Cultivating the Food and Agriculture Movement (Conversation at the 2018 Food Tank DC Summit)

Cultivating the Food and Agriculture Movement (Conversation at the 2018 Food Tank DC Summit)



well hello everyone thank you so much for being here today as you can see we have a wonderfully exciting and diverse group of ladies all ladies up on stage to discuss the food and agriculture movement with you today and given that these women work in with so many different communities both around the country and around the world I thought we would kick it off today with a quick discussion of sort of how they go about working in the various communities where they do you know a common criticism of the good food and agriculture movement is that it tends to be relevant to people of a certain socio-economic class and to a certain extent and to a very specific cultural and political background so I'm curious if you guys can tell me a little bit about how you you know broaden that tent so to speak and include more communities in the movement and in your work and I will let whoever wants to start start you're looking at me Maura so I'm sorry but I'm pretty loud and hear me yeah so I work for the chef and foundation we help schools transition from process highly processed eat and serve food operation to a cook from scratch operation then that affects the food systems because when you start cooking in schools you're able to procure individual ingredients you're able to procure better ingredients you're able to procure local ingredients when you're when you're purchasing processed food you get you know you get a chicken nugget with 30 ingredients you have no control over where those ingredients came from the way that it works with us is that you know we have programming in every state you know we work with almost 9,000 schools we a lot a lot of people ask us to support schools that have a 50% or higher free and reduced rate so those are kids who are on the free and reduced program that come from families that earn less than forty four thousand dollars a year for the most part what we find is that in school food reform the most important factor is how willing the community and the administration is to create change so the the support for low-income families and low-income communities to us even though I would say the majority of our schools we work with have a 50% or higher it has to come second because change is so hard that you have to be able to have the buy-in from the stakeholder group to create it so it's kind of like a union ouyang a little bit and if you don't mind I want a tech team since the room is next to one another so I'm Tamara this is little Wanda and I thought we needed to have girl representation on the panel since we're talking about next generation so for me little Wanda was really inspired by my daughter Ruby at age four she had a cavity in preschool and I had as someone who has worked in nutrition championing for healthy school lunch I thought surely when I talked to the teacher she would be on the same radar but that was not the case junk food is still much a reward in many schools across America and even in my own school and that was a problem for me that as she shared I can bring oranges for my daughter but how I do my class that's pretty much my thing and I didn't take that lightly that really kick-started me to create Wanda about how do we create a front line of foofy female food fighters to help speak up for our children and not only that motivate our children to also be these food heroes that we need within the field of nutrition I think the Academy nutrition Dietetics has about States 2.5% members of African descent yet in our communities we died 25 percent of the heart disease that impacts our community which is basically number one heart disease homicide number eight by CDC you wouldn't think that when you look at the news and to me as someone who's into public health nutrition that was a big big problem for me that I grew up in Oklahoma in a military town so I think very much like you know defense how do we prepare a better line of defense and that means arming our communities with the nutrition education with the cultural food access not just any food but we understand the diversity in the ranks of our profession is equally as important as diversity in our diets and therefore for why do we not only champion women and girls and apps in the Diaspora but in Africa but also the heritage foods of those communities and so that's why I saw the need to make act cool again by creating a new girl character kind of like the door they explore for Africa meets doc McStuffins for nutrition that when we think about I mean think about it when I looked at what my kids were viewing there is no character that is dedicated to nutrition and that was an opportunity I saw I was trained in health combat test but to me none of this meant anything if I was not putting these skills to something that I was passionate about and so that's where creating the first really bilingual book series that focuses on little Wanda with her magic apron traveling to Africa meeting with female farmers learning about their local foods how to heal her Nana's diabetes in this first book as she goes to Nigeria around making that really what Conda that we want to see in the world and that meant having this very opportunity that women are in girls are key drivers in creating the unity and the healing that our community needs I mean look who starts wars do you see the little mondo star so it really is about how do we heal a mill and we cannot separate the mill from the women behind it when we look at the data that we make up majority of the communities make in terms of the world's population and agriculture but I beg you if you go to google and you put in african women agriculture what are the images that pop up you would think that it's still plantation days little Wanda wants to be the Beyonce of nutrition that's not looking like a cool image to say hey I want to sign up for that so we have to make it look cool and that means putting our kids on the front lines like little Wanda to drive that change that we want to see it needs a makeover and that's what we're here working to do that amber can I ask you a follow-up on that I mean can you tell us a little bit more about how you know what sorts of policies or you know educational classes can be in place to sort of increase representation the way that you want to see it increased that is such a million-dollar