the produce can be donated fresh instead of preserved. It is much less work and much easier to get volunteers.
Has this experience changed your church and community in any way?
We are in the interim search process for a new pastor and this project was one of the experiences we have shared that demonstrates some of the success and challenges of undertaking something of this size during a time of transition.  It also is helping us continue to grow in our relationship with people who are under-resourced with access to fresh produce and the programs/churches helping them with on-site assistance.
Anything else?
Our congregation has been blessed with a young adult couple (Kelly and Brad Shinabargar) who are passionate about growing healthy food and helping our congregation’s children learn how to garden.  They also have a passion for helping people who are under-resourced and the growth of this garden over the course of three growing seasons has been tremendous thanks to their determination, creativity, energy and imagination. We could not have accomplished this project without them and are grateful to God for their commitment to the Youth Garden!

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July 9, 2014

The Herb Garden

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.

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May 13, 2014

Food Justice Fellows Explained... App available (the old kind)

Food Justice Fellows heading

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.

Application process: Interested individuals should send their completed applications to Andrew Kang Bartlett andrew.kangbartlett@pcusa.org.  Application forms can be downloaded HERE.

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.

Alison Cohen and Blain at assembly

Alison Cohen and Food Justice Fellow Blain Snipstal at assembly in Oakland


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.?  
* Yes.
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.


 

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May 13, 2014

Not just a garden

Valley Verde (Green Valley) is located in the Santa Clara Valley in California. PHP provided a first-time grant to them for their work in 2013 to address poverty and food insecurity among vulnerable California residents living in low-income neighborhoods in Gilroy and San Jose. Most of the participants are recent immigrants. Valley Verde provides everything they need to establish organic home gardens and the residents take it from there with support and guidance from mentors throughout the year. Here is Esperanza's story.

Esperanza, a mother of two children pictured here, is growing healthy food for her family.

Back in her home country Esperanza wanted to have a career. She went to college and studied business. When her husband decided to move to the US in search of better employment opportunities, Esperanza didn't want to follow him. But then she realized that staying alone with her daughters didn't feel right. About a year ago, she moved to the US to join her husband. At the beginning, she struggled to find a sense of community and to access healthy food for her family.
But that changed when she learned about the gardening program provided by Valley Verde. Esperanza had never gardened before, but her daughters were so enthusiastic about the program that she decided to take a chance. Valley Verde helped her plant a garden and taught her how to take care of it.
Esperanza now has two beautiful garden beds, and she is able to provide high-quality, organic vegetables to her children. The garden has helped Esperanza's family economically because she no longer has to purchase some vegetables from the store. As importantly, Esperanza feels less lonely, is active and is engaging with others in the community.
"My garden really helped me to feel better and less lonely. I see how my plants are growing and changing every day and I feel good about growing my own food. I haven't bought lettuce or cabbage for the last four months" (Esperanza, 2013).

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April 17, 2014

Celebrating Seeds with New Report: Heirlooms yes! Seed monopolies no!

Photo collage of heirloom seeds

New Seed Survey Report Highlights Privatization Concerns

The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance today released A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US in celebration of La Via Campesina's International Day of Farmers' Struggles in Defense of Peasants' and Farmers' Seeds – April 17.

The report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones. Responses reveal that many growers save and share seeds to produce healthy food, preserve their cultural heritage, and to defy efforts by transnational agribusinesses to privately patent and monopolize control of seeds.

The report is especially pertinent during 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, as designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Based on the surveys and the Call to Action of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the report provides individual, community, national and international action recommendations aimed at defending seeds from privatization and preserving them for the common good.

As a member of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joins in presenting this report in solidarity with La Via Campesina in its global efforts to defend food and seed sovereignty. The report is available to read at usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org and on our website at pcusa.org/food.

________

For more information:

Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian Hunger Program, PC(USA) – 502.569.5388

Devika Ghai, Pesticide Action Network North America – 415.728.0169

Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition – 773.319.583

Charity Hicks, East Michigan Environmental Action Council – 313.725.0554

Sara Mersha, Grassroots International – 617.524.1400

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April 7, 2014

Bright Futures?

My name is Andrew Kang Bartlett and I am grateful to have been able to serve as associate for national hunger for the past 13 years ever since Gary Cook (sitting in the pews) hired me on for a 6-month interim position. I hope you know the ‘minute’ in Minute for Mission is a euphemism. No one has ever done it in a minute, and I’ll be speaking for about 4 minutes. Also in the name of transparency – a principle seekers of justice promote – my salary is provided through One Great Hour of Sharing, and my job is to ask you to give generously to OGHS. A clear conflict of interest.

But I believe you should give generously in any case. Actually, all you need to do is read the story of Huerto de la Familia in the bulletin and you’ll be convinced. So I’ll just tell you a story.

Read more...

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January 21, 2014

Tributes to John Kinsman

THE BRIGHT LIGHT OF JOHN KINSMAN

Johns at chicago merchantile exchange

Rally at the 2011 Pull Together Solidarity Tractorcade, Wisconsin State Capitol. The event drew over 150,000 people -the  largest gathering ever in WI history. John Peck on left, John Kinsman on right with another farmer in the middle.

The physical life of John Kinsman has ended, but he lives fiercely in the hearts and minds of the myriad people he touched and his many close friends.

