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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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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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March 19, 2014

Now is the time!

From Elena Stein & Claire Comiskey

Dear friends,


The “Now is the Time” Tour came to a rallying close on Saturday as over 1,000 people gathered in Lakeland to complete the 24-hour vigil and set off marching up the main thoroughfare to downtown Lakeland.
rally in front of publixThe 24-hour witness outside an iconic Publix in the company’s hometown — staged from mid-day Friday to mid-day Saturday — proved to be the most poignant close to witness and community-building in ten cities over ten days. Click on the must-see video to the right for a sense of the confrontation between Publix officials and religious leaders during Friday's candlelight rally (or check out a written reflection from the Rev. Lindsay Comstock, Executive Director of National Farm Worker Ministry) as well as the powerful, guiding words that the faith delegation shared upon return, fueling the vigil participants for the long, chilly night ahead.

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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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November 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions

The aroma of macaroni and cheese, collard greens, chicken, ham, green beans, potato salad, yams, corn pudding and corn bread slithers up my nostrils. Four generations of my family form a circle and link hands. We bow our heads for prayer. My uncle asks God to bless the food and the hands that prepared it. We whisper our thanks and say “Amen” in unison. We part and create a path for the elders to make their plates then the children. Everyone has a place at the table. We eat and laugh for hours. Plates are licked clean. Stomachs are full. Pants are bursting at the seams. We find comfort at the table, where our family congregates and share the fruit of their labor. Never do we discuss where our dinner comes from. Never do we discuss the health related consequences of the food we eat. All that seems to matter is the taste and the fact that we have plenty.

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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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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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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

Read more


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

Read more


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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September 11, 2012

Huerto-Garden de-of la-the Familia-Family

We have been honored to be able to support Huerto de la Familia through donations to the One Great Hour of Sharing. Huerto is a dynamic initiative which works in Oregon to expand opportunities and training in organic agriculture and business creation to families with the least access, but whom have great potential to benefit. Many of these families are Latino, thus the Spanish name. I learned a lot from these wonderful short videos Huerto created this year, and you may too.

The first film in a three-part series, Harvest of Pride: Cultivating Community features the stories of families, social workers and community practitioners. While news media continue to focus mostly on the “hunger problem”, the film points to the largely ignored epidemic of food insecurity among Latinos and immigrants.

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July 27, 2012

Empowerment Huerto de la Familia-style

woman farming
Huerto de la Familia (The Family Garden) is a partner organization that PHP supports. They do wonderful work to expand opportunities and training in organic agriculture and business creation to families with the least access, but whom have great potential to benefit. Huerto de la Familia is bringing life-changing opportunities to families in their community. Learn more about their mission, their work and how to support Huerto’s programs.

And watch their fabulous film series, "Harvest of Pride," on their website!

 


A couple random items

1) Creative and waste-free ways to extend the life of your produce, in and out of the refrigerator

FRESH the Movie, in addition to being a great film (which you can borrow from PHP for showing) is a great resource for other things like extending the freshness of your produce!

Where you have strawberries, tomatoes or sweet corn, here are ways to store all those fruits and vegetables, especially if you’re trying to avoid using plastic bags, from the Berkeley Farmers Market. 

2) Hunger in Your County

And you can find out about hunger in your own county with this map from Feeding America which covers the entire country. I looked at the stats for the county where Louisville is located and was intrigued. The data is from 2010.

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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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February 8, 2012

Taking the Time to Make Food Sacred

raisins in hand, ear, fingers, etc
TRY this: place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love — let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli.

Now comes the hard part. Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because that first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry.

So begins an article called "Mindful Eating as Food for Thought," which challenges us to not eat like the Cookie Monster.

And in case you haven't yet done the Just Eating? curriculum, one of the sessions is all about food as a sacred gift from God. You can download it for free here. Look for Unit 1 on Food Sharing as Sacramental...

And if you've never tried a food meditation, here are the simple instructions for a Raisin Meditation!

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January 13, 2012

Farm Bill Debate Renews!

