Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
As a Young Adult Volunteer in Boston I have gotten to do a lot of cool things: working with some amazing organizations, non-profits, and farms; going to movie showings and panel discussions on a regular basis; and learning how to make things like applesauce, noodles, and chicken stock from scratch. Working with Bread for the World and getting to participate in and help with Lobby Day, AKA the happiest and most chaotic day of the year for Bread staffers, was probably the coolest.
I spent last week in a confused, yet happy, yet exhausted state. I was all sorts of emotions at all times. Presbyterians know this week as General Assembly- and it's a force to be reckoned with.
What it is: Food Justice Fellows are a cohort of spirit-based organizers connected to the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP). They are young or young-at-heart folks working to build local food economies that are sustainable and just, and people who make connections (and help others do so) between local food and hunger issues and related global concerns.
PHP will arrange for at least one training/networking opportunity for the Fellows. Small support grants from PHP (given through the presbytery, a congregation or local organization) may also be available to help the Fellows with food justice/local food economy events they may organize in their region. PHP will correspond with and do conference calls with the Fellows regularly (currently the 4th Monday at 12:00 pm (eastern time)) to exchange ideas, share best practices, discuss readings and provide updates on the U.S. and global food sovereignty movement and related work inside and outside the church. The Presbyterian Hunger Program staff and Food Justice Fellows will provide each other with mutual support, accountability and camaraderie. Hunger Action Enablers, Mission Advocates and other leaders throughout the PCUSA are potential resources and connectors.
Why it is: The purpose is to connect Presbyterians to the agrarian roots and lessons of the Bible to inspire and equip them – together with their congregations and communities – to fight hunger and poverty by rebuilding local food economies here in the U.S. and to support the same overseas through advocacy and campaigns.
If you are selected, work plans will then be developed for the year in consultation with PHP. Call Andrew at 502.569.5388 for additional information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Actual questions asked by real people...
1) Is this only for Presbyterians?
* Presbyterian, person of another faith, blended faith, seekers, spiritual-but-not-religious, current unbeliever -- all are welcome to apply. A number of fellows are Presbyterians (so you must be able to tolerate them), but we have other faiths and non-faith represented as well. That said, Fellows must be currently doing or be willing to collaborate with Presbyterians also in their food justice/local food economy building work.
2) I am wondering about the work/job component. Can the applicants have any job in the food industry?
* If the Fellow is employed, the job doesn't have to be food-related, but they would need to also be doing food justice/sustainable ag-related work (either paid or unpaid) as part of their life.
3) Does the fellowship come with a stipend so I can look for internships?
* There is no stipend. There is some funding available for events or activities that the FJF coordinates or is active leading around food justice, i.e. a program with community, churches, presbytery, government, etc. (for example, the Fellow organizes a county-wide Food Justice Teach-In with a tour of local farms, 'food deserts', a processing plant and city hall to talk with government officials about starting a Food Policy Council. PHP could provide a matching grant of $1000 or so to help make that possible.)
4) Can I be located anywhere in the U.S.?
5) Where and when would the face-to-face gathering be for the Fellows?
* We will meet face-to-face at least once a year as part of the Food Justice Fellows Program. The 2013 gathering was in DC at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference on Food Justice in April. The 2014 gathering is at the Wild Goose Festival on June 26-29 in Hot Springs, North Carolina. 2015 is not yet determined, but may be at the Growing Food and Justice Initiative Gathering. Participation in this gathering is very important for the Fellowship.
6) Would you provide funding for transportation to this gathering?
* There are scholarships available based on need, but we will expect the Fellow to raise some funds. The lack of personal funds will not limit participation.
7) Is the fellowship a year long program?
* We will do annual work plans, but those that wish to and who are in good standing would continue on year after year if so desired.
Valley Verde (Green Valley) is located in the Santa Clara Valley in California. PHP provided a first-time grant to them for their work in 2013 to address poverty and food insecurity among vulnerable California residents living in low-income neighborhoods in Gilroy and San Jose. Most of the participants are recent immigrants. Valley Verde provides everything they need to establish organic home gardens and the residents take it from there with support and guidance from mentors throughout the year. Here is Esperanza's story.
Esperanza, a mother of two children pictured here, is growing healthy food for her family.
Back in her home country Esperanza wanted to have a career. She went to college and studied business. When her husband decided to move to the US in search of better employment opportunities, Esperanza didn't want to follow him. But then she realized that staying alone with her daughters didn't feel right. About a year ago, she moved to the US to join her husband. At the beginning, she struggled to find a sense of community and to access healthy food for her family.
But that changed when she learned about the gardening program provided by Valley Verde. Esperanza had never gardened before, but her daughters were so enthusiastic about the program that she decided to take a chance. Valley Verde helped her plant a garden and taught her how to take care of it.
Esperanza now has two beautiful garden beds, and she is able to provide high-quality, organic vegetables to her children. The garden has helped Esperanza's family economically because she no longer has to purchase some vegetables from the store. As importantly, Esperanza feels less lonely, is active and is engaging with others in the community.
"My garden really helped me to feel better and less lonely. I see how my plants are growing and changing every day and I feel good about growing my own food. I haven't bought lettuce or cabbage for the last four months" (Esperanza, 2013).
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