question for me I formerly worked in government and now serve on the Food Policy Council but we literally need to create the public will to create a new new agenda in America right now we're working on establishing a strong relationship with one of the largest nutrition societies in Africa about how to reform a new US African nutrition agenda what that means is not only this idea that if you look at USDA and NIH they set five-year research agendas where they've invested in Latino foods Asian foods a lesson in dewitt foods but if you look up the population demographics after Americans make up about 13 percent yet we have no investment in our foods from a from a diversity perspective not everybody eats soul food and if we want to go there we're eating we need to be going back to the original soul food what they ate in Wakanda so yeah clearly I'm like what kind of so with that that means how do we build a grassroots coalition effort of organizations who say oh I'm about changing marginalization issues in these communities well I need you to be won't signed up for a new policy agenda and say USA NIH why is African Foods not on that list to be invested in with we have the ago agreement and plate we can literally build consumer demand create economic opportunities I'm the continent therefore reducing the youth economic issues therefore decreasing the need to get into Boko Haram this is a national security issue at the NJ that we're talking about I speak to this as a board national security scholar yes is cute to talk about little wanna but the bigger agenda is really formulating policy and collecting the data on the role that African foods play into our health and economic opportunities so if I'm meeting with the NIH chief which I did a few weeks ago and they're developing new research protocols and they're not including African immigrant populations let alone African immigrant foods this is a clear-cut problem because the data creates dollars we know that that's why Mediterranean diet will continue to be on the agenda every year in US news which I wrote about that is well on my LinkedIn that if we don't bring another conversation about what other diets are out there we're perpetuating food culture imperialism and that at the end day we'll continue to create this utilize racism that we covertly overtly play into everyday and that is a cheap table we're ready to like march on NH lead the way that's fascinating I'd like to take a step back for a minute and talk about children specifically how you interest children and and young people of in these issues and Cecily is wondering if you could kick us off because of course FoodCorps does amazing work in this space thanks yeah so food core the organization I co-founded is we work to connect kids to healthy food in school and we do that primarily through a 225 person AmeriCorps program in eighteen states across the country in the u.s. kids get about a thousand hours of academic instructional time about three and a half of those hours are dedicated to nutrition education less when you're talking about AG education and I think it's that's pretty pathetic when you consider that we all eat every single day I don't do algebraic equations every single day I do not recite the Gettysburg Address every single day although I learned it once in sixth grade but we eat every single day and we don't use the opportunities we have through both our educational system and our school meal program where we feed you know millions of children as and as an opportunity to teach them and get them engaged in understanding the types of food that they're putting into their bodies so I think it's about quantity but I think it's also about quality and it's not just about saying here's my plate and here's macronutrients and you should learn the specific ratios that are going to give you optimal health per the NIH standards that as Tamara was just saying are not necessarily representative but it's about you know food is essential experience and we need to be using our senses to understand and learn about it and we need to be giving kids opportunities to do that too so they need to taste that they need to touch it they need to grow it they need to smell it we do that through you know school gardens through cooking classes and really we see the results I mean in places where there's high degrees of hands-on education around food kids are eating three times as much fruits and vegetables on their lunch trays as in places where that kind of education is just getting started or doesn't exist that's that's it that's massive when you're talking about a generation that feels connected from their food source and I think I just said to say one more thing about it I mean I think from our perspective when you're when you're talking about diversity and you're talking about trying to expand that and to bring more children along with education about food and nutrition that it really is about representation and it's about showing that it isn't about a specific way to eat or a specific menu but it's about food that is wholesome it's food that is authentic and culturally relevant to people and that is familiar to kids in that way and that that's where we see kids getting excited you don't we can't walk into a school you know in on the White Mountain Apache reservation in Arizona where we work and say let's all drink kale smoothies and and think that we're gonna get anywhere and so it's really about finding those appropriate and relevant ways to speak to kids about food that speaks to their family speaks to their culture and their heritage and so we're doing elk jerky instead at the White Mountain Apache reservation so I just I think that there's you know there's so much opportunity for us to be looking to our educational system and asking the questions about why are we not educating kids about the things they really need to thrive in this world for their entire lives not just for their standardized testing that's fascinating could you actually tell us a little bit more about some sort of how you tailor the program to different cultural groups yeah I mean it's we work in 18 states across the country so we work in Downeast Maine which is on the border of Canada we work in rural Montana or here in DC or in Detroit where as I said in a lot of Native communities in the southwest we're in Los Angeles so you know we know that there are some fundamental truths and ways in which we need to be approaching education around food and