Steph Larsen leading a workshop

Photo credit: Shawn Poynter

Steph Larsen is on staff at the Center for Rural Affairs. Here she is leading a workshop at the National Rural Assembly in St. Paul, MN

     "Under current law, if one big corporation farmed the entire country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would pay 60 percent of its insurance premiums on every acre."

Sounds crazy, right? Yet this is reality and illustrates the way our food and farm policies give a hand up to the largest farms, while small-scale family farmers are largely neglected.  The article below (excerpted) from our partner, Center for Rural Affairs, points to the kinds of changes needed in the 2012 Farm Bill (yes, it should be called the Food and Farm Bill). Read what is important to our neighbors in rural areas of the country.

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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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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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May 26, 2011

Food Justice for All Webinar Resources, including The Handbook

The updated Food Sovereignty for All Handbook: Overhauling the Food System with Faith-Based Initiatives is available free of charge! Cover-small Download PDF of Food Sovereignty for All Handbook Thanks to the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon for their work writing and publishing this valuable guide. This is a slightly updated version. The first Food Justice for All Webinar was recorded and can be found here. It is 67MB and can be viewed with Windows Media Player (WMP can also be downloaded onto a Mac). Join or invite others to one of remaining "Food Justice for All" webinars These webinars explore ways that congregations around the country are growing community by alleviating hunger and connecting healthy local food to people and communities with little access. The webinars will detail proven faith-based initiatives like summer-feeding programs, community gardens, farmers markets, tactics for getting local produce in food pantries and kitchens, and other models for linking people with healthy and local food. Sign up by clicking on the registration link below: 1. May 5th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: Growing community through local food 2. May 12th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: What congregations are doing to build just and sustainable food economies 3. May 19th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: SNAP outreach and Summer Feeding Programs 4. May 26th 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) - Food Justice for All Webinar: What congregations are doing to build just and sustainable food economies See also the US Dept. of Agriculture's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships website for various resources.

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May 25, 2011

Farm Subsidies, Price Floors & Daryll Ray

If you remember back to the last farm bill reform activities, you may even remember Daryll Ray and his analysis around subsidies. Well, myths around subsidies being the root of all evil in the farming system persist even among groups such as Bread for the World. Granted the issue can seem complex and it's easier to mimic what others say (I certainly confess to this sin), but Professor Ray has done a great job of explaining the real story. Thanks to Presbyterian farmer and advisor, Brad Wilson, we have resources on this topic below at the tip of your fingers. Thank you Brad! And if you wish to learn from and join with Presbyterians discussing (and acting on!) similar topics, such as how folks are overhauling the food system with local and regional faith-based initiatives, you are welcome to join the PCUSA Food and Faith Groupsite. Just sign-up to join and you'll soon be part of this growing group of Agrarian Allies! Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee has written many excellent materials on the farm bill, price floors, (“price supports,”) farm subsidies, supply management, and related topics. Ray’s best summary of the topic is probably the Executive Summary to his (et al) 2003 report: “ Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide.” Read more...

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May 13, 2011

God's Earth: Too Big to Fail?

Tevyn EastKeynote presenter

2011 National PEC Faith & Environment Conference "God's Earth: Too Big to Fail? An Eco-Justice Conversation Among Faith, Science and Culture" August 31 - September 3, 2011, at Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center in the mountains of Colorado. Keynote speakers include Dr. William Brown, author of The Seven Pillars of Creation: The Bible, Science and the Ecology of Wonder; Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist and director of sustainable foods at the Pesticide Action Network; Carol Raffenspurger, Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network; Dr. Hayes, Professor with expertise in amphibian biology at the University of California Berkley; Dr. Holmes Rolston III, environmental ethics scholar; Dr. John E. Ikerd, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri Columbia. Special thanks to our conference sponsors, including Environmental Ministries, the Presbytery of Olympia, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, Second Presbyterian of Little Rock, and Second Presbyterian Church Indianapolis. Registration is now open at $125.00 and can be completed online here. List of workshops here. Get all the latest info on the conference on the "Too Big to Fail" blog here

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May 6, 2011

Announcing "Land and Food Sovereignty" Study Session

The “Land and Food Sovereignty” Study Session, sponsored by Agricultural Missions, Inc., is part of a National Rural Gathering on Land, Water, Energy and Food, together with the Rural Coalition and other allies. Dates: June 22-26, 2011 (Wednesday through a...

