Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 42

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 2 - Finberg & panelists have the economic stability to provide the food that they need for themselves and their families. The next level of what we do is to help connect people to resources and the programs that they qualify for. One of those specifically is the Summer Meal Program, so it was great to hear that being brought up. That’s definitely the most enjoyable part of my job when we are gearing up for summer. And that’s a great program to plug into. There’s always need for volunteers. The funding does come from the USDA, but it’s unique in that it’s a community-run program, and it only works if communities step forward and offer to be with it. You are in a unique position here in that, at Montavilla Park, there actually is a summer meal program. Has anyone gone to the park during the summer and seen the line of a hundred to two hundred kids every single day? It’s pretty amazing. I encourage you to get involved if you are here over the summer . . . Karen Bert runs the community center; she would love to have volunteers, I’m sure. There’s also an apartment complex, Broadway Vantage, just on the other side of the interstate. It is a low income affordable housing complex, and parents and guardians actually walk their kids every day up to Montavilla Park to get food. So those are some of the specific examples of our work. There is still a majority of low income neighborhoods that don’t have a summer meal program, and so we work to make sure that there are meals available to kids in all the places where they are, which is very often at home during the summer. And then we more broadly work to connect folks to the SNAP program. College students actually are a surprising group that has a very high rate of hunger. That is partly because of our culture: we’ve made it a joke for people to be hungry when they’re going to college: “Back in the good old days, I subsisted on ramen noodles when I was in college.” It’s become really acceptable for that to be the case for students, and yet we know that it’s very hard to concentrate when you are hungry. And so that’s something that we’re specifically working on. It’s very hard for college students to qualify for SNAP. That’s one thing that we keep advocating to our friends at the USDA, but particularly to their bosses in Congress, to let them know that when people are in college, that’s a really hard time to be experiencing hunger. So those are some examples of what we’ve been advocating for. And we also appear at panels like this and talk to people about hunger. I would love to connect with anyone who is interested in volunteering. Gaudencio Felipe: Hi, my name is Gaudencio Felipe, and I’m representing Mixteca Catering. We started out as a small tamale booth in St. Johns in 2012, and we got connected with Micro Mercantes, which is a nonprofit organization in this community. They are in north Portland. And how they started out was, they would set a group of vendors—they all did tamales— and they would rotate them through the market. I’m not sure they had the opportunity I’m having, but my mother got started with that program, and 39