April 22nd, 2013

Temple Beth-El Earth Day Community Conversation Connects Local Food, Anti-Hunger Efforts

photoOn Saturday, I had the pleasure of joining Little Savannah Co-Owner Maureen Holt, a slow food advocate, for an Earth Day community conversation with Temple Beth-El (TBE) members about local food and anti-hunger efforts in Birmingham.

Alabama has the second highest rate of hunger in the country, and Birmingham has the 12th highest rate of food hardship amongst major metro areas. It is also nationally known for its local food scene.

Thus, I was challenged to connect eating local and fighting hunger. As I followed along with the day’s Torah readings, a passage from Leviticus Chapter 19 jumped out at me: “you shall not favor the poor and you shall not honor the great.”

Exactly, I said to myself. Locally grown produce and farmers markets should not just be for the affluent; in a just society, there should be choices available to all of us, regardless of income.

In order to build food justice, we need many different kinds of people, organizations and businesses within a community to work together to increase access to healthy, affordable, fresh food produced and processed locally.

While many Birmingham residents are familiar with the Pepper Place Farmers Market, WE Gardens and the Eastlake Farmers Market also host regular markets. Eastlake accepts SNAP/EBT and Senior Nutrition Coupons. To find a farmers market near you (or in a community you would like to explore), check out this list from the Year of Alabama Food and this one from the Greater Birmingham Community Food Partners.

Many thanks to TBE Community Conversation Co-Chair and APP Board Chair Joyce Spielberger for inviting me to speak to her congregation. Thank you also to her Community Conversation Co-Chair Toby Siegel and TBE Executive Director Bob Greenberg for coordinating the program.

We are especially grateful to have TBE join our faith partnership with a monetary donation.  TBE’s Earth Day program was sponsored by Dalia & Keith Abrams, Suzanne & Howard Bearman, Chico Bomchel Memorial Social Action Fund, Barbara Bonfield, Barbara & Scott Brande, Cherie & Bob Greenberg, Sheri & Jimmy Krell, Vicki & Art Lewis, Esther Schuster & Allen Shealy, Gail & Abe Schuster, and Joyce Spielberger.

For information about APP’s anti-hunger work, or how your faith community can join APP’s Faith Partnership, please contact me at 205.939.1408 or kscott@alabamapossible.org

Above: TBE Community Conversation Co-Chair and APP Board Chair Joyce Spielberger, APP ED Kristina Scott, and TBE Community Conversation Co-Chair Toby Siegel outside Temple Beth-El.