Wisconsin dairy farmer, a dear friend to many, a tireless warrior for food sovereignty, and a champion of family farmers in his home town and literally around the world. While continuing to run his dairy farm, John traveled around the US and the globe showing up wherever people needed to hear about the plight of family farmers, how they needed a fair price, and the need to turn upside down exploitative trade and farm policies. Even as he began to decline he would be out with the masses, marching with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and speaking in front of crowds.

This quote gives you a sense of John's unique humor and colorful stories, "Organizing farmers is like pushing a wheelbarrow of frogs.”

John lived life with abundance, fought for justice, laughed with friends and enemies, inspired me and so many others, and will be sorely missed!

~andrew kang bartlett

 


"John Kinsman, a dairy farmer and loving husband and father from the hilly Driftless region of Wisconsin was an unlikely and unassuming giant in the global struggle for justice and food sovereignty. But a giant he was, touching the lives of countless people around the world in his 87 years of farming, protesting, strategizing and building relationships and solidarity.John died peacefully yesterday at 87, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, surrounded by family on his farm."

Read the "In Memory of John Kinsman," by Siena Chrisman on the WhyHunger blog.

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January 6, 2014

Why You Should Care About Political Advocacy

“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.

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November 26, 2013

"Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving!"

A Garden Fable


stinkbug"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."

carrot"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.
stinkbug

"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."

carrot"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.
stinkbug
"Okay. Not bad, but what about global hunger? Those giant free trade agreements will make it even tougher for family-scale farmers?"
carrot

"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!"
stinkbug

"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."

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October 30, 2013

Food Justice Jobs! 2014 Anti-Hunger VISTA positions - Deadline Extension to Nov. 29

Ac The Presbyterian Hunger Program - PCUSA is looking to hire 12 full-time Anti-Hunger Opportunity Corps VISTA volunteers starting February, 2014.
Are you passionate about supporting community-driven solutions to injustices in the food system, locally and nationally?
If selected, you will work with a team of VISTAs in one of three cities - Louisville, Cincinnati or Indianapolis, to build capacity and work with them to build the power of the grassroots toward positive change. Preference given to people from and planning to stay in those areas. Candidates should send resumes and cover letters
by Friday, November 29.

++++++++++++++

Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) - Jobs Announcement

PHP plans to host 10-12 full-time Anti-Hunger Empowerment Corps VISTA volunteers for 12 months starting Feb. 2014. Four people will be based out of the PCUSA national offices in Louisville, Kentucky, and the others will be deployed as teams in Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Visit the AmeriCorps*VISTA website for more information about the VISTA program. Visit pcusa.org/hunger for more info about the Hunger Program.

1) AmeriCorps*VISTA Community Food Justice Cultivator (6-10 positions)

Scope: Under the supervision of the National Associate for PHP, the AmeriCorps*VISTA will assist congregations, neighborhoods and organizations in one of three cities in outreach for SNAP, WIC and Senior Nutrition Programs, and in connecting people and communities struggling against poverty to locally-grown, healthy foods through these programs and other grassroots initiatives.

Responsibilities:

- Develop great working relations with congregations, neighborhood leaders, community-based groups, feeding programs, refugee communities, schools and institutions, and food justice organizations in the wider metro area, as well as with farmers, farmers market associations, and related producer/distributor groups.

- Work collaboratively with community and faith groups to develop volunteer, outreach and marketing plans for USDA nutritional programs and local food initiatives, including programs which increase local and healthy options for those lacking access to affordable good food.

- Organize, carry out trainings, and develop leaders to continue training programs.

- Support groups in identifying funding sources for related initiatives; occasional fundraising for local partners possible.

- Increase SNAP and nutrition program benefits use at farmers markets and other markets, and support gardening, farm and nutrition education.

- Assist with other areas of PHP work, especially on social media, story-telling and writing on food justice and related areas, making connections between local and global.

Requirements:

1. Desire and ability to work with a diverse group of people. Must possess cultural competency skills to work with people of many different backgrounds.

2. Ability to motivate oneself and work independently as well as in a team environment.

3. University degree or equivalent life experience preferred.

4. Great phone, face-to-face and written communication skills.

5. Strong interest in community organizing, food justice, social justice, and refugee/immigrant concerns.

6. Must be proactive, innovative, reliable, and detail-oriented (report writing is part of being a VISTA).

7. Fluency in English and one of the following languages preferred: Spanish, French, Creole, Nepali, Burmese, Lingala, Kituba or Somali.

8. Understanding of how congregations and faith-based agencies work, or willingness to learn.

9. Flexibility about work hours and willingness to work evening and weekend hours.

10. Must be willing to commit to one year as a full-time worker with AmeriCorps*VISTA and PHP. VISTA requires that applicants have no outside professional or educational commitments.

+++++++++++++++++

2) AmeriCorps*VISTA National Food Justice Coordinator (2 positions)

Scope: Under the supervision of the National Associate for PHP, the AmeriCorps*VISTA will inspire, equip and connect congregations and organizations in several USDA target states around the United States in methods and best practices for outreach on SNAP, WIC and Senior Nutrition Programs, local food economy building, volunteer recruitment and management, fundraising, and in supporting people and communities struggling against poverty to strengthen their voices and increase access to locally-grown, healthy food.

Responsibilities:

- Develop great relationships with people, congregations, interfaith hunger ministries, PHP grantee and other organizations in the target states, as well as with local producer/distributor and food justice groups in those areas.