I specifically say food and not nutrition because it's really important that kids understand that nutritionist is food and that we introduce it to them in a way that they are familiar with it and so you know we work with we're networked with a lot of all partners and local schools and it's really important to us to figure out how can you how can you bring broad lessons that are true up for everyone but really introduce them in a way that take into account the cultures and the histories and the availability of food whether it's because of the community or it's because of the ecosystem or the weather or what you know the growing season so we want we work with our service members to train them to be thinking about all of those factors and contexts as they're working with their students it's really about creating an engaging experience it's not about saying it has to be done in a specific way make sense so can I bring you in you you do not work with kids you work with young adults but I'm curious how you get them really excited and interested in issues that might not be on their radar otherwise yeah absolutely and I think what especially was saying about educating young adults in my case about what they need to thrive is really important at our levels because at the store for the food pantry on campus here at George Washington for students faculty and staff but our primary audience is students and unfortunately the way we get them engaged is out of necessity because currently 22 percent of under undergraduate students eat less one to two times a week at least because they don't think they have enough money to eat and while GW has a unique food plan and sort of for context we sort of have a debit card kind of system rather than a traditional cafeteria but that's a unique system but it's not a unique problem like college students all over the country are experiencing this lack of resources or lack of education because we're we're expecting them to operate like adults and we're throwing them into these systems where they're operating on their own they're managing their finances largely on their own especially first-generation college students but we don't provide the resources that they need to thrive as adults and I think that's a big gap that we're trying to address with the food pantry but we also need to we're addressing education as well because currently we have almost 700 people shopping at the store but that means that there's a large community that needs to be educated and I think that's something that's missing because college students come to college and like for the large part a lot of people don't know how to do laundry so how are we expecting them to manage their own budget and realize that I only have X amount of dollars per day so I need to figure out what I need to buy and things like that so we're trying to engage them that way and try to provide solutions so we primarily work on social media to try to educate and we try to do sort of our own version of the BuzzFeed tasty videos almost with food that's in the store so it's accessible to them in that they can make meals with healthy food and we're trying to expand that but I think that's a great way to get young people involved because everybody is on social media right now in some capacity and granted it's lowered our attention spans a lot but I think at least speaking from personal experience and from my peers I think if you see things enough time on social media it sort of starts to kick in and I think tasty videos are so successful because you see them everywhere and I think maybe those kinds of videos with healthy food and promoting locally sourced food is really important because then people start to realize oh I can make these awesome dishes with food that supports my communities and I think even a resource on campus our Dining Plan allows us to shop at the farmers market that's like down the block but not a lot of people know about it but it's a great way to use the money sensibly while giving back to our communities it sounds like the key is really reaching people where they are right whether that's on Twitter or wherever else and can you tell us a little bit about what your organization is doing with education because you have kind of some interesting projects in the works right yeah I'll take a step back I work at the intersection between food and climate and we are working to build awareness that there is an intersection between food and climate and so we started about four years ago learning that there's this growing body of scientific knowledge on carbon draw down so agriculture affects climate in two ways one is agriculture is responsible for about a third of the missions in the atmosphere but agriculture through photosynthesis plants breathe in carbon and when our soil is healthy and when we create agricultural systems that support carbon drawdown we can actually take carbon out of the atmosphere so agriculture can be a huge climate change solution and we started in how do we translate this very scientific maybe super boring message to make it engaging and have many many more people engage in the movement so we started in filmmaking and then we added an educational curriculum which is meets science standards it's for middle schoolers and it goes along with our films and the goal is to teach carbon that there is a carbon cycle we've all heard of water cycle but we teach carbon cycle along with photosynthesis so that you're getting more of a holistic idea of the problem in the solution that's fascinating and what is the response been so far from from the kids who see the video yeah well when you've asked that question my first thought is my son's response he's now eight but when the video came out he was six and we had we turned the camera on him and had him retell the carbon cycle as a six year old and he was like so yeah plants and carbon and they do this thing that's really amazing and you should buy solar panels like where we're trying to say emissions and you know emissions erection and we tickets all over but the the curriculum were just launching it so we tested it in each schools we tested in a variety of different schools so we did a homeschooling we did a private charter public just to get feedback we got a lot of feedback and we're revising the curriculum but it will be available nationwide open source totally free and right now our goal is to create partnerships in every state and in order to release it in the spring so cool