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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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February 2, 2011

We live in a beautiful world: let's CELEBRATE!

A colleague Roger Doiron and Kitchen Gardeners International produced this video about the beautiful food we can choose. Roger found it ironic that "one day after the government issues its strongest recommendation to date to eat less and better foods, the snack food industry lobby launches "National Snack Food Month" to get Americans to eat more and worse." So they launched 28ate.org . . . for fun, and to bring attention to the billions of dollars spent on advertising unhealthy, processed foods.

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January 8, 2011

We are all children of the bayou

The video gives a glimpse into the lives of shrimp fishers post-BP disaster. The fisherfolk of the bayou provide shrimp, oysters and crabs for the entire country. We are what we eat, and so to some extent we are all offspring of the bayou. The chart below gives a picture of the troubled industry. The Son of the Bayou, Torn over the shrimping life is the story of Aaron Greco and the shaky existence of wild shrimp "farmers" in southern Louisiana. The photo is of Aaron with his girlfriend, Melanie Fink, 17, after a long day of shrimping. They lean against his prized yellow Mustang last fall outside their favorite ice cream shop in Chalmette, La. ---------- Unfortunately, like almost every resource-rich place and country in the world from Cameroon to Guatemala, systematic extraction of resources has been Louisiana’s sorry history. The riches are exploited using local labor and profits depart for distant corporate headquarters. When people and resources are exhausted, impoverished communities and destroyed ecosystems are what remain. Capital says sayonara to search out new resources and new profits.

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December 7, 2010

Climate and social justice (Cancún #1)

Blain Snipstal, HEART Road Trip alumnus, is currently in Cancun during the UN COP-16 Climate Talks on a Rural Coalition delegation and sponsored by the Presbyterian Hunger Program. Along with thousands of people from civil society, many coming by caravan through Mexico, he is participating in the Alternative Global Forum on Climate Change and Social Justice (see news report about small farmer participation). Here are some of his thoughts prior to going to Cancun on Dec. 3rd, while finishing up his college studies. I write this to you as I am experiencing the final days of my academic experiment (well, at least for now). Academia, for me, was a microcosm for experiencing the dualities, tri-alities, and quasi-alities that our collective amalgamation of life, which we call the world, can offer. In my final days; the world is shrinking; its once enormity is now no more than an infinitesimal dot or splash in a sea of consciousness. Perhaps, nothing is what it seems.

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December 6, 2010

Happy birthday to EAA!

How can an acronym be born and have a birthday?! When it was born 10 years ago and stands for Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance! Okay, that was dumb. But we do celebrate these 10 years of collaborative action and the Presbyterian Church USA's past seven years of involvement! The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), one of the most diverse international Christian organizations existing today, celebrates its tenth anniversary on 9 December. Over 70 churches and Christian organizations are currently members of the Alliance, from Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. These members, representing a combined constituency of tens of millions of people around the world, are committed to working together in public witness and action for justice on defined issues of common concern. The need for an alliance to strengthen campaigning efforts for peace, justice and human dignity was identified in meetings between the World Council of Churches and heads of Christian development agencies in the late 1990s. The EAA was created to focus advocacy by churches and related organizations on a few selected topics, and provide a space where diverse churches, organizations and Christian groups could collaborate. The founding assembly of the EAA was held in Geneva, 7-9 December 2000. Trade and HIV and AIDS were the first two issues selected for joint action. Members of the EAA currently collaborate in ongoing campaigns on Food ('Food for Life') and HIV and AIDS ('Live the Promise'). "I have seen the EAA grow from an idea to a solid and effective, internationally recognized agent for change," stated Rev. Dr Richard Fee, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and Chairperson of the EAA's Board of Directors. "We've marked many successes over these past ten years but there is no doubt that the need for churches and Christians to continue to speak and act together is as urgent as ever." "The Global Week of Action has become a dynamic way for congregations in the United States to educate and act around critical trade and food justice issues that affect our partners overseas as well as people in our own communities," says Andrew Kang Bartlett of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, who serves on EAA's Food for Life Campaign strategy group. While you may not make the anniversary celebration at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on 9 December (you knew that was coming with the 'Centre' spelling, right?), but you can get engaged by downloading the Week of Action on Food Guide to use as an educational tool with your congregation! Download the beautiful PDF Food Week guide right here The list of current EAA members is available here And you can view a timeline of highlights over the past ten years here (PDF)

