Welcome Athan to Come to the Table!

Athan Lindsay, Come to the Table's Faith Community Outreach Coordinator, in a North Dakota field.
Athan Lindsay, Come to the Table’s Faith Community Outreach Coordinator, in a North Dakota field.

My name is Athan Lindsay and I am excited to join the Come to the Table project team as the new Faith Community Outreach Coordinator. Although I am new to RAFI’s Come to the Table work, I am familiar with RAFI’s storied advocacy to ensure that family farms remain sustainable.

I am a North Carolina native who is excited to be back home, engaged in work that mobilizes its people to build a more just and caring community for all. Especially when this means ensuring that all North Carolinians can eat healthy, just and sustainable food. My recent experiences living in rural and isolated communities in the Northern Plains have pushed me to become more concerned about food insecurity and the interconnectedness of food production, distribution, public policy and our access to healthy food.

Joining the RAFI team gives me an opportunity to draw upon some of my past work in philanthropy, connecting unlikely partnerships of concerned citizens that lead to collective action and philanthropic investment towards effective community problem-solving.

It was a matter of the heart that took me to the prairie in a far away place called North Dakota–my wife, Cori, is from North Dakota. My time living and working in a rural North Dakota community of 2,000 residents challenged me to expand my perspective and understanding on how food does or does not get to our tables. The reality of having to drive a 100-mile roundtrip to buy food tends to change one’s perspective on the issues of food accessibility and food insecurity. My family was fortunate to have reliable transportation and enough household income to cover the additional fuel costs to reach our regional center for more retail grocery options existed. But this wasn’t the case for many families in my community.

Eventually, these trips to the grocery store become an exodus trip for many younger families. When there simply aren’t any places to obtain food or the effort to obtain food is too burdensome, it further compounds the issue of hunger and food accessibility, especially in rural communities. As more of the population moves to the suburbs and urban areas, it forces small grocers to close, leaving rural areas at a greater risk of becoming food deserts. This leaves the elderly, the poor and the young families more vulnerable to unhealthy outcomes related to hunger.

Athan Lindsay tends to his hogs.
Athan Lindsay tends to his hogs.

I have been fortunate to learn from a number of inspiring folks dedicated to the communities where I have lived, including a dynamic cooperative extension agent, a Lutheran minister, organic farmers, sustainable livestock producers and local market organizers. This collaboration is testament to the power of working together.

I am eager to apply this experience to my work in North Carolina with RAFI, to explore how the intersections of food, faith and relationship-building can move us forward as a community to address hunger and food accessibility as a justice issue. For me this work has greater meaning as an act of discipleship to serve one another and do unto others as I would want them to do unto me. I look forward to joining you at the table and in the journey!

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