let's talk a little bit you know we've been discussing education and sort of the awareness building side of things I'm hoping we can talk a little bit more about policy we are in Washington DC and this is a farm bill year I don't know if any of you guys weren't aware I'm curious what each of you is hoping to see from lawmakers this year not only on the specific issues that you're each focused on but I'm sort of more generally speaking when we talk about food and agriculture and Maura I'm gonna start with you again okay well there's a lot I think we're all hoping to see but we don't have hours here so we're gonna have we're gonna have to cut it down for for me you know the the legislation around school food which is still kind of the governing legislation which was supposed to be renewed as a childhood reauthorization the childhood nutrition reauthorization was supposed to be renewed in September of 2015 so that was that kind of got locked up in in partisan politics and you know now we're kind of hoping for some support in the farm bill you know from our perspective you know we believe there needs to be more funding for school lunch I mean right now schools have about if they're cooking from scratch the schools we work with so we we have programming in every state of the country the schools we work with have about a dollar twenty-five to spend on food costs okay it's the other the reimbursement is around three dollars and thirty cents half of it goes to labor or a portion of it goes to administration and then they end up with about a dollar 25 to spend on food that's really tough you know I mean think about dollar 25 and the kind of quality food ingredients you can use so more more of that we we need to see some more funding for equipment grants because what happened you know the reason were in this situation the reason why schools are serving processed heat and serve food because we went through this a period where that was the transition in school districts and now they don't have the equipment to cook and that's a huge investment that's you know we can get schools to budget-neutral so you can cook from school we can help schools get to a cook from scratch program and be at a budget neutral state meaning that if your school or your district is telling you I don't have enough money to create a cook from scratch program that's just not true we do it all over the country what is hard is the investment upfront if you don't have the equipment it's very hard and that usually takes sometimes a bond measure sometimes gifting from communities but it could also be in their art there is some support from the government for equipment grants so we need to see more of that not in the farm bill but from a legislative perspective you know one of the things that really excites me as if you guys have noticed it and I think we just saw some of the latest coming out of New York is that different states are in communities and even metro areas are supporting there are adding subsidies to their reimbursement for their schools and for their districts so if you are purchasing locally there is an added reimbursement so so 98 percent of the public schools are part of the National School Lunch Program part of the federally Redoute NAM a federal reimbursement program but in addition to that some states are adding to that reimbursement based on what you are procuring locally and I think that's a win for everyone right so that's that can show you so that brings schools to cook from scratch right because if you're you're not if you're ordering processed food then you're not procuring ingredients if you're procuring ingredients then you can procure them in your own state in your own community and so it's an economic win for your community for your state and it's a win for your schools and for your districts and for the kids ultimately tech team I would say if there are four key issues that USDA governs to keep an eye on and not be distracted by one is safe super tracker for those who may not know they've taken it down by the summertime and for anyone who's in nutrition who sends their clients or uses it for themselves to come up with quick nutritional analysis on meal plans that it's a free USDA supported online database that would not be available so that's one number two I would say USDA school Wellness Policy when in play we're basically in the next three years if schools are not on board they will be in non-compliance status and could be potentially penalized the beauty of school Wellness Policy is making sure that all kids have not only access to nutrition education that you create the school environment that I shared earlier that the teacher was not on board and be able to ensure that we have wellness activities that are school-wide we promoting basically a more well-being environment for children to thrive in and not just in one particular classroom but the whole school being on board for that so that needs to be continuously at on priority and also supported here in DC aussi just awarded the first nutrition Eid grant like that is something that had not ever been done before that is to make sure people on board of making sure school wellness is in plate the third is ethnic crop block grant programs UDC is one who has been able to implement use it to help support West Africa and vegetable programs and making sure that communities have access with pick-your-own if they come and grab you know from the bow-wow from the jute leave to the the hibiscus the okra like all African eggplants like being able to grow right here in Maryland for the community to pick and learn how to grow and number four is the commodity box like we all seen the headlines and make America hungry again we really do not need to go that route and so if any I remember in my lifetime growing up in Oklahoma sand the government cheese I have PTSD I don't want to go back to that life so I think it's really important to make sure that we create a sense of dignity as we move forward around food security issues what does that look like and making sure that people have access to govern themselves make their own agenda if we're saying government's not supposed to be in the hands monitoring people learning world weed coming back to this commodity box it makes no sense so those would be the four things that are relevant to this farm bill in my opinion and okay because I'm gonna just like ditto ditto and a couple of things I'm gonna say – they're not farm bill and then I'll talk a little