2013 U.S. Domestic Workshops

Photo (c) by Linda Panetta. Used with permission. Optical Realities

The Domestic U.S. Workshops explored why, in the richest country in the world, nearly 49 million of our neighbors live in households that experience food insecurity, including 21.6 percent of U.S. children. Among African-American and Hispanic communities, childhood food insecurity is more than double that of white communities. Moreover, the U.S. food system harms the environment, abuses workers throughout the food chain, and too often produces unhealthy food.

In identifying causes and in seeking both short and long-term remedies, we explored topics such as: agribusiness, the Farm Bill, food systems, jobs, workers in restaurant chains, impact of poverty, immigration, racial justice, inequality, and food issues seen through a gender lens. We looked in detail at a wide range of issues from generating revenue to individual and community lifestyles.



Corporate and Investor Impact on Global Food Systems

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Faith-based investors provided an overview of how they are advocating for a food system that is equitable, affordable, safe and, importantly, sustainable for future generations. Specifically, they highlighted their work with corporations on food safety issues and access to nutrition. They also shared how they scrutinize the social impact of the assets in their portfolios to address over-speculation or excessive hedging in food commodities markets and the surge in large-scale land acquisition for commercial and/or speculative purposes which erode local development goals and undermine the economic, social and environmental justice of at-risk communities.

Panelists: Nadira Narine, Program Director of Strategic Initiatives, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; Cathy Rowan, Corporate Responsibility Coordinator, Maryknoll Sisters; Kate Walsh, Associate Director, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment


Faithful Budget: A Take-Home Tax Toolkit

You know that taxes are important, but how are they related to your faith? And how can you share this vital message at home? The Nuns on the Bus know that a little bit of fun can take you a long way! The interfaith coalition of advocates – including the Sisters – behind the Faithful Budget have told the President and leaders of congress that “it is time to frame the budget debate in terms of moral choices that are understandable to the American people.” Weaving together spiritual reflection and interactive, multi-media education, we can engage our faith communities in a timely national conversation about our values and our federal revenues. Participants today will receive an introduction to our newest interfaith teaching tool – designed specifically to foster conversation in a small group setting – and discuss practical steps for bringing the workshop to your community.

Presenter: Shannon Hughes, Coordinator, NETWORK Education Program


Faithful Eating and Building Local Food Economies

Explore what faithful and compassionate eating looks like as individuals, families, congregations, and communities. We will facilitate spirited conversation and provide tools for incorporating more fully the spiritual, ecological and social justice aspects of purchasing, preparing and enjoying food – as well as for advocating for local food economies that meet residents’ needs.

Presenters: Anita Adalja, Common Good City Farm; Melanie Hardison, Presbyterian Hunger Program; Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian Hunger Program


Food Insecurity 101 – Hunger in America

More than 50 million people live at risk of hunger in America. The United States is the richest country in the world’s history with more than enough food to go around. Obesity rates are soaring at epidemic proportions. How is it that nearly 1 in 6 Americans, including 1 in 5 children, don’t know where their next meal is coming from? In this workshop, we’ll take a look at the face of hunger in America. We’ll discuss how we measure hunger, unpack the reality behind food access and affordability, and explore causes, effects and solutions to the hunger crisis in America.

Moderator: Christine Melendez Ashley, Bread for the World; Barbara Izquierdo, participant in the Witnesses to Hunger Project; J.K. Granberg-Michaelson, Alliance to End Hunger; Vivian Lucas, Franklinton Center at Bricks, United Church of Christ


Harvesting a Healthy Farm Bill: What’s at Stake?

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The U.S. Farm Bill not only affects our nation’s farms, but rather is the single most important piece of legislation pertaining to food. The decisions we make and the policies we promote in the Farm Bill affect every level of the food system: from conservation and crop choices, to energy production and use, Food Stamps, and rural development. Last year, Congress extended the 2008 Farm Bill for a year delaying needed reform for several food and farm policies. We still have much to do to update and continue support for the Farm Bill so that it promotes a healthy, sustainable, and just food system that ensures enough for everyone.

