Growing a Row for Joe & Flo

Background: Kitchen Table Activism (KTA) is a monthly activity by the Rural Organizing Project. The idea is that small actions can lead to powerful collective results when groups of people gather to complete the same action across the state of Oregon. ROP works to keep each KTA easily achievable so that groups with other projects or groups with limited immediate energy can still manage to complete the KTA each month.

WHAT IS THE ACTIVITY?

This month’s Kitchen Table Activity is all about food security! Spring is in the air, and growing local food is an important part of building stronger and more resilient rural communities. There are many ways to take local action to strengthen local food security, from collaborating with service agencies, school districts, cities, and counties to create new community gardens, to simply growing an extra row of veggies in your garden to donate to the local pantry. April’s activity is to support the groups sharing food in your area and problem-solve with your neighbors to close local food security gaps!

WHY THIS ACTIVITY?

For most of the last decade, rural Oregon’s food insecurity rates were both higher than in the rest of the rural US and higher than in urban Oregon. Today, 1 in 4 Oregonians are food insecure, and communities of color are most severely impacted. This link has county-by-county statistics from 2019 that break down the numbers before the pandemic. Many rural communities don’t have easy ways for community members to grow food if they don’t own land. Over the course of the pandemic, human dignity groups across the state doubled down on mutual aid and food projects to meet the increased need. Now, as many service organizations are going “back to normal,” rural community leaders are making sure that agencies are prioritizing providing food for everyone in the community.

Want to nurture some new relationships? Consider having your “political” human dignity group coordinate your existing supporters to channel extra foods this way. Why coordinate? More bounty will get shared and more progressive goodwill might follow. It is important that we show that our global political concerns are actually rooted in the immediate needs of our communities and our neighbors. The more we practice our politics, the more relationships we build. And the more we can give some improved framing to the concept of being political.

HOW TO COMPLETE THE ACTIVITY:

1. Gather your human dignity group, review this Kitchen Table Activity together, and make a plan around how you can take action to support food access in your community! Need more information? Make a plan for group members to divide up and meet with each community resource one-on-one, and share your learnings at your group’s next meeting! Here are some questions to guide your conversation:

  • What resources do hungry families have access to in the community?
  • Are the service agencies and food pantries making their materials multilingual so everyone can access services?
  • What questions are people asked when they show up to get food?
  • What days and hours are they open? Are they open when working folks can go?
  • What kind of food do they have? Healthy foods? Culturally relevant foods?
  • Are there affordable community gardens? If not, why not?
  • Are there other food-growing resources available, such as Earth Day events with giveaways, patio planter projects for folks living in apartments, free seed hubs, or nurseries that are willing to donate extra starts?

2. Are you part of a community garden or are you starting your personal garden? Do you have space to grow an extra row of healthy veggies to share throughout the spring, summer, and fall (and winter too, if you’re hardcore)? Plan out who in your group is growing what so you can share more than late-summer zucchini.

3. Coordinate fresh produce drop-offs with your group throughout the year. Find your local food pantry on Oregon Food Bank’s website!

4. Share what you learned with your friendly ROP organizer, or emailing jess@rop.org! ROP’s excited to learn more about how rural communities are getting creative about sharing food AND to support folks who are working with their food pantries to make sure that everyone is welcomed and supported!

Bonus points: we’ll be discussing rural food security strategies at the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session on June 25th! Have you registered? More information can be found here!

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