bit about the farm bill but on the child nutrition reauthorization another key program that needs to be expanded as the community eligibility provision and what that does is allow for low-income communities above a certain threshold to just serve free meals to the kids in their schools and not have to worry about who's getting reimbursed who's paying who's not who's you know and it cuts down on paperwork it cuts down on stigma and it streamlines everything massively and I would just say school food unfortunately is a business it's the only business thing that we do at school we the only thing we try to turn a profit on at school and I would argue we gotta get to a place where school school meals are not as business we're not trying to make money on the backs of our kids but until we're there let's expand programs like community eligibility secondly the every student succeeds Act was the first time that the federal government acknowledged that health and wellness play a role in student success and it was the first time that the federal government invited States in as they put together their state educational plans and their accountability measures to include health and wellness as a way to measure schools so we need to keep up the drumbeat there and keep schools thinking about health and wellness and food and nutrition as part of the key things that get kids ready to to succeed academically as well as just as as people with the farm bill you know I think there I want to just recognize that actually in the last ten years a tremendous amount of good things have happened around food and ID policy many of them are thanks to people like Kathleen Merrigan who is hosting us here and the work that she did at USDA to expand programs for local and regional procurement expand farmers market programs expand nutrition incentive programs and now these are codified parts of USDA which is awesome farm bill is what governs that and we need to keep those programs really really strong I was so excited to see chellie Pingree here earlier today I am a very proud Manor and I am also very boastful that chellie Pingree is my representative so I get to go and vote for her every two years and I do so I like love filling in the little circle because she really gets it she knows these issues she's a true champion for them and you know she's a farmer so she understands it from the ground up she spoke a little bit around a piece of legislation called the local farms act Farr farming and regional markets apply see how they did that act and this is an act that is basically sort of setting the tone for some of the farm bill discussions and is really focused on the local and regional programs within the farm bill and improving those expanding those making them more accessible to more people a broader diversity of people communities and people who have not had access to programs at USDA in the past it includes things like the local food promotion program the farmers market promotion program the nutrition and Senta programs the Food and Agriculture service-learning program like there's tons and so I would ask all of you because I see many of you on your phones right now that if you are interested in supporting that Congress needs to hear from you they're hearing from this is a time in our society where there's an unprecedent amount of civic engagement and our representatives are listening to us because they are scared to lose their seats in 2018 so I would say for all of you who are interested one small act you can take around farm bill and supporting local and regional food systems is pull out your phone texts FoodCorps fod cor ps2 oh and word two five two eight eight six that will get you on to our advocacy platform and right now we're running a campaign to support the local farms act and to get all of our representatives signing on and I'll say one more thing about this which is that not only am i proud judge Shelly Pingree as my representative but I am very in this moment proud of my congresswoman Republican senator Susan Collins who has signed on as a co-sponsor of the local farms Act and I think her leadership in this issue at a Senate level is showing that building thriving local agricultural communities where people and community members can have access to that healthy food is not a partisan issue and it shouldn't be a partisan issue and we need to make sure that our legislators know that it's not a partisan issue I'm glad that you brought that up so it's actually an issue that I wanted to ask you guys about I mean you mentioned that the past ten years have been great for the food and agriculture movement and we know that's because there were politicians and administrators who were very supportive of this movement we're in a different time now would we say particularly when it comes to things like climate change right particularly when it comes to anti-hunger policy I'm curious you know how that change in political climate changes your advocacy work and also sort of your your outlook your optimism for what can be done during this period and anyone can take that who wants to I just want to jump in click on that so once because this because there's there's hope there's hope out there so one of the things that we have noticed from a school food perspective is that we're getting to a tipping point so when the new administration came on and you know there was a lot less focus on healthy school food school food reform we you know we kind of what what was being said was the Healthy hunger-free Kids Act the most progressive nutrition legislation that ever ever came to school food I was was not what communities wanted they didn't want that and we were gonna start seeing the the administration put push back on that so I'm really proud to say that we have more schools that have applied for grants from the chef man foundation today on a weightless than we ever have before so schools on their own would regardless of what's happening legislatively regardless of who's pushing them to do what he wants healthier food and they want to create change and so so you know what's happening is that there's now private and public partnerships going on that are taking the place of where government was pushing it before and that is healthy in some ways so you know if you are part of a school or a district that is looking for change we currently have we currently have two grants open right now so if salad bars are open if you want to apply for salad bars in your