- Work collaboratively with community and faith groups to develop volunteer, outreach and marketing plans for USDA nutritional programs and local food initiatives, including programs which increase local and healthy options for those lacking access to affordable good food.

- Help facilitate the development and implementation of training programs.

- Support groups in finding funding sources for related initiatives; occasional fundraising for food justice partners possible.

- Assist groups and congregations in increasing SNAP and nutrition program benefits use at farmers markets and other markets, and support gardening, farm and nutrition education.

- Assist with other areas of PHP work, including global food and land issues, writing for PHP blogs and PHP Post, etc.

Requirements:

1. Desire and ability to work with diverse groups and individuals. Must possess cultural competency skills to communicate with and work with people of different backgrounds.

2. Ability to motivate oneself and work independently as well as in a team environment.

3. University degree or equivalent life experience preferred.

4. Excellent phone, face-to-face and written communication skills; strong computer, social media and presentation skills.

5. Strong interest in community organizing, food justice, social justice, and refugee/immigrant concerns.

6. Must be proactive, innovative, reliable, and detail-oriented (report writing is part of being a VISTA).

7. Fluency in Spanish a plus.

8. Understanding of how congregations and faith-based agencies work, or willingness to learn.

9. Willingness to work some evening and weekend hours; willingness to do some travel.

10. Must be willing to commit to one year as a full-time worker with AmeriCorps*VISTA and PHP. VISTA requires that applicants have no outside professional or educational commitments.

To apply for this position, please email a cover letter and resume to Andrew by November 29, 2013.

Go to their website to learn more about AmeriCorps*VISTA.

For more information, call Andrew Kang Bartlett at (502) 569-5388.

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October 17, 2013

Ode to the Waitress

She glides across sticky wooden floorboards, bearing a heavy tray

and a plastic pitcher of raspberry iced tea.

“You got six at 21, and the party in the back – stay focused, and smile”

her manager winks as he impales the paper ticket on a mental spike.

She digs for the ibuprofen stashed in the Ketchup-stained apron around her waist;

smiles will come easier if her feet can forget about the first shift.

Table 6 needs refills, 9 needs their check

Another high chair for 17;

the neatly rolled silverware, which used to form a small white mountain

has melted to ...

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July 1, 2013

Triennium (pre- or post-) Youth Activity!

Community Food Assets:

Taking an Inventory

Pre- or Post-Triennium Youth Group Activity

From the Presbyterian Hunger Program

DOWNLOAD the ACTIVITY GUIDE

This interactive group study is designed to be a fun, informative way for youth to learn about food in your local community, as preparation or follow-up to Triennium themes of hunger and poverty alleviation.

Delve into the challenging issues of hunger and poverty using a positive approach! Studying the assets (people, programs, resources) in your community that help people get access to enough good food is one way to begin to understand food justice. All youth groups are invited to join in this activity!

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June 3, 2013

The People on the Bus Go... Hungry?

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. 

casey in a field with bicycle

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April 10, 2013

Why a Garden? 1st Food Justice Learning Call on Tax Day!

Food Justice Learning Call
Hosted by the Presbyterian Hunger Program & the Food Justice Fellows

Why a Garden? 
Community, Church and Market Gardens & Resources for Urban Agriculture

Monday, April 15
12:00 noon (eastern); 11am (central);
10am (mountain); 9am (pacific)
Call 424-203-8075 and Enter 180305#

Hear presentations from three experienced urban agriculture practitioners & join in a conversation about the multiple benefits (and challenges) of gardening in community. Learn, share struggles and what works, connect with people and resources, and be inspired to build just, resilient and sustainable food economies.

Presenters: Laura Henderson, Executive Director of Growing Places
Jeremy John
, Quixote Center
Laura Collins,
Healthy Food for All Program Coordinator, CAIN

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October 29, 2012

Food Justice Jobs Announcement for Anti-Hunger VISTA positions

The Presbyterian Hunger Program - PCUSA is looking to hire 12 full-time Anti-Hunger Empowerment Corps VISTA volunteers starting February, 2013.
Are you passionate about supporting community-driven solutions to injustices in the food system, locally and nationally?
If selected, you will work with a team of VISTAs in Louisville and in two other cities, likely Nashville and either Cincinnati or Indianapolis, to build capacity and work with them to build the power of the grassroots toward positive change. Preference given to people from and planning to stay in those areas. Candidates should send resumes and cover letters
by Monday, November 26.

Download this announcement as a PDF

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October 12, 2012

Food Week of Action Kicked Off by Events in NYC and India!

Woman farmer with baby on back

WHY Hunger and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance kick off the Food Week of Action with a pre-event, a ceremony for the Food Sovereignty Prize winner and three honorees!

You can watch the event, which took place on October 10 in NYC, in its entirety on the Food Sovereignty Prize site.

As an alternative to the World Food Prize, the Food Sovereignty Prize champions solutions coming from those most impacted by the injustices of the global food system. Celebrate community-led efforts to win food sovereignty for all.

Highlights of the ceremony include presentations from:

Read about the amazing events happening in India in the following and see the new paper from Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance - "Nourishing the World: Scaling Up Agroecology," which takes on the myth that only industrial agriculture can feed the world by looking at the successes of smaller-scale sustainable farming approaches and their potential!


