Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I was blessed with an eight-week extended study leave spanning from January 19, when I pointed myself in the direction of India, until March 17, when I landed back in about-to-bloom Louisville. Part of the eight weeks in India and Sri Lanka was meeting Presbyterian Hunger Program Joining Hands partners and learning about their efforts to strengthen their food sovereignty. Part was immersing myself in this ancient/modern, spiritual/material land to learn from the people how they navigate and stay healthy in a rapidly changing world, and to rejuvenate myself as I celebrate 16 years of service to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
This page is designed to help you virtually travel with me. You will find my crazy route, photo galleries, videos and reports. All are found on this Interactive Map and they are also listed below. Click on this link or the map to open it in another window.
The ripple effect of contributions to the Hunger Program, mostly through One Great Hour of Sharing, creates waves of support for organizations like World Hunger Relief, which trains young people like Kaley and Ester, and many more. World Hunger Relief, based on their farm in Waco, Texas, also achieves the difficult task of making connections between local hunger and global hunger. Here are the profiles of two of their interns from their website. We are proud to be a partner!
Intern Profile | Kaley Necessary
Food Systems Intern & Garden Club Coordinator
Kaley comes to us from Indiana Wesleyan University, where she graduated in the spring of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Pre-Medicine. She also received a minor in International Community Development. Passionate about public health, Kaley became an intern with the Uganda Village Project. She was in Iganga, Uganda for 3 months where she worked as a public health educator conducting weekly education sessions on malaria, sexually transmitted infections, intestinal parasite prevention, family planning methods, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and safe water. Her “desire to see people take ownership of their health and well being” grew stronger while in Uganda.
Kaley has strong passions for development and agriculture. In Uganda, she realized her desire to address public health issues through the gateway of agriculture. After her time at World Hunger Relief, Kaley will continue to pursue knowledge of development and agriculture to prepare herself to serve in a developing country. She also hopes to apply her training in a community somewhere in the United States to help develop local food systems.
Intern Profile | Esther Honegger
Coming from Lake Zurich, IL, Esther graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science with a minor in Chemistry. Throughout college, Esther was involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Pre-Veterinary Club at her school. She was also able to intern at the Champaign County Humane Society, where she monitored the medical and behavioral statuses of the resident animals.
During her participation in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Esther had the privilege to attend a 3-week mission trip to Malawi, Africa, where she served at an orphanage. She was able to teach the children about basic animal biology and directed her teammates in helping her with daily activities.
Esther is using her time at WHRI to learn practical skills in animal agriculture so that she can serve people in a more comprehensive way. She plans to use this knowledge and the knowledge from her studies “to benefit the people of developing nations who don’t have the opportunities to learn about animal biology and health in the depth that I have.”
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.
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.
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!
When I got home from work the other day one of my roommates greeted me with a big smile and a very enthusiastic "You have to watch this!" I obliged and was not prepared for what I was about to see, in a good way. Chipotle has created a video series called "Farmed and Dangerous" which is a tongue in check revision of any action movie with an evil villain, explosions, and a hero willing to risk life and limb for a noble cause concerning us all.
Yes, a burrito chain has sponsored an episodic series about the dangers of ...
"Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving! There's nothing to be thankful about when it comes to food," complains Stanley the Stinkbug. "It's either a factory-farmed turkey or an organic turkey I can't afford? What a choice!
Sometimes the situation can seem dismal with hunger on the rise, food deserts, pesticide corporations buying up seed companies, and diet-related disease," drones Stanley. "The smelly list goes on and on, and people don't give a hoot! Just a bunch of couch potatoes watching sports all day."
"Stanley, you may be watching too much network news," replies Chris Carrot. "People all over the country and planet are working together to build food economies that are fair and more sustainable -- while supporting nearby farmers! These stories just don't make the big headlines."
Chris continues, "Neighborhood leaders and groups are bringing fresh, local food to their communities, Stanley. These are initiatives to be thankful about! One Great Hour of Sharing gifts help fund a program in Oregon to train immigrant families in farming skills at Huerto de la Familia. In Louisville, one initiative has turned teens into ambassadors of fresh produce and another holds food justice classes and brings in local produce for Fresh Stop markets in their lower-income neighborhoods."
"New initiatives are dealing with all the food waste in our system. Students are demanding better and fairer food in their cafeterias. And watch the video of the first nonprofit supermarket just opened in Pennsylvania. It's an oasis in a food desert," added Chris.
"Yeah, yeah, a few random examples." growls Stanley. "What about the advertising that food corporations bombard us with everyday? Have you seen Anna Lappé's brand-new Food Mythbuster video, "The Myth of Choice: How Junk-Food Marketers Target Our Kids"? It's terrifying. All you've described doesn't amount to an ant hill."
"No, Stanley, it's happening everywhere," exclaims Chris! "Presbyterian camps and conference centers around the country are smelling the roses of food justice! Ghost Ranch has revived its farm, Stony Point is producing veggies all over their campus and is putting in a greenhouse as we speak. Joseph Badger Meadows Camp and Eastminster Presbytery in Ohio is establishing a working farm and training program, right on their land!" gushes the Carrot. "And how does a cattail stir-fry sound? A new movement among Native Americans is bringing back traditional foods and changing lives!" continues Chris.
"Okay. Not bad, but what about global hunger? Those giant free trade agreements will make it even tougher for family-scale farmers?"
"Yes, we need to advocate to halt Fast Track and call for transparency and fairness in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to protect farmers overseas," say Chris "Luckily, policy makers are beginning to admit that export-oriented cash crop farming is not the answer to ending poverty. In fact, research shows that it is small farms that are the key to creating global food security!
Presbyterians can support great agricultural development by giving to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund and by funding great projects through the Food Resources Bank in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And we have La Via Campesina and food sovereignty movements around the world -- such as the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance — to thank for building strong coalitions to resist injustice and build just and sustainable food economies everywhere!"
"Very impressive!" admits Stanley. "And as for the turkey, my farmer neighbor is actually giving me a free-range turkey in exchange for my promise to stay out of her vegetables. Come on over at 3:00."