schools you can we also have to get schools cooking grant that's open until the end of the week which is a three year program that takes districts from process to cook from scratch with a lot of equipment grant funding in it and support so there's still ways to get there and and I think what's what you're seeing is private public come in and support the on the middle road and just attach as we honor the last day of Black History Month I must have to recognize the role that Black Panthers played in even creating school mills in America and therefore in answering your question about what can people do people should do what they've always done mobilize organize create the change that you want in your own communities I didn't necessarily see that enough the government-run school in my own backyard therefore why I created Wanda how do we mobilize women who may not necessarily felt that they had a voice on this issue that they can become a Wanda woman and be able to create the change that they want to see so that means arming them with the tool kids with the resources around how to create that bilingual child nutrition education that you want to see in your community and be able to activate our girls to be little Wanda's and that there are organizations out there and if they're not create the one that you want that's the beauty of social entrepreneurship so in the age of where government may not always be on the side of where you want in terms of supporting social protection programs we have to create that we see that right now in Brazil this is a phenomenon that's not just here in America that we go through ways where we build social protection programs and cut them we see the value why we need to bring them back as what's happening in West Virginia right now and so this is just a cycle that for those who are dedicated to the fight your fight will always be ongoing because there's always the adversary and the storyline in your hero's journey and so that's what we're all about stay the fight yeah there's a really great quote that says citizens start and government follows so can't stress civic engagement enough as you can tell the farm bill has a lot in it it's like a almost a five hundred billion dollar pot of money that gets allocated over five years it includes everything from school lunch programs to better Wi-Fi in rural communities so farmers can access but our markets to our commodity programs and crop insurance so the way our crop insurance works is farmers pay for crop insurance and then they can get reimbursed for a large amount of the cost from the US government but on the farming side we've been kind of focusing on the the nutrition and food side on the farming side you know we would really love to see farmville go back to its roots farmville was created because of the Dust Bowl what was the Dust Bowl it was we had heavily degraded our soil so much so that dust from the Midwest ended up all the way on the White House lawn and they said okay think we need to do something about our soil and we're I don't know if you've toured rural farmland in the u.s. recently but it's really not looking good we have heavy soil degradation everywhere and whether it's sexy or not healthy soil is the foundation of healthy life on this planet we all eat every animal relies on soil every human animal relies on soil to you and so we'd really love to see healthy soils and send of ice there are seven states who are working on Carbon Farming initiatives prioritizing paying health farmers who are building healthy soil drop drawing carbon under that atmosphere farm mill could adopt similar practices right now with farmville we're looking at about you know the top earning farmers which are corporate farms they're like the top 10% of wealthiest farmers get like 80% of the subsidies and so it's a really unfair system that doesn't prioritize small holder farmers medium scale farmers it doesn't prioritize people young people trying to get into farming so there's so much I mean we could spend days and days on the farm bill but it would be great if we could go back to our roots with healthy soils it would be great if we could really help the crop insurance program it'd be great if we could have the government invest more in our education programs instead of having corporations investing in all our farmers education programs so there's there's a lot there and there's a really great representative from Oregon Earl bloom in our and he has like a 28-page beautifully easy-to-read document on history of farm bill and what could be updated it's definitely a vision for like where we could go I don't know if we'll make it this time around but it's something just drive for that everyone could check out and digest that's awesome I think we're gonna turn to some questions from Twitter really quick and then maybe we'll have a minute or two for a quick audience question and we had two very similar questions when it's from tom clutter in Lincoln Nebraska the other from Tori Ian Powell right here in Washington DC and and both these individuals would like to know what can be done to promote more diversity in professions that are related to Agriculture's they say that's farmers dieticians social workers etc I'm gonna start with you yeah yeah so another policy that I learned it literally takes an act of Congress to change for those are familiar HHS they have the National Health Service Corps program that program basically deploys health troops in the ground and role medically under-resourced communities friends of mine who've been piays RNs MDS for whatever reason the nutrition profession was not at that table and therefore if you wanted to deploy people in Anacostia cordosa Heights here in DC or remote places in Oklahoma or whatever that is not possible and so that's important when we think about school loans repaying back those loans by working in these communities that if that is not happening at the federal level will not support it similar to the tobacco settlement why cannot change happen at the local level county by county to say you know what we want to create more people on the front line fighting this issue around nutrition and that means creating a student loan repayment program therefore will wipe off your loans if you're dedicated to public service around Agra nutrition in these communities to me that's a way that you can champion in diversifying the pipeline I would sign up yesterday to get my loans written off and therefore if we can't get that done