By Jonathan Baca, Staff Reporter
Project Feed the Hood will be hosting a free screening of the documentary “A Place at the Table” followed by a panel discussion, in partnership with CNM’s Healthy Meals Fit for Life Program and the School of Business and Information Technology.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct 23, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., in Smith Brasher Hall, room 100.
Project Feed the Hood, , the food justice campaign of The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP),, started four years ago with the goal of raising awareness, educating, and organizing with communities to address food insecurity and the structural inequalities in our food system, Stefany Olivas, Biology major and SWOP organizer, said.
“These organizations are not only about raising awareness, but also taking action, and doing things in the community to make real change,” Olivas said.
SWOP teamed up with Active Voice, a media group that supports social justice issues, to screen the film, she said.
SWOP selected Albuquerque as part of a nation-wide campaign Yto “prompt communities to delve into the social and political roots of food insecurity,” according to activevoice.net.
“There are so many great organizations doing this work right now, and we partner with lots of them. It’s all about building these relationships,” Olivas said.
“A Place at the Table,” directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, follows the lives of a Philadelphia mother, a Colorado fifth-grader and a Mississippi second-grader, as they struggle with the uncertainty of not knowing where their next meal will come from, according to activevoice.net.
The film shines a light on the huge number of low income Americans who do not have access to affordable, nutritious food, and who are struggling daily to feed themselves and their families, according to activevoice.net.
The film also highlights various food banks and charitable organizations that are fighting to help these families, and discusses the challenges they face, as well as some of the larger social issues that create these problems, Olivas said.
“People are struggling, it is overwhelming. But there are a lot of people committed to change,” Olivas said.
The panel discussion following the screening will feature local professionals and community leaders, including CNM Psychology instructor, Nariman Arfai, Ph.D, Olivas said.
The talk will focus on the unique challenges that New Mexico faces, including some of the country’s largest “food deserts,” which are areas where healthy foods are hard to find that have very high numbers of dietary diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, Olivas said.
“New Mexico is unique. We have lots of problems; racial issues, economic inequality, that creates food insecurity,” Olivas said.
The goal of the event is not only to discuss the problems, but also to show people ways that they can get involved in the solution, and to help them connect with their communities in ways that will truly make a difference, olivas said.
“Things like getting involved in the local food system, whether it’s by supporting local business, local farms, or a community garden. Taking action immediately,” Olivas said.
Project Feed the Hood runs a community garden in Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights, as well as a new farm in the South Valley, as a way to share healthy, organic food with Burque residents, she said.
“We partner with local schools, to teach kids gardening and eating healthy,” Olivas said.
The farm also helps to raise money for SWOP by selling the food they grow, she said.
As part of the screening, Active Voice asked each city that participated to include a project encouraging people to take some type of direct action in their community, she said.
So on Oct 30, Project Feed the Hood will be knocking on doors in the neighborhood surrounding their community garden, to invite people to a pumpkin smashing event, as part of an effort to make the garden a gathering place for families, she said.
Another important part of SWOP’s mission is working toward change through political action, by helping to create new legislation, working with policy makers, and mobilizing communities to support new bills, according to SWOP.net.
Last year, the Chronicle covered SWOP’s success in helping to raise the city’s minimum wage. Olivas said the National Farm Bill will be important to our state’s future food security.
“It addresses issues not only for farmers, but also for low income families trying to feed their kids, their parents and themselves,” she said.
Olivas said that too many people are unaware of the issue of hunger in America, and when they start to learn about these problems, it can seem daunting.
“It is definitely a tough battle. It’s always been a battle and it will continue to be, but we do have allies and we’re building new ones every day,” Olivas said.
But through Olivas’ work with SWOP and Project Feed the Hood, she has been amazed to discover how large and how strong the activist community is here in Albuquerque, she said.
Olivas said she finds it very encouraging to meet so many people who are committed to working for change.
“The people are reacting, with equal and opposite force. It’s changing, slowly but surely,” she said.
For more information, visit swop.net, projectfeedthehood.org, and activevoice.net.