World Food Day 2012

ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
From Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Joining Hands Program, US Food Sovereignty Alliance,  and Other Events Related to World Food Day
Go to the US Food Sovereignty Alliance Food Week of Action page

or

Download a PDF of the Activities to read, print or share via email

Below are the actions we are asking people to do this fall, both during the Food Week of Action (oct. 14-21), on World Food Day (Oct. 16) or anytime throughout the fall.

ACT for JUSTICE in the FOOD CHAIN . . .

1. With Farmworkers!  Stand in solidarity with farm workers and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and send a supermarket postcard or manager’s letter

2. With Family Farmers!  Push for transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to make sure family farmers and people who eat are not hurt by this secretly negotiated international trade agreement.

3. With Food Workers!  Become an ally of employees behind the kitchen door. Request a raise to the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour for restaurant workers.

4. With Hungry People and God's Creation!  We're burning our crops as fuel rather than using land to grow food. Tell the Obama Administration to waive the mandate for corn ethanol.

* You can find a new World Food Day prayer from the Presbyterian Hunger Program used today during our closing devotions at our Advisory Committee meeting.


Food sovereignty, the real World Food prize

..."The Green Revolution fully ignored the role of democratic policy — which avoids ecological and social costs while ensuring that food production and food producers remain vital to their society and culture.

From the perspective of family farmers and peasants who revere “food sovereignty,” sustainable, democratic foods that respect ecology, culture and diversity of economic opportunity offer a lot more than just improving the “quality, quantity or availability of food” for current and future generations. ..."

READ the full article from press-citizen.com

 

EAA Food for Life banner
Press Release

Christian alliance calls for investment in agroecology to end hunger and build resilient communities

The Presbyterian Church USA partners with the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), which just released a paper calling for increased investment in sustainable agricultural practices that support small-scale farmers and local communities, and also benefit the environment.

“Nourishing the World: Scaling up Agroecology” presents numerous examples of the successful use of agroecological methods in increasing yields for farmers using locally-available natural resources while lowering or eliminating farmers’ reliance on costly and polluting chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Global figures on hunger released today by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme emphasize the urgency of investing in effective policies and practices to feed the world. Nearly 870 million people, or 1 in 8, were suffering chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. According to the report, global progress in reducing hunger has levelled off since 2007-2008, with the number of hungry people rising in Africa and developed regions. More than 1 in 4 people in Africa are chronically hungry.

“Tackling hunger is not in the first instance about producing more food,” says Christine Campeau, EAA’s Food Campaign Coordinator. “It is about investing responsibly in sustainable agricultural practices and changing wasteful consumer habits that will benefit people, communities and the environment now and in the long-term.”

The paper sets out an alternative path to the one currently being promoted by some governmental and private sector initiatives, which is to expand the industrial “green revolution” style of agriculture. While this type of agriculture has certainly increased food production in recent decades, it has also “destabilized the natural resource base and drives much of the loss of biodiversity” as well as contributing - directly and indirectly - to the 30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) currently generated by the agricultural sector.

“In developed countries, where industrial-scale monocropping is the prevailing agricultural model, it is easy to forget that the majority of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers,” states Peter Prove, EAA Executive Director. “The answer to hunger and food insecurity is not turning more of these small farms into huge plantations, which damage both local communities and the environment, but investing in the knowledge-sharing, networking and sustainable practices that have proven to increase yields, protect the natural environment, empower communities, and enhance resilience in the face of a changing climate.”

“It’s all about Christian stewardship of God’s creation, and responding to the needs of people and communities rather than corporations”, stressed Nigussu Legesse, Programme Executive for Africa of World Council of Churches and member of the EAA’s Food Strategy Group.
The paper has been released in advanced of the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, 15-20 October. Civil society representatives who participate in the CFS as part of a Civil Society Mechanism are calling on CFS members to act immediately to help small-scale food producers to adapt to climate change and prevent further dangerous climate change-related impacts on food security. In this context, the EAA is calling for:

* Much greater investment in research on agroecological food production methods, building on traditional knowledge and existing best practice, for the purpose of enhancing smallholder-based, low-emission, high-productivity agriculture in the context of climate change.

* Increased support for the establishment and expansion of farmer-to-farmer networks at local levels throughout the developing world, for the sharing of information and best practices in agroecological food production.

* Enabling policy environments at national and international levels, recognizing the central role of smallholder farmers in global food security and supporting smallholder-based agroecological food production, and agroecological extension programs at national and local levels.

* Increased support for the establishment and expansion of smallholder farmers’ collectives, to improve market opportunities and the collective capacities of smallholder farmers and their communities.

* More effective regulation and management of the negative impacts of corporate influence of agricultural policy and practice.

* More focused and effective attention to reducing food waste throughout the food supply chain.

“Agroecology will be necessary, if we are to find a viable path through the intertwined challenges of future food security, and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” the paper states in its conclusion. “In the context of climate change, business as usual in the field of food production is not an option. Agroecology offers the prospect of sustainable food production to meet the needs of a still growing global population, while at the same time reducing the GHG emissions from the agricultural sector, building resilience to already unavoidable climate change, protecting biodiversity, and sustaining communities and rural livelihoods.”

Nourishing the World: Scaling Up Agorecology is available at: http://tinyurl.com/EAAagroecology2012

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October 5, 2012

Food or Hunger? Land Grabs Turn World Food Day to World Hunger Day

logo of Asian Peasant CoalitionLand Grabbing is turning World Food Day into World Hunger Day for millions. See the Press Release below from the Asian Peasants Coalition. And speaking of peasants - which in most places around the world doesn't have a negative connotation as it does with some in the U.S. - the Korean Women's Peasant Association has won the 2012 World Sovereignty Prize and will be celebrated in New York City, along with other honorees including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who just won an agreement with Chipotle as part of their Campaign for Fair Food!

