Feeding Our Families forum talks food justice issues

At a community center in Inglewood, about a dozen people came to attend the Social Justice Learning Institute’s Feeding Our Families forum.  They talked about food justice, the idea that all communities should have access to healthy, affordable, organic, locally grown and culturally relevant food. 

Inglewood is considered a food desert.  This means that most people live more than a mile from a store that could provide the community with healthy options.  Communities that are far from food sources have higher obesity rates, diabetes rates and heat failure.

Panelists sat at a white, collapsible table at the front of the gym.  Community members faced them on blue folding chairs, arranged in two semi circles around the speakers.  The sound of rain pounding outside echoed dully through the auditorium.

The panelists included Trina Williams, a advocate for education and a member the Inglewood Unified School District Board of Education; Megan Bomba, a project coordinator with the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College, and; Julie Sheppick, Director of Communication & Fund Development for Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS).

Together with facilitator Danielle DeRuiter-Williams, the Social Justice Learning Institutes’ food justice coordinator, the three panelists discussed how to bring more food choices to Inglewood and how the community can get involved. 

The bottom line, agreed the panelists, is the push must come from within the community.

“You have to start where you at, use what you got, do what you can,” said Williams.

During the question and answer portion, the intimate group started a conversation.  They shared personal experiences and challenges when it comes to eat healthy foods.

Adriane Banks came to the meeting because changing her diet improved her life.  She has lost 40 pounds through eating healthy and walking with her kids.

Barry Hargress happened upon the auditorium while on an errand.  But he stayed for the forum.

“My son gave me an errand,” he said.  “I’m supposed to pick up a box of chocolate donuts on the way home.”

He said he wants his kids to eat better.  Not him, he’s a lost cause.  But he wants better for his children.  People chimed in to give him advice with his kids and said he should also push for a healthier lifestyle for himself.

An elderly woman in a leopard-print hat also chimed in.

“I come to a lot of community meetings,” she said.  “This is the first time I’ve ever stayed longer than 15 minutes.  It’s also the first that I’ve seen a group that’s committed to doing what they know is the right thing to do. “

The panelists praised the community members for coming and having so much passion about food justice. 

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