Archive for : Food Justice

Snapshots from the Jewish Food Justice Movement

This post was created in partnership with Jewish Food Experience, a project focused on bringing people together around Jewish food, culture, and tradition.

What does food justice look like on the ground? That depends on where you are. Across the country, urban and rural communities of all sizes struggle with food insecurity and uneven access and availability to healthy food. But the particular challenges these communities face change from place to place—and the movement shifts in response to those changes.

Repair the World partners with local organizations and volunteers in multiple cities—Pittsburgh, New York City, Detroit and Philadelphia—and on multiple fronts to galvanize food justice movements that reflect and prioritize each city’s specific needs. Recently, we reached out to our food justice Team Leaders, who are working with these communities to get a firsthand account of what food justice looks like from their vantage point. Read on:

What is the most pressing food justice-related challenge in your city?
PITTSBURGH
There are 2 Pittsburghs: the rust belt comeback story people talk about, and the segregation and separation that is keeping blacks, other minorities and individuals living on the margins from being able to access and partake in the “new” Pittsburgh. This affects the food movement as well. Farmers markets, urban agriculture and all the hot new eateries mainly serve the white, wealthier classes of the city. So how does our city continue to progress and move forward without leaving people out? – Greg LaBelle, 25

NEW YORK CITY
Hunger is the most salient food justice challenge for New York City. The high cost of living in NYC doesn’t just prevent people from consuming healthful foods, it straight-up prevents them from being able to purchase enough food. Some government and private programs help alleviate the hunger, but they are not sufficient and have physical and/or psychological barriers to entry. – Sam Sittenfield, 25

PHILADELPHIA
The availability and distribution of healthy food options throughout the city is pressing. Philly is the poorest large city in America. Food resources tend to be concentrated in the wealthiest areas while under-resourced areas have more corner stores (which often lack fruits and vegetables) and fewer grocery stores. – Bridget Flynn, 23

DETROIT
I think the most pressing food justice challenge in Detroit is childhood hunger. In southeastern Michigan, 1 in 5 children is food insecure and over 300,000,000 children qualify for free or reduced lunch in schools. Without consistent access to nourishing food, children and adults are not able flourish. – Erin Piasecki, 25

What role can/should Jewish food advocates play in helping address this challenge?
PITTSBURGH
Jewish organizations and advocates can truly support the people fighting these issues when they understand how best to support the individuals and groups that need help. It is crucial that we not overpower the people who need help and not diminish the focus on them and their struggle.

NEW YORK CITY
The first thing that we need to do is to educate ourselves. Many of us in the Jewish community come from privileged backgrounds and will never truly understand hunger. We can, however, start to understand the context and how pervasive it is in our communities.

PHILADELPHIA
I have seen Jewish food advocates help to make positive change in the food justice sphere by listening to community needs and providing the resources to fill them. A major part of ally-ship is active listening before taking action. Jewish texts can also be used as a tool for food justice education.

DETROIT
Jewish food advocates have tremendous power to keep hunger, and particularly the plight of hundreds of thousands of hungry children, in the public eye through awareness raising campaigns, food drives, and other volunteer driven initiatives in their communities. By supporting and collaborating with longstanding institutions advocates can amplify and concentrate their fundraising and other efforts to eliminate 21st century hunger.

Find out more about Repair the World’s food justice work, including #SupportforRefugees, a Passover campaign focused on the global refugee crisis, and how you can become a future Repair the World fellow. Big thanks to some of our wonderful local food justice partners: Grow Pittsburgh, Keep Growing Detroit, Jewish Farm School in Philadelphia and Hunger Free America in NYC.

Tractors over Touchdowns: How One Football Player Became a Food Justice Hero

Football players, like most professional athletes, live glamorous lives. With contracts regularly topping 10 million dollars, they can afford to. But what if one of them decided to give up the cars, the glory, and the worship of thousands of fans to become a…farmer.

Meet Jason Brown. At the age of 29, after spending seven years as a professional football player, Brown decided to trade in his helmet for a bundle of hay. As self-taught farmer (he watched You Tube videos for instructions on the basics and consulted with other nearby farmers), he launched First Fruits Farm – a faith-based agricultural operation that grows food to be donated to food pantries. He has already given away tens of thousands of pounds of food and he has no plans for stopping soon. (If the notion of giving first fruits sounds familiar, it should – it is a concept found in the Torah.)

Brown and his family took an incredible leap of faith to make such a radical life change. Asked on CBS why, he said two beautiful things. The first: “When I think about a life of greatness, I think about a life of service.” And then, “Love is the most wonderful currency you can give anyone.” We kind of love this guy.

In other news, Brown also recently delivered his own baby when his wife went into surprisingly fast labor and the midwife couldn’t arrive in time. So, yeah he’s mensch.

Check out the video for more of his remarkable story.

How to: Rock Hunger Action Month with Repair the World

September is Hunger Action Month -30 days dedicated to fighting against hunger in our communities. It is also the month of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the two most sacred days on the Jewish calendar. Coincidence? Maybe. Opportunity? Definitely.

This year, in conjunction with Hunger Action Month, Repair the World’s Inspire Service campaign is focusing on food justice. Throughout the high holidays, September 13-23, we and our amazing team of movement leaders are cooking up all kinds of events and opportunities to help people make our food system healthier, more sustainable, and more just.

There are tons of events going on, from garden plantings at local schools, to delivering for Meals on Wheels, to volunteering on an urban farm. To get you psyched, here’s a snapshot of four events working with food banks in Feeding America’s national network. Food banks play a huge role in closing the hunger gap. They provide people in need with nourishing food and support when they need it most. Here’s how you can help:

San Francisco: On Sept 16, volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank warehouse, sorting and packaging food to be distributed to food pantries across the city.

Kansas City: On Sept 10, help food pantry clients shop for Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish Family Services food pantry.

Pennsylvania: On Sept 24, help stock the West Chester Food Cupboard, a food pantry based in West Chester, PA.

North Carolina: On Sept 17, volunteer to help sort, inspect, and pack food for distribution at the Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, NC.

Don’t live near one of the events listed above? Don’t fret. Check out this nifty map to find an event in your community, and help Repair the World Inspire Service this September and beyond!