October 10 at 7:00 pm. You can attend in person or watch the live stream. Details here...

Press Release
October 5, 2012
Asian Peasants to Declare “World Hunger Day”
On the Occasion of the World Food Day on October 16

The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and its members will organize simultaneous actions on the occasion of the UN FAOs World Food Day on  October 16, to highlight landlessness and chronic hunger.

The FAO said their official theme on October 16 is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world. It says, it has been chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger. In addition,  FAO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) calls on agribusiness to step up investment from Central Asia to North Africa.  Furthermore, the two organizations called on governments to create an enabling policy environment that fosters private-sector investment.

“We condemn FAO and ERBDs statement. This is a continuation of what was engineered during the Rio+20 Summit last June 2012 in Brazil. Under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, both domestic and foreign investors, will be given legal authority to make it easy for them to further intensify land grabbing, to multiply plunder of available resources and step-up corporate takeovers of other vital sections of the economy,” stated Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general and concurrent secretary general of the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) based in Indonesia.

Ajiguna said that, “This will further expand agribusiness that will only exacerbated  landlessness, hunger, poverty, and  increased environmental destruction. This will further undermine the people’s right to food, agricultural progress and rural development as domestic agricultural production program is locked up of neo-liberal globalization.”

Land grabbing aggravates landlessness

“Meanwhile, international NGO GRAIN has recorded 400 cases of large-scale agricultural investments all over the world while 38 cases is in Asia (excluding Philippines-China deals which was suspended) . Nearly 2 million hectares of land in Asia (particularly in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, China, Timor Leste, Indonesia and the Philippines) have been subjected to these investments since 2006. It has resulted in increased landlessness, displacement of people, violations of human rights and degradation of natural resources, thereby further worsening poverty and hunger among small food producers<” remarked Zenaida Soriano, APC  Southeast Asia Coordinator and also the President of the National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN) in the Philippines.

Ajiguna added that, “In Indonesia, there is unceasing expansion of  palm oil  plantations in Jambi province. It invaded our forest and rice producing areas. There were around 259 permits palm oil  plantations covering more than 1.3 million hectares and about 980, 000 hectares have been planted (Provincial Disbun 2010).  In 9 villages in Mersam District in Batang Hari, 7,800 hectares of rice lands will be converted into palm oil. Palm oil plantation threatens rice self-sufficiency  program of the government and Indonesian people would end up seriously hungry.

Chronic Hunger

Soriano mentioned that, “ In South Asia, six out of 10 people are hungry and eight out of 10 underweight children live. Nearly 42 percent of Nepal’s children under five years are chronically undernourished. In India, 410 million people were living in poverty and eight Indian states are food insecure. In Sri Lanka, about 4 million people are undernourished. Children and pregnant women are most affected. In Pakistan, 83 million people were food insecure.  In Bangladesh, 70 million people are living in poverty and experiencing chronic hunger and malnutrition.”

Soriano revealed that, “In Southeast Asia, 87 million people in Indonesia are food-insecure, of which 25 million are severely hungry. In the Philippines, one out every four Filipinos suffers from hunger.  Of the 103.7 million Filipinos, 25 million are hungry. Worst, the floods, droughts, earthquakes and other natural disasters as well as state repression cause widespread destruction and force them to abandon their homes and farms.”

World Hunger Day

Ajiguna and Soriano announced that,  “On October 16, the APC will declare ‘World Hunger Day’ on the occasion of the World Food Day 2012. We will do this to emphasize the real situation that the rural people are landless. That landlessness is worsening by large-scale land grabbing of local and foreign investors in agriculture which aggravates chronic hunger experience by the rural poor. Unfortunately, the world’s food producers are the most food-insecure and hungry people..Having no land to till makes them more vulnerable of hunger. Many of them, are seasonal farm workers.

On  October 16, the APC will simultaneously organize different activities across Asia.  In the Philippines, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) will lead a protest in front of the Department of Agriculture.  A peasant caravan against land grabbing in the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan will follow on October 17-18 and will culminate on October 19. In Sri Lanka, the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)  will organize week of action in many parts of the country. In Nepal,  different events in 45 districts will be organized by All Nepal  Peasants Federation ( ANPFa).  The Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU) in India will organize simultaneous demonstration opposing land grabbing in 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh while a People's Biodiversity Camp will be held in Hyderabad.  Similar actions will be held in Indonesia, and Pakistan.”

“We demand for a genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty to resolve chronic hunger. The victory of the Isabela farmers and its people against Itochu (Japan)s  bioethanol plant is a concrete example. They were able to shut down the bioethanol plant. And they are now planting rice and corn in more than 1,000 hectares of land they reclaimed from EcoFuel. Meanwhile, the AGRA, together with other farmers groups  in Indonesia, led thousands of peasants on January 2012,  and mobilized in front of the Presidential Palace and Parliament, resulting to a special legislative committee to address agrarian conflict….  These actions are peasant-led and directly benefitted the local peasant communities. Let us continuously reclaim lands that have been grabbed and plant it with food crops," Ajiguna and Soriano ended. 

