Multnomah Food Summit Addresses Food Justice Locally and Nationally
- June 19, 2012
Story by Abby Warren
Over 300 representatives from non-profits, faith-based organizations, government agencies, educational instituions and concerned community members converged last Friday, June 15th at the Multnomah Food Summit. During the event's opening remarks, the theme of this years summit "Food Justice!" was chanted by all.
Pastor Wilbert Hardy, a long-time Portland resident internationally recognized for leading the faith community in an effort to live healthier lives, reminded the audience in his keynote address that food justice issues are not new. Injustices have been exacerbated by a history of displacement in Portland, and we are now building on the efforts of generations before us to achieve food justice.
County Chair Jeff Cogen gave an update on how far the County has come and how far we have to go to achieve food justice. Cogen led the County C.R.O.P.S. program to grow produce for low-income county residents and continues to advance the Multnomah Food Initiative and Action Plan.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a strong regional food advocate, spoke of the need for a more equitable Federal Farm Bill.
Other contributions to the conversation came from Multnomah County District 3 Commissioner, Judy Shiprack, Weston Miller with the Oregon State University Extension Service, Lisa Sedler, CEO of New Seasons Market, Corliss McKeever from the African American Health Coalition, Larry Thompson of Thompson Farms, and City Commissioner Nick Fish. Participants enjoyed a seasonal luncheon, blessed by Rose High Bear of Wisdom of the Elders, and members of 1,000 Nations led atendees in song and dance during a Drum Circle.
Community work sessions, led by local food activists and organizations, focused on health innovation and environmental change, justice from the grower's perspective, how to measure food justice, active public participation, building local foodsheds, bridging the gap between affordable housing and fresh produce, food as an economic driver, and more.
We in Commissioner Fish's office give a round of applause to the event visionaries and organizers Kat West, Katie Lynd and Sonia Manhas, as well as to all of the fore-mentioned honorable community leaders. We continue to advance important food justice issues through the following initiatives.
City Council recently adopted landmark legislation that reinforces our support for community gardens, market gardens, farmers markets and food buying clubs in the city. This wouldn't have been possible with out many hours spent by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and a number of summit participants.
We continue to streamline PP&R Community Gardens development in areas with limited access to fresh foods, and to work with partners who are leveraging development.
Through our Healthy Portland Initiative we are expanding free-meals as part of our after-school programs and are integrating nutrition, cooking and gardening lessons at community center sites.
Through our Summer Free For All events we plan to serve over 100,000 free, nutritious lunches to children in low-income families in 21 of our community's parks.
We are working with the Oregon Public Health Institute and the Oregon Food Bank to set new nutrition standards at our rec centers and new healthy standards for vendors at parks events like the Rose Festival and Blues Festival.