By Hannah Henza
On Thursday, September 18th, I had the unique opportunity to attend a gathering of 200 activists and organizers from across the United States as they discussed the state of farming today. This was an event to kick off Farm Aid 2014 in Raleigh, NC. Sitting in an open space, surrounded by new faces, our discussion was opened by Reverend Dr. William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP and Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC. He spoke on what it means to talk about morality in an activist context. How does the state of our nation affect the community, the farm, and the individual? What does it mean to live in a “moral crisis” he asked. His answer was that “when you pit two vulnerable communities against one another, that’s a moral crisis.” This framed the entirety of the weekend for me. These words were spoken as he discussed the Farm Bill and SNAP/EBT benefits for low-income individuals. He discussed how these two populations, low-income households and farmers, are made to choose politically between one another, when they should be encouraged to unite with the idea that everyone has a right to access healthy food.
I was incredibly inspired by his words and find myself blessed to be working on the Come to the Table Project with partners that are doing exactly what he’s talking about — uniting farmers and low-income folks in a common cause: healthy food access for all. Good work is happening here in NC as unity is found in the field, from the dirt to the pavement. Farm Aid was a chance to showcase and reflect on that energy. All weekend I listened to the voices of communities from across the state amplified and lifted as person after person inquired about my work, excited about uniting these two groups, rather than turning them against one another.
About the Author
Hannah Henza is Come to the Table’s Special Events Coordinator. She developed and led our first series of regional learning tours across NC in 2014, providing the opportunity to see faith based hunger relief efforts in action.