In fifteen years, we’ve shared over one million pounds of food with nearly 15,000 people, which are numbers we tend to celebrate. In fact, we recently set a record – but not one worth rejoicing. At the end of January, an all-time record 175 families accessed food from our food pantry in one week.
It’s pretty common to treat feeding high volumes of local people as an accomplishment. And in a way, it is. The kindness and generosity of our community has ensured everyone who has ever reached out for food was able to fill a grocery cart. Still I believe, with the transformative kindness of our community, we can do even better.
Over the last year, we’ve been asking some uncomfortable questions: Are there ways we’re feeding the problem? Can we do better than the traditional food assistance model? Is there shame written into our message? One thing has been increasingly clear – words matter and we need to be thoughtful in how we use them.
Without question, referring to strong, resilient people as ‘needy’ is demoralizing.
If your hours are cut, or your car is shot, or maybe childcare, gas, healthcare, utilities, and food are expenses too great to bare – would you look to a group that fights hunger for those in need or one where you can partner to build community through food in a community where your voice is heard and your voice carries?
As we gain traction in the food justice movement, we are committed to using our words to empower people, to inspire people, and to make radical change. The kindness and generosity of the community is more important than ever as we continue moving toward a just, local food system.
We’re confident the difference will look different and inevitably more beautiful if, instead of feeding the needy, we advocate for food justice side by side with our diverse voices in harmony.
It’s hard to believe we’re already out recruiting interns for the upcoming season of Bloom Youth Project. As we gear up for another transformational year, we celebrate the story of 2017 grad, Tania, who will be influential to the next season of youth.
The conventional language around hunger often paints the picture of helpless people seeking an easy answer, which is painfully misleading. We’ve found this language could very well be perpetuating shame and preventing people from accessing food.
In pursuit of words that nourish and empower, that feed the future of food security, and forever transform our relationship to hunger, we’ve discovered some pretty energizing terms that we’d love to share.
Read more about food justice, access, and equity here. These powerful words will guide our work moving forward and help change the conversation around food security in Blaine County.