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Food Access Event Goes Virtual

The course ENV 299 “Food Access in Literature” served up virtual “food for thought” on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 in the event entitled Hungering for Change: A Live Q&A on Food Access.” Originally intended to be an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, this event was reworked into a virtual forum by Dr. Sylvia Grove (Modern Languages), Katie Turek (UCARE), and Kate Keppen (Office of Sustainability) when COVID-19 made having the event in-person not possible. A recording of the event can be accessed in the Ursinus Digital Commons.

The event featured speakers Tanya Weaver, Executive Director of American Foundation for Children with AIDS (Harrisburg) and Caroline Harries, Associate Director of Healthy Food Access at the Food Trust (Philadelphia). Student moderators Margrethe Leis ’20, Kyra Clark ’21, and Sarah Fisher ’23 led the discussion, which featured questions about local concerns over healthy food access and global concerns regarding the intersection between nutrition, medical care, and agency in light of war or famine.

Aiden O’Malley 22, who attended the event commented, “I thought it was great that these programs displayed that it’s not just about supplying food and necessities to those who need them, but rather teaching [individuals] how to…support themselves in the long run.” Classmate, Molly Blume 23, also agreed, “I thought it was really awesome that the American Foundation for Children with AIDS are teaching families to garden rather than just handing out food. Gardening truly is an extremely important tool that ultimately supplies someone food for their life I hear so many stories of companies needing to purchase and distribute food to families in need, but never even thought of this simple but much needed solution to solve this really important issue.”

COVID-19 was also on everyone’s minds. Attendees asked about food sovereignty during pandemics, and Tanya Weaver discussed a new project at the American Foundation for Children with AIDS called Operation Honey Comb. The project will place handwashing stations in various high traffic areas in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Event host Dr. Sylvia Grove summed up the evening by saying, Our hope with this event was to make tangible the impact of hunger on local and global communities. Despite its devastation, COVID-19 is actually a strong opportunity to deepen our understanding of the inequalities in access that exists all around us.

This event was supported by Arts and Lectures, Wismer on Wheels, the Department of Modern Languages, UCARE, and the Office of Sustainability.

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