Speakers: Ferd Hoefner & Martha Noble, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Ellen Vollinger, Food Research and Action Center; and Christine Melendez Ashley, Bread for the World, moderator.


Hungry Children: Stunted Opportunity

Childhood hunger and family food insecurity are strands in a knot of challenges—hunger, poverty, racial injustice, and inequality—that damage children’s lifelong possibilities. Striking and abundant research demonstrates how these conditions thwart opportunity. Why are we not doing what’s needed to solve these problems instead of threatening further cutbacks?

Speakers: Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs; Jan Resseger, Minister for Public Education and Witness, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries


Immigrants in the Food System

No industry in the United States is more reliant on immigrant labor than agriculture. About three-fourths of all hired farm workers are immigrants and in addition to the fruit and vegetable sectors, immigrants are important to dairy, poultry, and meat processing. However, immigrants themselves often work within our system without food and health security. To learn more, join our panel of experts as we discuss the roles immigrants and refugees play in bringing food from the field to our tables. The panel will be followed by small group discussions of how we interact with these migrants as faith communities and advocacy opportunities for congregations.

Presenters: Andrew Wainer, Senior Immigration Policy Analyst, Bread for the World and Father Bill Morton, SSC, Columban Border Ministries, Missionary Society of St. Columban.


The Most Important Policy Conversation This Year: TAXES

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Congress is in the midst of making huge tax decisions right now. These decisions will determine our country’s ability to address hunger and other critically important issues for years to come. Our federal nutrition and anti-hunger programs can’t work if they are starved of funding. Yet, too many people shy away from taxes. But learning a few of the basic tax fundamentals can prepare you to engage forcefully on this issue as it relates to hunger and the common good. This workshop will review basic tax policy through its impact on hunger, examining critical issues like the deficit, spending cuts, and tax increases. It will explore changes in tax law that could boost revenue, reduce inequality, strength the social safety net, enhance opportunities, help the environment, and bolster the economy. We will explain the current tax debates in Congress and ways you can make a difference in these critical decisions.

Speakers: Ellen Nissenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Edie Rasell, United Church of Christ; Gideon Bragin, Office of Senator Sherrod Brown


Where Food Justice and Gender Justice Intersect

Where do women fit into the picture? Come join us as we use a five step Gender Analysis Tool to express proposed changes that will bring about gender equality and benefit us all, specifically in relation to food justice. Grassroots practitioners will share their experiences in food justice and how they connect to gender. In small groups, we will examine the EAD legislative ask to give participants the skills to lobby their representatives in D.C. and at home.

Workshop Facilitators: Rev. Venice Williams – Director of Alice’s Garden in Milwaukee, WI and SeedFolks Youth Ministry, Executive Director; Jennifer Bailey – Graduate Student at Vanderbilt Div. School, Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach Specialist at Community Food Advocates in Nashville, TN and past Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, DC; Staff from USDA (invited); and Members of the Justice for Women Working Group of the NCC


Working and Still Poor: Why Hard Working Americans Can’t Put Enough Food on their Tables

Millions of U. S. workers work hard for too little pay. Even worse, their wages are routinely stolen. People of color on the bottom of the pay scale are especially impacted by these sinful practices, but they are not alone. You’re invited to explore two issues: Wage Theft and Minimum Wage. You’ll actively participate in learning the dimensions of these problems and acquire organizing tools to address the long-term public policy implications. Lacking just regulatory and legislative protections for hard earned income means workers cannot put good food on the table for their families. A compelling simulation will help you gain a deeper appreciation of how hard it is to make ends meet on a minimum wage job.

Speakers: Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow, Interfaith Worker Justice; Michael Livingston, Interfaith Worker Justice; Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder & Co-Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center United



Topper Photo (c) Linda Panetta. Used with permission.

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations