By Calondra McArthur, WhyHunger’s Communications Coordinator.

To recognize National Food Day on October 24th, WhyHunger spoke with partner organization Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard (MHC) about their participation in Food Day and the work they do 365 days a year. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, located in Bloomington, Indiana, shares the belief that food is a basic human right and works to ensure that all people have access to healthy, whole foods while providing opportunities to build self-reliance. Below, Stephanie Solomon, Director of Education and Outreach, gives her insight on the importance of Food Day and ways to get involved at any time to positively impact your local food system. 

mother hubbard's cupboardPlease tell us about your role at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.

I’ve been at MHC since 2007 and during that time I have been involved in pantry operations and nutrition, as well as, garden and youth garden programs. I’ve seen MHC grow from a food pantry to an organization that serves as a complete food resource center for our community. Now, as the Director of Education and Outreach, I oversee the education programs (nutrition, garden, youth garden), pantry outreach, and our free lending library of gardening and nutrition supplies, the  Tool Share. It is important for us to not only be involved with supplying emergency food, but focusing on advocacy and policy reform for long-term change in the food system.

How did MHC participate in National Food Day?

We partnered with the Bloomington Food Policy Council to host our “Pie Fest” event that included pie baking demonstrations, fruit tree planting, care demonstrations, and a pie-in-the-sky community food summit to identify problems and brainstorm solutions critical to our local food system. Our goal was to inform the community about our available programs and services, and spark dialogue that created open conversation with input from everyone about how we can better support those struggling to get food on the table. Essentially, it was a wonderful example of how food can bring people together for a greater good.

This year’s Food Day focused on food access and justice for food and farm workers, why do you think this is important?

I think it’s very important to increase awareness on the link between those who provide and serve our food and their fight for a living wage. It’s critical to making strides in eliminating hunger and poverty, and in the larger conservation of food justice, food and farm workers can get left behind. Making that real connection helps in the advocacy for change.

What efforts have you seen in your community that are making a difference and can be replicated elsewhere?

In our community there is a concentrated effort to increase the amount of people growing their own food. The Bloomington Community Orchard is a public fruit orchard that is open to all, not just people with low-incomes, that provides free fruit and gives planting demonstrations. We also work with the Local Growers Guild, which is an organization that works to support small farmers by encouraging seed bulk buying and providing workshops and farm tours. I believe that providing education and networking with farmers are key things that everyone can do to pull resources together and strengthen the local farm community.

What are simple actions that people can do to better support their local food system?

Grow some food on your own, even if it’s just a couple of herbs in your kitchen and really get to know your local farmers to understand what their needs are.

Thank you for your time, Stephanie! Learn more about Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard at www.mchfoodpantry.org. 

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WhyHunger staff, along with board member Jen Chapin, participated in the People’s Climate March recently held in New York City. Organizers estimate that over 400,000 people participated in the 6+ hour march and over 160 countries across the globe planned events and marched in solidarity to advocate for international action against climate change. Click through the slideshow below for photos and quotes from the day.

For more on why we’re getting involved in the climate change conversation, check out the Food Security Learning Center topic Climate Change and the Food System.

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By Bill Ayres, WhyHunger’s Co-Founder and Executive Director. This post originally appeared on Care2.

remember when the music

WhyHunger ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award Winner Yoko Ono Lennon is presented with a drum by musician, activist and Hope North founder Okello Sam for her lifetime commitment to activism and the fight against hunger. Photo by Mark Von Holden.

I remember as a young man marching in numerous civil rights and anti-war marches. The music was enlivening, inspiring and kept us focused on the cause, not any danger that might arise. When I went on the March on Washington in the summer of 1963 numerous artists such as Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Odetta, and Bob Dylan touched our spirits and moved our hearts. Eventually, we moved the president and Congress, and the law of the land actually changed. Since then I have interviewed more than a hundred artists on my radio shows and worked with dozens more in the battle against hunger, poverty and injustice. Music has a power unlike any other medium to move people to action and the reflection needed to make the actions meaningful.

Harry Chapin, the author of “Remember When the Music,” was not only a songwriter and dynamic live performer. Harry and I co-founded WhyHunger in 1975, and it has continued for 39 years despite his tragic death in 1981 in a car accident. Every other concert Harry performed was a benefit to fight hunger. No one else in the music business had ever been that generous. That was only one dimension of Harry’s involvement as a hunger champion. He gave numerous talks at colleges and high schools, and he was the leading force behind the establishment of the Presidential Hunger Commission under President Carter from 1978 to 1980. He lobbied numerous senators and members of Congress to secure its passage, and then attended every meeting. He also worked hard to influence other artists, like Kenny Rogers, to join the cause. Over the years our organization, WhyHunger, has created numerous programs and organizations that have helped connect millions of hungry people right here in America to nutritious food and changed the conversation from charity as the answer to economic and social justice as the true direction. The root cause of hunger is poverty and the root cause of poverty is powerlessness. Charitable hand outs are appropriate for emergency situations but do not promote self-reliance and food justice.

Continue reading on Care2.

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Last month we hightailed it to the Southern Westchester Food and Wine Festival, a showcase of the area’s top restaurants. We had a blast at SoWe 2014, engaging with attendees and getting to sample some amazing food. Many thanks to our friends at SoWe for inviting us back for the second year and giving us the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for WhyHunger’s programs. See more photos from the event at the WhyHunger Facebook page.

sowe 2014 sowe 2014

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