The High Holiday season is over for the year, but we are still flying high (um, pun intended) by the amazing projects, events, thought-provoking Shabbat dinners, and other community initiatives that happened over the course of September as part of our Inspire Service campaign.
All around the country, people stepped up to make a difference on the food justice front. Now, we’d like to share a few of those stories. Next up: Matthew Renick of St. Louis, Missouri (and a recent Repair the World fellow in Philadelphia) volunteered on an Inspire Service program. Here’s his story.
How did you get involved with Repair the World’s Inspire Service campaign? What drew you to it?
I was a Repair the World: Philadelphia fellow in the program’s inaugural year (2013-2014) before starting law school at Washington University in St. Louis last fall. At the end of the fellowship term, I learned that [Repair the World’s Special Projects Director) Jamie Zinn was moving to St. Louis as well, so I looked forward to participating in Repair’s national campaigns as a resident of St. Louis. During my time with Repair, my service was more focused on education and youth issues, but some of my favorite volunteer experiences outside of my daily responsibilities were related to food justice. When this opportunity came up, not only was I excited to volunteer with a food justice organization, but I was also intrigued by the opportunity to make my high holiday experience more meaningful.
Tell me more about the project or event you were a part of.
One group volunteered with Gateway Greening to help beautify the Webster Rock Hill Ministries Community Garden. Webster Rock Hill Ministries is an organization that provides emergency social services to those in need, and Gateway Greening provides resources to community and youth educational gardens across the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. The group cleared litter, weeds, and fallen leaves, then spread wood chips and delineated walking paths throughout the garden. Webster-Rock Hill Ministries relies on its garden in its mission to build community. Recently, the garden was redesigned, and the work we did helped lay the foundation for what will be a beautiful, newly redesigned spring bloom. We also helped make the garden a more welcoming place with the addition of clearly laid out walking paths throughout.
What was the most inspiring aspect of being a part of the campaign?
The most inspiring part of the campaign was the discussion we had while on a lunch break during the garden beautification. Marilyn, the garden leader for Webster-Rock Hill Ministries, gave the group some more insight about the food distribution services the Ministries provides. The group then listened to a story on food waste and dumpster diving from The Moth Radio. Jamie also provided the group with a couple of Jewish readings.
I felt the discussion we had put the teachings of the text in conversation with Marilyn’s work with Webster-Rock Hill Ministries and the notions on food waste brought up in The Moth piece. We thought broadly about waste, grocery stores, food donations, and government regulation of the food industry. Relating it all back to the high holiday period, we discussed what it means to choose to fast versus what it means to have to fast, why we fast, and the reflection period fasting affords us during the holidays.
Find out more about Inspire Service, and learn how you can get involved with future campaigns here!