under this administration put the frameworks down so you can get ready for 2020 I think it also to go back to like our original question the first question is just about representation and we like everyone has to see themselves in this movement if we're gonna win and we haven't done a good job and it's not because those stories and voices and people aren't out there doing this work it's that we haven't lifted them up or shone a spotlight the and I you know brought it up earlier that this good food movement is criticized for being white and elitist and wealthy and I'm not going to say those criticisms don't have a basis but it's not like there aren't people working on this stuff and they have been for generations in communities across the country and around the world and we've just to narrowly defined what that is it's not about like bringing more people in it's about redefining the boundaries of what in means and finding ways to to show up where those folks are and provide pathways you know it's there's a lot of opportunity and I think we just need to kind of open our eyes and think a little bit differently like there's you know the minorities the manners and I'm in a I'm gonna mess up the acronym but it's the minorities in Ag and natural resource Sciences is a huge organization across our country young people you know in college and graduate school who are who are getting degrees in Ag and natural resource Sciences and we need to be showing up where they are at their conference that's coming up in a couple of weeks and recruiting them and helping them to find pathways for careers and opportunities in the good food movement and so that's that's out there we just need to be yeah and right now there's a soda out event that the Arboretum is holding called nature wild black and it's it's interesting that you know there's gonna there's like a who's who black and AG environmental issues are occurring right now here in DC I didn't know about it until I talked to another friend who's the director of groundworks and that you know it's like an underground improvement I would have to say for me just even though I you know trace my heritage you know back in terms of learning you know my family were Agron ORS in Oklahoma have hundreds of acres wasn't really connected I mean if we call it out slavery definitely played a huge role that the imagery when we think about Aunt Jemima ain't my mama kind of situation didn't really want to have me drawn into the kitchen or kitchen rape stories that I learned during plantation days all these play a historical context of why some are either being able to fight through this noise when there's nothing else providing a more positive landscape and so for me that's reason why I'd go back to the pre-colonial piece around Africa where as you see in Wakanda where we were kings and queens and being able to highlight them being the queens and kings of greens and beans and we promote that with little Wanda because otherwise if we were to work on the current narrative that's perpetuated no one wants a sign up for that army and therefore it's about using the power of storytelling and imagery literally we had to create our own photo shoot with Wanda women because we had to show the striking imagery that we wanted to see that was not currently available out there so to me that's part of this process as well the policy the promotion the positioning of people in a way that they're obtaining and owning their own power to create the change that you want to see if I could jump in on that I think I can't speak a lot to farming but I think especially with the nutrition in schools I think representation is a lot about not talking for people and bringing the people that we're talking about and we're advocating for into the conversations rather saying oh I heard from someone that this is an issue bringing them into the conversation having them speak about it and like I know at the store like we're working with not advocating for or like not talking for shoppers we're like asking what do you need to see and I think more and more like owning your powerlinux saying this is an issue this is what I'm experiencing and this is what we need to see to change and this is what I want to do to change and I think as advocates like our role is to like help build those people up and like learn from them and like help them own their power and like together be more powerful and is that something the store has done from the beginning I mean how did you sort of realize that that was the best approach yeah so we realized last year so we had a different executive board last year than we did this year and I think we were more conscious this year about bringing shopper voices onto the executive board and bringing a graduate student onto the Executive Board because a third of our shoppers are graduate students and realizing that we can't address those needs as mainly sophomores or juniors in college that we need to make sure that our Executive Board the people that are making these big decisions are representative of the people that we're supporting and we have feedback forms and we do have communication with shoppers and people who are outspoken come to speak with us and we have a form that shoppers fill out every time they go into the store saying how was your experience what did you see like what did you take what do you want to take like what do you want to see what would help you most address the issues that you're experiencing and we have a wide range of shoppers our main focus is anonymity so we don't ask anything from shoppers other than their email and their ID number so they can access the store but if shoppers are more outspoken they'll come to us and talk to it and if they're comfortable with that but we don't ask them to reveal identities or anything like that but we do were more vocal this year about getting them into the conversation and making sure that we're not just having this resource that isn't as effective as it could be that's fascinating and and leads well into our next question here which involves fighting hunger and this viewer would like to know what resources can help youth best learn youth that would imagine they also mean sort of advocates more generally best learn about the importance of culturally relevant foods and fighting hunger what sort of resources are out there for people who want to know more about that copy of where's Wanda geez and so part of what we're talking about is creating the programs