Come to the Table Piedmont promotes hunger relief through faith and community
Community members from across the Piedmont joined university faculty, staff, and students to explore the role communities of faith play in relieving hunger and supporting local farms, during the Piedmont North Carolina Come to the Table Conference on February 18-19 in Benson University Center.
Friday workshop topics ranged from Food Production 101, to Interfaith Perspectives on Food, andFederal and State Farm Policy. Saturday’s agenda was filled by a number of field trips to community gardens, farms, and businesses that support the agricultural economy of the region.
Conference participants included faith organizations, interfaith groups, local non-profits, small farm owners, community members, and campus organizations from around the Triad.
Two of these campus organizations – Campus Kitchen and Wake Saturdays – joined community partner El Buen Pastor, a local “for social profit agency” that benefits the Latino community of Winston-Salem, in a panel discussion titled “Campus Kitchen: Students and Agencies Combating Hunger.”
The panel provided an excellent forum for community groups to learn about the positive actions students and others have taken to fight hunger in neighborhoods just outside the university bubble.
Shelley Graves-Sizemore, director of the university’s branch of Campus Kitchen began the forum with a brief overview of the programs sponsored by Campus Kitchen including the university’s innovative partnership with The Fresh Market.
Graves-Sizemore describes the Campus Kitchen philosophy as “focusing on using waste food as a resource.” Owing to this ethos, university volunteers – mostly students – managed to save 16,000 pounds of food from landfills last year. This food came from kitchens on the Reynolda campus and various businesses in Winston-Salem, including the Reynolda Fresh Food Company and The Fresh Market. The raw ingredients and prepared un-served meals are imaginatively recombined into complete nutritional meals for community members.
Senior Amy Liang who serves as a “bridge” between Campus Kitchen and Wake Saturdays, reflected at length on the importance of community in her service work. Though both of her main service projects are food-centered – Wake Saturdays distributes lunch to over 100 homeless men and women each week – she said “it is more about the relationships than the food.”
To this end, Liang was integral in creating a homelessness awareness campaign and art exhibition on campus last fall. All artwork and poetry was created by homeless men and women with whom Liang works through Wake Saturdays. “Homelessness is not Faceless,” allowed Liang to share the personal relationships she had developed with the wider university community to bring the reality and humanity of hunger home.
Senior Josh DeWitt, an Office of Sustainability intern, and leader of Wake Saturdays, echoed Liang’s sentiments about the importance of relationships. After describing the details of Wake Saturdays, DeWitt explained the importance of his experience. “The closer we are to someone or to someplace, the more we care and the harder we work to make things better,” he said.
By Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern