The Food Group hosts a summer program called “Community Food Leaders” that engages people with the food system and deepens their understanding of the role food plays in building stronger communities. This year, our six Community Food Leaders have spent time exploring the ways in which they want to be leaders in their food communities. Each participant is motivated by their own histories with food, and with the way that they see food impacting their lives now.
Val Barnes was one of the participants this summer. She lives in a senior high rise. We asked her how the program benefited her. Val said the program transformed the way she thinks about food. She met many people who are dedicated to producing and serving healthy food. Here are some of her comments:
About her relationship with food
I have a relationship with people and with things I love like art and music, but I hadn’t thought about my relationship with food. But it is the most important relationship you have, besides with air and water!
I was separated from food, and the program reconnected me to the earth and food. The grocery store takes out that connection. If you have a respectful relationship with food, then you’ll put the right things in your body and your body will treat you better.
About visiting Big River Farms and other food producers
We learned about the need for farm workers and all the challenges of farmers. How do people who need healthy food get it? Workers and transportation are two big challenges.
Everybody knows organic food is good, but actually going to the farm is a different experience. You’re surrounded by the great environment and the scenery. The environment contributes to how people feel when they’re out there. Breathing the air and smelling the grass and seeing the insects and chickens. It’s a beautiful experience. It connects you to the earth. It’s easy to forget we are humans and we come from the earth. It felt so good.
About food and community
Food is contagious. I shared food from the Open Arms cooking class (using Fare For All meat & produce) with my neighbors and we had a wonderful meal. We had a community supper and we were able to make potato salad and coleslaw from that box of food. It was the best!
When you bring good food, people feel so blessed and they want to share what they have.