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

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June 29, 2015

Resources for Refugee Gardens

Planning your church refugee garden

Are you interested in beginning your own church refugee garden? We're sharing these documents created by Arrive Ministries to support your endeavor and help address some frequently asked questions.

Contact a local refugee organization or Catholic Charities to see what programs may already exist and to begin developing relationships with refugees in your area.

Church Garden Models contains a listing of the types of refugee gardens that have been established here in the Twin Cities. There are a number of different ways churches can engage in gardens; you may even come up with new ideas of your own!

Church Gardening Goals provides a list of reasons for churches to create gardens for refugees. These reasons are some of the ones cited by those hosting church gardens and refugee gardeners and are helpful in enlisting support of your local church board and membership.

Church Gardens Sample Guidelines is a list of rules based on First Evangelical Free Church (Maplewood) Harvest Community Gardens model. Many area churches develop a similar list and provide it to gardeners at the start of the season, usually as a part of gardener orientation. First Evangelical Free Church has many years experience of conducting a community garden on a large scale. In 2014 they had more than 1200 plots!

Matters to Consider is a document that has been compiled through evaluations and discussions with existing church gardens. These are their suggestions to others – things they felt everyone should be aware of before beginning a garden project.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ~ Gardening, Food & Faith

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June 9, 2015

Corporate Ag Says They Will Feed the World. Really?

Since agriculture emerged 10,000 years ago, it has been Asian farmer carrying ricesmaller-scale producers who have fed the world. Industrial, high-tech and chemical-intensive farming has only been around for about 80 years, and still today it is small-scale farmers, ranchers, pastoralists and fishers who provide approximately 70% of all the food eaten on Earth[1].

Marketing professionals and lobbyists from Monsanto, ADM and companies promoting industrial agriculture and GMOs [we’ll call that Big Ag for shorthand] have spread a myth, which people of all stripes have swallowed. This myth claims that only large-scale industrial agriculture can feed a hungry world. The myth consists of two parts: (1) More food is the answer to feeding people; (2) Corporate, industrial agriculture is the approach that can fill this need.

First, the myth that more food will feed a hungry world.

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April 13, 2015

Agrarian Sojourn to India & Sri Lanka

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.

Interactive mapyoung woman in Fort Kochi

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January 13, 2015

Training a new generation of farmers

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!

 

photo of kaley and goatIntern 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.

 

esther w goatIntern Profile | Esther Honegger

Livestock Intern

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.”

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November 17, 2014

Homelessness: A "Both, And" Issue

[Thanks to Gina Tonn for this important piece during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. From the ELCA's World Hunger Blog]

 

This week is national "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week."  The recent arrests of several activists in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, over public outdoor meals served to people experiencing homelessness has brought homelessness to the fore of media coverage in recent weeks.  This year, Fort Lauderdale passed a series of restrictions aimed at moving feeding sites indoors.  These include requirements that all feeding sites have toilet facilities and that any feeding sites be located at least 500 feet away from each other.  These new regulations were passed in response to residents' complaints about crowds of homeless people in public parks.  The Fort Lauderdale's Women's Club was a particularly vocal supporter of the restrictions, telling Mayor Jack Seiler that the use of one park as a site for feeding people in need made it problematic for them to hold weddings and yoga classes.

Fort Lauderdale is not alone in criminalizing the public provision of food to people facing hunger.  In the spirit of raising "awareness" during "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week," I want to share with you some information about where restrictions on serving meals have been implemented and what the restrictions are.

The passage of laws making it more difficult, or even impossible, to serve public meals to people was first brought to my attention when my colleague shared this article from National Public Radio with me. My interest was further piqued and motivation to put together this blog post heightened when, a few days later, the sidebar of my Facebook timeline informed me that the arrests in Fort Lauderdale were "trending."

A report cited in the NPR article mentioned above, compiled by the National Coalition for the Homeless and just released in October called "Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People in Need" provides an overview of laws enacted  during 2013-2014 throughout the United States. These laws are categorized in several ways: restrictions on public property use, food safety regulations and community actions to relocate food-sharing events. The report also notes cities that repealed laws of these sorts during the last year, and places that attempted to pass laws but failed. I invite you to read the report for yourself in order to gain a full understanding of the regulations at hand and investigate whether your community imposed or repealed any restrictions.

Looking ahead, homelessness promises to be an issue that continues to demand the attention of federal, state and local governments, as well as non-profit and social ministry organizations. Just last week, Community Solutions, a national organization whose tagline indicates their mission toward "strengthening communities" and "ending homelessness" announced a new campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness in the next two years. The campaign, called "Zero: 2016" will launch in January 2015 in 67 communities across the country. Many of these communities, listed in the press release, overlap with the communities imposing restrictions on meal programs. The "Zero: 2016" campaign is an attempt to accelerate housing efforts, connect people experiencing homelessness with available housing options and create public accountability around the issue of chronic homelessness.

ELCA World Hunger is a comprehensive approach to recognizing and fighting the root causes of poverty and hunger in our communities near and far. One takeaway from my time with the ELCA World Hunger team so far is that we are each a piece of a puzzle and all of the pieces are needed in order to make a dent in hunger and poverty. Yes, we need to change societal structure to eliminate homelessness through more accessible job programs, education and supportive housing, and more robust welfare programs. This is, in fact, the stated goal of many laws against feeding people who are homeless.  Meals, some argue, create dependency and do little to help people gain access to long-term financial independence.

But we also need to support people who are suffering now. I believe we are called to be advocates of both serving meals to those who are hungry and finding ways to prevent hunger and homelessness moving forward. People who are hungry have a need for food, yet laws such as these are also borne out of need, such as residents' safety. What does it say about who is part of a community when some neighbors are treated as threats to safety or decorum? How are we called to balance different needs within a community?

 
Gina Tonn is a Program Assistant for ELCA World Hunger through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

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