Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 46

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 2 - Finberg & panelists or Seven Eleven. Most of them are minorities. Most of them are working really hard. They’re working eighty hours a week to keep their business running in their community, and those stores may be the closest places to get food for their neighbors. In one area we’re working in is the Rockwood neighborhood in Gresham, where people travel an average of six miles to get their primary groceries. If some of those stores can have more of the fresh produce available for the immediate neighborhood, it would improve people’s quality of life. Also, it would increase their frequency of eating healthy fruits and vegetables. So they’re looking at working with an organic supplier of some local farmers, banding together to create this buying network. And some small farms could be a part of that as well. So they are trying to find some creative ways to make it more economically viable for small businesses to carry fresh produce and for small farmers to be part of a distribution network that is not so dependent on volume like Whole Foods. JH: Oregon, and specifically Portland, is an interesting place to have conversations about food because we are both known as a place of real agricultural bounty and a real foodie scene. We love our food. There is an amazing array of foods that are grown and produced in our state. And we have a real love for it, and it’s something we’re known for. And yet we are historically a very high poverty state with one of the highest rates of food insecurity. For a time we were the hungriest state in the country. And that is a very ironic set of things for our state to be known for. It is one challenge we have as people who care about food and who care about the food system and food security . . . I really appreciate that the issue of equal access is a part of this conversation because it has not always been the case in our foodie culture. So I think that one gap is just making sure that those things go together and that when we are talking about food security, we’re making sure that social justice continues to be a part of that conversation and being honest about the fact that not everyone has access to that foodie culture; not everyone has equal access to food, and we don’t experience hunger equally. There are certain things that make it more likely that you will experience hunger in your lifetime. And those are things like your race and ethnicity and where you live, what zip code you’re born into. And so I think being honest about those things and keeping it a part of the conversation is really important. More specifically, I think that some places where there are gaps— and I won’t touch as much on things that have a lot of conversation around: gardening, farming, and farmers’ markets—but some other places to keep in mind that maybe aren’t as much of a conversation are schools. We’ve talked a little bit about summer food already. But during the school year in Oregon, currently over half of our children qualify for free or reduced priced lunch. Twenty years ago, it was about a third, so that’s a big, dramatic shift in the number of children in our state who are relying on getting those meals in 43