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November 29, 2010

The Earth is coming alive

"The Earth is coming alive," or as Dr. Ellen Davis phrases it: The earth is a living creature, with its own integrity in the sight of its Creator. Dr. Davis has been providing the Hunger Program, the Agrarian Road Trippers, and many in the United States who have read her work (such as The Manna Economy), a biblical basis for understanding the power dynamics and theological interpretation of the industrial food and farming system. This highly technified, energy-intensive system has all but replaced family-scale and organic farming, which of course had been the dominant food system not a century ago. In this new essay called, A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use*, Dr. Davis says that when it comes to food, ...I have been surprised to find that even those who do not habitually read the Bible care what it says. Perhaps there is a kind of practical theism that informs the thinking of those who deal daily with the essential means of life. Especially they care when they realize (often with surprise) how much the Bible has to say about maintaining adequate food and water supplies, about protecting the fertile soil and at the same time the economic viability of farming communities – all matters of vulnerability, urgency and indeed danger in our current era of industrialized agriculture. In A Living Creature, which you should download right now and savor, Davis reflects on the relationship between how we eat and the horrific oil disaster the planet just experienced. The modern food system, which hungers for and consumes 10% of our petroleum, is practically connected to this tragedy, but also theologically -- The wound in the ocean floor and our dominant food production practices are also connected ideologically, in that both reflect a profound misunderstanding of the created order and the human place in it. That misunderstanding is in the first instance not scientific but theological. Without setting off the spoiler alert, here is one more image from the essay that sets the context for her insightful perspective: Having watched it bleed for months, we are better able to see that the earth is not a machine, nor is it a convenient repository of useful goods. Journalist Naomi Klein comments: 'After 400 years of being declared dead, and in the middle of so much death, the Earth is coming alive.' The wound in the ocean floor and our dominant food production practices are also connected ideologically, in that both reflect a profound misunderstanding of the created order and the human place in it. That misunderstanding is in the first instance not scientific but theological. "The Earth is coming alive," or as Dr. Ellen Davis phrases it: The earth is a living creature, with its own integrity in the sight of its Creator. Dr. Davis has been providing the Hunger Program, the Agrarian Road Trippers, and many in the United States who have read her work (such as The Manna Economy), a biblical basis for understanding the power dynamics and theological interpretation of the industrial food and farming system. This highly technified, energy-intensive system has all but replaced family-scale and organic farming, which of course had been the dominant food system not a century ago. In this new essay called, A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use*, Dr. Davis says that when it comes to food, ...I have been surprised to find that even those who do not habitually read the Bible care what it says. Perhaps there is a kind of practical theism that informs the thinking of those who deal daily with the essential means of life. Especially they care when they realize (often with surprise) how much the Bible has to say about maintaining adequate food and water supplies, about protecting the fertile soil and at the same time the economic viability of farming communities – all matters of vulnerability, urgency and indeed danger in our current era of industrialized agriculture.

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October 25, 2010

Food Sovereignty movement brings call for solidarity and systemic change to Community Food Security Coalition Conference

The Food Sovereignty track of activities during the 3-day Community Food Security Coalition gathering in New Orleans looked like the program of a gathering of Via Campesina, the worldwide peasant and family farm movement that first popularized this comprehensive and transformative concept decades ago. Here is a listing of workshops led by or featuring US Food Sovereignty Alliance participants: Credit and Capital for a Just and Sustainable Food System, featuring Ben Burkett, Bob St. Peter and Lisa Griffith of the National Family Farm Coalition and Niaz Dorry of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. Food Movements Unite! Led by Eric Holt-Gimenez of Food First and featuring Joann Lo of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Rosalinda Guillen of Community to Community Development.