##

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June 7, 2012

What is the most critical law you can think of that affects hungry people, farmers, developing countries and the health of the land - and, well, everybody?

cartoon farmer on tractorWhenever Presbyterians approach our food and farm policies, we can hang our hats on our faith conviction “that God our Creator has made the world for everyone, and desires that all shall have daily bread” (UPCUSA, Minutes, 1979, p. 189). This underlying conviction of a right to food shapes our advocacy about agriculture and the food system.

With this value in mind, you can weigh in on the Farm Bill debates that are heating up in our nation’s capital ~ Write to your Senators about the Farm Bill today! This link takes you straight to the PCUSA which allows you to reach your Senators in less than a minute. Seriously. Time yourself.

"Why would I do that? you ask . . .

Well, our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the U.S. Farm Bill, impact people and communities from rural America, to urban centers, to developing countries - hundreds of millions of people! In the current budget climate, the Farm Bill’s limited resources must be targeted effectively where the need is greatest. We must prioritize programs and policies that curb hunger and malnutrition, support vibrant agricultural economies in rural communities, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has joined with the interfaith community to call for a Farm Bill that promotes local food security in the U.S. and around the world, strengthen rural communities, and care for the land as God’s creation. 

The Senate is currently debating the reauthorization of the Farm Bill – the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 – and consideration promises to drag out for over a week, as hundreds of amendments will be offered.  Your Senators need to hear from you about a just and healthy Farm Bill.

The letter will do this automatically, but let's lay out the important issues. What we want is a Farm Bill that:

  1. Restores cuts to the SNAP program, while reforming crop insurance subsidies.  Senator Gillibrand has introduced an amendment to this effect.
  2. Fully funds conservation programs, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, and preserves the conservation compact, making sure that enrollment in any new insurance subsidies are tied directly to compliance with conservation programs.
  3. Includes full mandatory funding for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers through the 2501 title. Senator Udall has introduced an amendment to this end.
  4. Includes all elements of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 1773) introduced by Senator Brown.
  5. Includes the Packer Ban to limit consolidation in the meat industry, in accordance with the amendment introduced by Senator Grassley.
  6. Robustly funds the Rural Development title, which is essential for spurring rural economic activity and creating jobs.
  7. Shifts our food and farm policy away from price supports that advantage the large, industrial farms, and instead levels the playing field for small and medium-sized growers, as well as a new generation of farmers.          

Right?!

U.S. food and agricultural policy must focus on adopting best agricultural practices that put the health of its citizens, the land and the livelihood of farmers and farm workers over the interests of a small number of large, industrial agriculture operations.  Stand up to protect not only farmers, without whom we would all go hungry, but to enact a food and farm bill that fairly and judiciously serves the interests of all Americans. 

In a 1985 statement, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly wrote “we believe it is the responsibility and duty of the Federal government to enact a comprehensive, long-term food and fiber policy, with specific price, production and conservation goals designed to protect and enhance family-farm agriculture in the United States … We believe further that this nation must establish a strong system of sustainable agriculture and prevent the continuing concentration of land in the hands of a smaller and smaller number of owners” (Minutes, 1985, p. 399).

You're still reading? Click here and register your beliefs with your civil servants sitting in Congress.

Now!

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June 5, 2012

Climate Change: Real or Not, Solving It Solves Much!

Today, June 5th, is not only the transit of Venus in front of the sun, but it is also when all these things are happening:

Better late than never, right?

On June 18-22, Environmental Ministries staffer, Rebecca Barnes-Davies will attend the People’s Summit with the World Council of Churches delegation. She will be watching the development at the UNCSD, learning from workshops at the People's Summit, and blogging on Eco-Justice Journey for Presbyterians about her experiences while in Rio. She hopes this will help us gain a better global understanding of our call to care for God’s creation, even as we continue our local efforts in our own places.

So to help celebrate the day, perhaps you might:

And since this is the Food and Faith Blog, learn about the connections between food and climate and climate and food.


Finally, contact me at Andrew.KangBartlett@pcusa.org if you want to be on the next Open Food Justice Call--Thursday, June 14 at 4:00 pm eastern time. The theme is, yup, "Climate Change: Why Food Matters A LOT!"

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June 4, 2012

Small Grants Program for PCUSA Churches Doing Community Food Initiatives

The Presbyterian Hunger Program is encouraged by the emergence of the many faith-based initiatives sprouting up around the country to bring resilience to our food system, and health to people and God’s Creation. These efforts often engage youth and multiple generations, result in greater food security, give people decision-making power over their food, increase healthy eating, create jobs and local economic growth, support local family farmers, use land ecologically, raise awareness about local and global hunger and poverty, and encourage a view of food as sacred and as a right for all people. When done well, such initiatives are wonderful ways to build relationships, community and power. We are eager to support this work as one small way we can help build God’s vision of a New Heaven and New Earth.

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April 4, 2012

VISTAs Help Bring Justice to the Food System

 

laura-stricklen photoJonathan photo
                Laura Stricklen                                      Jonathan Krigger               

 

rachel photoAri photo

                    Rachel Brunner                                        Arianna King

National Anti-Hunger and Empowerment

Corps Year Two Takes Off


AmeriCorps VISTA Team to Work in around the U.S. including Louisville

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.