the products available that's currently not out there it's one thing to plug-and-play you know a bit of diversity into programs but literally you have 54 countries on the continent plus the Diaspora you can make that into a whole year's program but we wouldn't know or think that with this monolithic narrative here only in the West and for anyone who's a global Trotter like you get it and so those are the people that I speak to about how do we bring the rest on board for us we have a campaign Africa Day is May 25th so we have a 25 by 25 campaign about how do we get little Wanda to the original Wakanda in Ethiopia and create the next book which here in the US here in DC were the number one Ethiopia has been outside of Ethiopia and so creating bilingual book series around each country and highlighting women in those countries and sharing that knowledge here is critically important and bridging that gap and making sure that you know Wanda which is a talking dog is in the hands of as many girls and boys under their Christmas tree I mean once that that me people may not know doc mcstuffins was equally popular with boys and girls and I seed the same case for little Wanda as well and to have a girl character that's soft and cuddly that you can sleep with and you can wash and take the battery out I mean what does she say so she basically shares the AV ABC she basically shares like the ABCs of African foods so everything from Mikey to Val Val to coconut to dates to goosey to jackal Barry and working on an ABC book to go along with it so kids what we do what we've done is partner with Miss Africa USA going into warty schools we are will be at MOCA Elementary next week to kick off national insertion month sher afro eats along with afro beats I mean it's very popular wizkid David OH Tiwa savage like how do you take those beats and pair it up with the foods and so that's a level of creativity that we explore in highlighting women and girls in our wanda's world that we want everyone else to join on to the food journey so cool I think we maybe have time for like one audience question is that a thing we're doing if anyone has a question you might have to shout there's someone in the back right by the door hi thank you so much I work for the International Rescue Committee for their food and farming programs that focuses on refugee and Asylum populations here in the United States so everything that you've talked about today so far has been exceptionally relevant for me and I wanted to ask you all if you can share a little bit of an example from your experience and how we can use data research and narratives and you've talked a little bit about that already to help amplify our voices very important issues around food and farming I just I mean I think like for us at food core we are a pretty data and evaluation of heavy organization it's been really important to us from the get-go because we know that our program model we're never gonna reach every single a hundred thousand school and in the country with our program model but with our impact and the lessons that we've learned we can help to shift policy so but I also just want to I want to say too that I think that data evaluation done well is incredibly valuable for the people who care about that and that those people are often decision-makers so I'm not trying to undermine that it's incredibly incredibly important and valuable and you know we work with nonprofit organizations and groups across the country who aren't able to prioritize it or don't have the funding or it's just not part of the way they do business because they're about serving their community and and and we really encourage them and blend our resources to help support that and share the data that we learn from our partnerships broadly I'm so I do I want to stress how important it is I also equally want to stress the importance of narrative and storytelling and connecting with people on an emotional level and connecting understanding sort of what brings us to this work and why we're here and so I think those for from our learning have been are equally important and you have to you can tie them together you can talk about them separately but they're both super super important and I just want to add that in the work we do it's really important to have data to back up your storytelling but data isn't always compelling especially to a consumer audience or when you want to build participation in a movement so it's nice to have the data to cite but we really need the storytelling component yeah and just to add to that I think you have to know who you're talking to I think to what Cecily was saying you know fir and again with something Cecily mentioned is that schools are using the their food program as a funding mechanism and so one thing that happens is when we go into schools to try and change their food program and move it over to a cook from scratch with a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables the biggest fear is participation decreases so being able to rely on research that shows that average daily participation does not after a certain amount of time does not decrease even when you change your food program is really important to the economic to the people are looking at the economic components of school food so you really you have to that might not make a difference to parents in a community who just want healthier food for their kids but to the CFO at a district it's gonna make a lot of difference yeah and a touch on that Keith Hansen I love them over at the World Bank is able to speak eloquently around investing in nutrition so having that conversation as others shared knowing your audience matters so being able to talk the economic case why you invest in nutrition to Congress and how it ties in to agriculture in creating more job opportunities like that matters in my opinion in this current administration to talk more about trade and economic and national security elements then maybe the health conversation may be more relevant to another audience so that's the beauty of we're lucky because we have so many access points yeah that's what I would stretch there so many access points with you and SPG's you can you can you can talk about your work to people who care about radically different things and get the same fundamental message across definitely that's a great point to end on thank you all of you so so much this was fascinating [Applause]

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