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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 2, 2010

Gearing up for the next Farm Bill

Here are some great ways to stay abreast of this critical legislative work -- Farm Policy, a daily newsletter about food and farm policy. Sign up for the email service and you’ll receive everything you need to know about what’s going on in D.C. It’s a ton of information, but worth skimming each morning. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog. The Presbyterian Hunger Program has been supporting this excellent coalition for over a decade. The Farm Bill and Beyond, an outstanding and very comprehensive report about how the 2008 Farm Bill came to be. It’s a little long, but definitely worth reading if you want some insight on how the next fight will play out. The blogs and twitter feeds of healthy farm advocates like @FoodDeclaration, Environmental Working Group, Food Democracy Now and Grist. And the soon-to-be launched US Food Sovereignty Alliance will have great analysis and ways to engage. Contact Andrew to learn how you can get involved in the Alliance. Thanks to Slow Food USA +++++++++++++ So, what are everyday people and farmers saying what they want from our food and farm policy?

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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 19, 2010

Flooding Pakistan

Crops have been hit hard, so international aid is needed desperately. People can give through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance http://www.presbyterianmission.org/give/DR000038/

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August 13, 2010

Your guide to the Week of Action on Food

start preparing for activities for the Churches Week of Action on Food from 10-17 October. During the Week you will be connected to thousands of people, churches and communities around the world in a movement calling for change in the way food is grown, sold, distributed and shared. It is a time to lift up the voices of small-scale food producers, particularly women, to have choices on what crops to grow and how they can grow these crops.

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June 16, 2010

Road Trippers meet with Louisville farmer

HEART visited Oxmoor Farm and learned about the farmer-owned Grasshoppers local food distributer in Louisville and the history of the farm. Then we weeded between the Brussel Sprouts and harvested garlic for putting in 400 CSA shares for distribution the...

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June 14, 2010

Ellen Davis and Wendell Berry Speaking of Faith

Land, Life, and the Poetry of Creatures, is adorned with a photo of dirt-covered bare feet. Biblical scholar Ellen Davis is helping to shape a new approach to thinking about human domination of the Earth and its creatures. With her friend, the farmer poet Wendell Berry, they speak to our collective grief at destruction of the natural world and nourish a "chastened" yet "tenacious" hope.

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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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April 24, 2010

No meat for you on Monday!

who needs meat? Remember, though, it is not simply enough to eat less meat. You should make sure what you substitute is produced in a sustainable way and doesn't fly around the world to get to you! See these articles to begin exploring the gray areas! - Tofu can harm environment more than meat, finds WWF study and Eating less meat could cut climate costs and Less meat 'means a longer life'

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April 16, 2010

An Agrarian Vision: When Work and Place Jive

From an agrarian point of view, the Exodus was a movement from the flat, easily tillable land of Egypt to "the narrow and precariously balanced ecological niche that is the hill country of ancient Judah and Samaria." The people of Israel had to re-make their economic life to conform to a landscape that allowed "only the slightest margin for negligence, ignorance, or error."

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April 15, 2010

Who started the local food revolution? Cuba or Jamie Oliver?

"The organic and urgan agriculture revolution that is under way there is nothing short of amazing, but what a lot of people don't know is the amount of hardship Cubans have been through to get to where they are. Unlike with most people in the US and other wealthy countries, growing their own and doing it organically were not really choices for Cubans: they did it to survive. Or to put it more flippantly, when life gave the Cubans limes (mint and rum), they decided to make mojitos."

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April 6, 2010

ecotone

Carol Howard Merritt, who recently wrote about Michelle Obama's healthy food initiatives and her visit to Western Presbyterian Church's Miriam Kitchen, just turned me on to this ECOTONE blog - subtitle, "Experiments in Agriculture and Industry" by C.J. from Joelton, Tenn.

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March 16, 2010

It's One Great Hour of Sharing time!

Give to One Great Hour of Sharing

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