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February 27, 2012

Nathan aka 'Man in Overalls' featured in new interfaith documentary

Take a look at this clip featuring PHP's Food Justice Fellow, Nathan Ballentine (aka Man in Overalls), and his efforts to help folks grow food throughout Tallahassee.

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December 27, 2011

Power on our Plates

When my daughter was in kindergarten, she would inspect her friends' strawberries at lunchtime. “No no, you don’t want to eat that,” she would solemnly inform them. “It’s not organic. It might have yucky chemicals on it.”

Yucky chemicals indeed. Studies continue to pile up showing how pesticides on food can be harmful, especially to children's health. As we head into the home stretch of the holiday feast season, I've been thinking hard about the powerful ripple effects of our food choices. Turns out, what we eat matters. A lot. (from Pesticides Action Network's "Power on our plates")

boy with kale in the snowIt does matter because "you are what you eat" is not an allegory; it is literally true. The substances that pass between your lips become your very own skin, muscle, cartilage, ligaments, nails, bones, blood, lymph and cerebral spinal fluid. Not to mention your organs, nerve cells and the two dozen digestive enzymes that break down food.

Take, for example, my daughter's now-favorite veggie, spinach: USDA found residues of 48 pesticides on their official samples. Of these, 25 are suspected to interfere with human hormones, eight are linked to cancer, eight are neurotoxins and 23 are toxic to honeybees. Yucky. Knowing all this makes the organic spinach from our local farm taste especially good.

Unlike pre-WWII food, today's food typically delivers one or more poisons to our cells because industrial farming, and its chemical dealers -- Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Dow, Dupont and others -- are at war with weeds and pests. But many pests keep winning as they develop resistence. Ever more toxins are needed. Children are most effected because they eat more fruits and vegetables and are more sensitive. But it is often when we are adults that the long-term effects hit us.
What to do?
1) First, educate yourself by finding out what's on your food (you can search by food item or pesticide)
2) Second. Consider joining Pesticides Action Network; becoming a PCUSA Earth Care Congregation and joining Presbyterians for Earth Care.
3) Third. Thank the next farmer you meet who is engaging in sustainable and organic practices and buy their last bunch of kale!

 

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November 21, 2011

Addressing the root causes of hunger

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.


Alabama Arise

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 clipView news video hereRead 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!

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November 17, 2011

Summer Internship Opportunity!

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 anathothgarden@gmail.com or call Chas Edens at (336) 408-0968.

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September 30, 2011

Hunger Program partner highlights labor rights for World Food Day

World Food Day!

World Food Day happens on October 16. The US Food Sovereignty Alliance, of which the FCWA is a member, is joining with La Via Campesina and food sovereignty movements to call on people and organizations to fashion the food and farming future we need—a future of communities, regions and nations revitalized with local food, democracy, sustainability and justice.

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September 27, 2011

PCUSA congregation plans for World Food Day

food for life with grain flying

Ashley Goff, the associate pastor at the PCUSA Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, D.C. sent us their plans for World Food Day (October 16) and the Food Week of Action.

Here is how she explained it ~~

"We are honoring the Food Week of Action starting October 9th and wanted to share our current plan. At Church of the Pilgrims, we are honoring Food Week in this way:
During our education hour prior to worship, we are having one of our members, Erin LittleStar who is active in sustainable food practices and local food/faith advocacy lead us in an hour of learning more about the food cycle and systems. This is an intergenerational event.

At the end of the hour, we are going to invite people to make 4 choices to honor the week in a practical way:

  1. Compost for a week: We have two standing composts at Pilgrims along with worm composting. People will be invited to compost for a week and bring the compost to church the following Sunday.

  2. SNAP Challenge: One of our members works for the Dept of Agriculture, specifically around SNAP, and recently did a SNAP Challenge with her colleagues. The challenge is to eat for a week on your amount you would receive for food stamps. (See how it works below)

  3. Local Food: Eat one meal a day with locally grown food.

  4. Intentional Prayer: Set an intention before each meal, snack, drink for the week. Setting an intention and honoring where the food has come from and naming if the food with be healthy or destructive to your body (and in turn to the planet).

Each session will be led by a church member who has been doing this practice and can explain the nitty-gritty.

After church, we are having a beekeeping 101 session and a farmer's market group shopping experience. We have 5 beehives at Pilgrims which pollinate our urban garden (plus areas around us) and our beekeeper is coming to give us more information on our hives, feed the bees, etc.

Erin will be taking another group to our local farmers market to meet some farmer's, shop for the SNAP challenge and have hands on learning around local food, seeing food as more than fuel but a faith experience.

Worship will be part of Food Week in some way. Yet to be determined!"

You can find all the resources you need for World Food Day and the Food Week of Action on the PCUSA's Food and Faith website.


 Take the SNAP Challenge:

STEP 1 - Eat on $4/day for a week, a month or longer if you so choose. 

STEP 2 - Experience hunger for yourself and the difficulties faced by hungry people everywhere.

STEP 3 - Engage others by sharing your experience. We encourage you to keep a journal, post to our Facebook page, email us your story or simply share your feelings with with friends, family and coworkers.


And you? Consider getting your congregation to do something for Sunday, World Food Day ~ October 16. How about organizing a group meal? Just email us at php@pcusa.org and we will send you free placemats. No cost. Table discussion questions and other downloadable resources can be found here.

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July 22, 2011

Fans of Farm Workers and NFWM

"WE CELEBRATE the 40 years of ministry of the National Farm Worker Ministry!"

