On March 4th, NY Faith & Justice held an introductory workshop for faith leaders in NYC on faith-rooted organizing. At this workshop, Lisa Sharon Harper from NY Faith & Justice and Alexia Salvatierra from www.faithrooted.org spoke about discerning “kairos,” or the time God has appointed for actions to occur (this is in comparison to “chronos/kronos,” which is what we normally think of when we hear the word “time”).
It seems to me that now is God’s time to seek food justice in New York City. Now is the time to help people of faith and other community members to understand that not only are there social structures that make it difficult for people in low-income neighborhoods to find and afford healthy food, but there are also opportunities for faith-based communities to address this injustice (Fred Bahnson, a previous IATP Food and Society Policy Fellow, wrote about this for Sojourners in 2009).
There are opportunities to speak up and proclaim that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food, and that everyone deserves to know how to prepare these foods so that they can make healthy meals for themselves and their families. There are opportunities to learn how to develop relationships with local corner store owners and let them know that their community wants healthy food. There are opportunities to tell elected officials who care about their constituents’ health, what policies and legislation would help make communities healthier. And there are ways to bring knowledge about nutrition, cooking, and the food system to people who have never been exposed to this information.
We have a New York State Senator, Gustavo Rivera from District 33 in the Bronx, who recently launched the Bronx CAN (Changing Attitudes Now) Health Initiative. The next Bronx CAN event, which will focus on nutrition, will be held on Saturday, July 16, 2011, at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center (3101 Kingsbridge Terrace in the Bronx) from 1:30-3:30pm. Just yesterday, Bronx Health REACH’s new website launched, which has a great deal of information on its programs and downloadable resources on nutrition, diabetes, and health disparities. Bronx Health REACH’s new national faith-based health website also launched.
AND the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability launched Change By Us – NYC, an online social networking platform for civic engagement! Right now Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice has two pages on this new site for its food justice working groups, Business Outreach and Food and Voter Education. The Business Outreach working group is focusing on raising awareness about the NYC Department of Health’s Adopt a Bodega toolkit, and providing some technical expertise as to how to go about making corner stores healthier. The Food and Voter Education working group (in collaboration with Bronx Health REACH) seeks to educate faith communities, schools, and community groups about how to access fresh food; connect people with information about nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals; educate faith communities, schools, and community groups about legislative issues affecting NYC’s food system; and educate elected officials about the food system and public health, and communicate with them about food-related legislative issues.
The other working groups include: Community Engagement, Incentives to Purchase Healthy Foods, and the Food and Farm Bill. The Community Engagement working group is trying to foster more involvement in community gardens. The Incentives to Purchase Healthy Foods working group is getting ready to survey members of faith-based organizations about awareness of and ability to purchase healthy foods, so as to make informed recommendations to elected officials. And the Food and Farm Bill working group is focused on developing materials to educate faith communities and the general public about what the Farm Bill is, how it affects all of us, and how we can work together to advocate for the 2012 Farm Bill to include legislation that benefits the health of people and the environment.
As you can see, the food justice working groups are working on bringing a wealth of information and opportunities to the forefront so that it is easily accessible for all. We invite you to join us during this exciting time as we seek to bring God’s kingdom to earth and ensure that everyone has access to food which will nourish their bodies and their souls – the same fresh, minimally processed food which supports the health of not just people , but the planet. With this in mind, here is some information about upcoming meetings of the food justice working groups:
The Food and Voter Education working group will be collaborating with the Food and Farm Bill working group to create educational materials about the Farm Bill, and will be having its next meeting on Thursday, July 14th from 6:30-8:30pm at Judson Memorial Church (234 Thompson St. in Manhattan).
The Business Outreach working group will be having its next meeting on Tuesday, July 19th from 6:00-8:00pm, also at Judson.
We hope you can join us!
Here is the updated contact information for the working group leaders:
Business Outreach – Anne Heartness email@example.com
Community Engagement – Eugena Simpson firstname.lastname@example.org
Food and Farm Bill - Ryan Brown email@example.com
Food and Voter Education – Kelly Moltzen firstname.lastname@example.org
Incentives to Purchase Healthy Foods – Jaime Gutierrez email@example.com