Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 41

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE farming session there twice a week every Wednesday morning and afternoon and Saturday afternoon; anybody can stop by, help out, and take a little food at the end of the day. Jenny Holmes: My name is Jenny Holmes and I’m with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. I’m with the Interfaith Food and Farms Partnership and the Environmental Industries, and we’ve been focusing on how congregations can be part of more systemic change to the food system. So many congregations have a food pantry or donate to food banks. All of that’s good and necessary, but our niche is to help them find ways to connect with local farmers with other organizations to begin rebuilding the food system that creates more justice, economic opportunity, and promotes stewardship of the land. We have done a number of community food system projects, which we usually start with a community food assessment done by the community to find out what its needs and desires are, and then start from there in building solutions. And one of our projects that we did with the FDA is looking at how congregations can use the assets that they already have such as their lands, their buildings, and their people, to help support development of local food systems. And we created a handbook out of that that tells people how they can use their kitchens, their land, to build the kind of infrastructure that we need for more adjusted, sustainable, and enjoyable food systems. Annie Kirschner: My name is Annie Kirschner. I work at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. And our organization—unlike some of the other panelists’—is state-wide organization. But I live and work here in Portland. A lot of workers enjoy being here on the ground, which makes it possible for us to take a step back and look at the big picture, specifically what hunger looks like in Oregon and more broadly, what poverty looks like and how it is experienced by Oregonians. And when you’re engaged in advocacy, the most rewarding thing is that when you are able to make a change that broadly impacts a lot of people, hundreds of thousands sometimes, all in one fell swoop of the pen. Generally what our organization does is advocacy looking at policy. We work closely with our partners at the USDA, the state agencies that run the gamut of those nutrition assistance programs that you heard spoken about. They make sure that those programs are doing a good job of serving people well, but they also look more bluntly at what conditions there are that are making families experience hunger in the first place. So when we talk about hunger, we like to help broaden that conversation so that it’s not only a conversation about food but also about economics because we recognize that hunger is a symptom of poverty. And if we are going to create a hunger-free Oregon, which is our goal, part of how we will achieve that is by being very committed to social justice and to making sure that families 38