Food Justice in Appalachia and the US South Workshop

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On August 3rd and 4th, 2018 the Food Justice Lab hosted a group of scholar activists.

The two day workshop fostered discussion on the legacies of racial, gendered and economic marginalization in the food system and how the food justice and food sovereignty movements relate to the unique place based opportunities for reclaiming a right to food in Appalachia and the US South.  Wish we could have had more time together but friendships were forged as we laid the foundation of what we hope to be a fruitful partnership in the coming years. 

Participants:

Front row (left to right): Priscilla McCutcheon, Cynthia Greenlee, Spencer Moss, Jonathan Hall, Amanda Marple, Heidi Gum, Catarina Passidomo, Angela Babb, Mehmet Oztan

Back row (left to right): Thomson Gross, Jed DeBruin, Eric Sarmiento, Monica White, Alanna Higgins, Josh Lohnes, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Laura Johnston, Elly Engle, Jerry Shannon, Bradley Wilson

Not Pictured: Cynthia Gorman, Rob Simmons

Farm Bill

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https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/politics/house-rejects-farm-bill-despite-wv-congressmen-s-votes/article_44d947c8-71b7-582b-bcf6-089485c2417f.html

WV Secretary of Agriculture believes a version of the Farm Bill, recently killed by the house Freedom Caucus, will be good for West Virginia. Ken Leonhardt spoke both the bill’s proposed work requirements for SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) eligibility, as well as the continuation of specialty crop grants and other less controversial provisions.

As Jake Zuckerman at the Charleston Gazette-Mail writes, the bill’s funding mechanisms would likely leave many current SNAP recipients out of the job training programs meant to accompany the work requirements. Below you can listen to Food Justice Lab Phd candidate Joshua Lohnes frame the Farm Bill a bit differently than we are used to.

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Field Note:

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5/21

Parkersburg pop-ups

The positive energy and abundant sunshine from our trip to Parkersburg two weeks ago broke through our bleary-eyed early-morning malaise only minutes into the drive to reconnect with our friends at the Point Park Marketplace. The meeting promised a chance to put our heads together on rolling out an action packed calendar of events that will  bring a ton of fresh produce to the Parkersburg community. All in attendance were eager to begin forming a collective imagination for what pop-up markets can be and mean to seniors, children, and families in Wood County.

 

It was fun to see how new connections in that community are beginning to form and this meeting was a great chance for us at the lab to think about how grassroots organization can emerge at anytime. By the end of the meeting, smaller groups had formed naturally around the three types of pop-up markets that make up the calendar. We are excited to continue coordinating with these groups as they dig deeper and discover new opportunities in working together for a more just and equitable food system in their community.

 

Field Note:

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May 7th, 2018

Produce Possibilities in Parkersburg

 

Monday morning we hit the road early to meet with the Wood County Nourishing Networks  working group in Parkersburg, WV. Spring sun,green hills and red buds created a shared feeling of possibility for supporting food system change in Wood County. The ten member Nourishing Networks working group  met at the Point Park Marketplace to discuss next steps in planning new healthy food access projects, especially for low income and vulnerable populations.

 

After consulting on the outcomes of their March 9th workshop, the group quickly coalesced around coordinating with area growers and building a calendar of pop-up farmers markets for children, seniors and community members. With few known growers in Wood County the group was keen on exploring creative ways to incentivise greater participation among local and regional growers to supply Parkersburg with fresh produce. A whole slate of strategies were discussed including subsidies, contracts and marketing support. Local leaders are now working to establish a coordinated pop-up market campaign for Summer and Fall 2018!  The Food Justice Lab is energized by efforts to both integrate ideas into existing programs and to collaborate across organizations to improve access to healthy food! We will meet again in two weeks to determine how to utilize funds to fuel the wonderful healthy food work happening in Wood!

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