Dominique holding 35 pound bucket of tomatoes

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.

 

Olga speaking at a public rallyI 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.

 

Maria in a field of grapesI 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.

 

And you can celebrate and contribute to the work of NFWM

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July 21, 2011

90 Years of Solidarity, 40 Years of the National Farm Worker Ministry

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.

protest at Reynolds

NFWM Marches at Reynolds Tobacco


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!

In Solidarity,
Felix Garza, President
Virgnia Nesmith, Executive Director

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June 29, 2011

Blurring the Line

"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"

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May 10, 2011

Summer Jobs ~ 4 VISTA Summer Associates positions

Please APPLY BY THURSDAY, MAY 12 Anti-Hunger Americorp*VISTA Summer Associates Full-time, June 8 - August 16 (10 weeks) Summer Associates are part of a new national program to fight hunger. Help increase access by low-income families to healthy local food through farmers markets, community gardens and Fresh Stops. Expand outreach and education at Summer Food Service Program sites, organize gleaning activities, and link to urban agriculture and food justice efforts. Associates will work closely with the two year-long VISTAs. * $2,145 living allowance, plus $1,174.60 Americorps Education Award or $288 stipend Send brief cover letter and resume to andrew.kangbartlett (@ sign) pcusa (dot) org by 5:00 pm on Thursday, May 12. Must be available for interview (phone or in-person) on May 13 or the morning of May 16. Questions – call Andrew at (502) 569-5388. Hosted by the Presbyterian Hunger Program, PCUSA, Louisville, KY

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May 5, 2011

Food Sovereignty Explained

All people have the right to decide what they eat and to ensure that food in their community is healthy and accessible for everyone. This is the basic principle behind food sovereignty. If you want to support domestic food security through the production of healthy food at a fair price, and you believe that family farmers and fishers should have the first right to local and regional markets, then food sovereignty is for you. via www.grassrootsonline.org FS-Booklet-Cover-2010 This excellent booklet is now available in Spanish (plus English and Portuguese!). Share it with your friends and family. Put it on your bulletin board at work. Read it to your children for a bedtime story... What are the connections to our faith values? To our commitment to end hunger? Read Turning the Tables: People First and The Daily Bread by two theologians from Brazil for their reflections on these questions. Learn more about food sovereignty and consider organizational membership in the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. Congregations may join too! Click here to go the USFSA website.

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January 21, 2011

Food Justice Fellows ~ Applications now due (final cut-off is March 11)

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.

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October 8, 2010

monsanto

After asking a class of college kids whether they had heard of Monsanto and none of them had, I asked the same question on the PHP Facebook page and many do know about Monsanto. But, there seems to be a generation gap on this. Many had heard about Monsanto years or decades ago. Like these three FB comments -- "DDT and Agent Orange in the 60's. Monsanto is a poison dealer." "From early childhood. Monsanto had a chemical plant in our town. My father was a Chemical Engineer for Union Carbide and made, among other things, MIC the stuff that was being made in Bhopal." And (sarcasm alert) -- "back in the 70's for dirty dealing and toxic pollution ....great company !!!!" But not all were elders... "Years. But in 90's heard more about ADM - and late 90's early 00's when "supermarket to the world" was sponsoring NPR, it was shocking. Well, not shocking... (It doesn't suprise me about RoundUp; not as many kids are getting their hands dirty in the fields) (for the record, I'm a Gen Xer)" And one commented that it would be "worth doing research into the issue." Indeed. Some articles on Monsanto have just come my way today, and below those are several earlier posts on Monsanto - in case you missed those. To be clear here, the Presbyterian Church USA has nothing against the company. But we do have clear policy supporting family farmers and sustainable farming approaches, and your reading of the following may raise questions about whether Monsanto is always considering these. It's a hodge-podge, but hopefully something for everyone. "...Monsanto finally admitted recently that superbugs, or pests that have evolved to be able to eat the Bt crops, are a real and growing concern." ~from the Grist article below.

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September 23, 2010

Would you believe it? Corporate lobbying is blocking food reforms

"...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."

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August 25, 2010

Holy land or a commodity?

Since the food crisis of 2008, food justice activists have warned that governments in concert with multinational corporations have accelerated a worldwide "land grab" to buy up vast swaths of arable land in poor countries. According to The Economist magazine, between 37 to 49 million acres of farmland were put up for sale in deals involving foreign nationals between 2006 and mid-2009. A friend pointed out how the land grabbing going on now is nothing new to what Native American, Hispanic and Black farmers and communities have faced for centuries. The current scale of the land grabs is tremendous. Take a look at what is happening in this good interview of Anuradha Mittal -- executive director of the Oakland Institute and keynote speaker at past PC(USA) conferences -- by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

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August 20, 2010

Pay your library fine with food

waiting patiently for a meteorite shower to commence, I spy the single light on top of the mountain in front of me

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August 16, 2010

End hunger with corporate partnerships?

"Shop To End Hunger"... So, we can end hunger by buying more products from Coca Cola? Nestle? Are these companies fighting hunger or producing more of it? (Not to mention the health impact of their products.) * What means are justified by the end to end hunger?!

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May 16, 2010

face-off over Africa

Post-war industrialized, chemical-based agriculture and food production is coming to an end – it has to if we are to reach the millennium goals and keep the planet in a livable condition. Food (including water) and the environment are issues of global peace and justice – no more and no less.

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