Food Issue: Hunger, Self-Sufficiency, and Human Dignity

I’m one of those people who cries almost at the drop of a hat, but it’s rare for me to get choked up during an interview. This month, though, was different. As I spoke with Kimberly Lashua, director of the Montpelier Food Pantry, I found myself tearing up at the fact that, as a culture, society, and world, we continue to allow a system which denies so many people the adequate, meaningful employment that’s necessary to ensure economic self-sufficiency. So we continue to have food pantries and food banks and soup kitchens in this country; and “international food aid” (which is not always exactly that) in our global sphere.

I know it’s more complicated than that; and I do believe that it’s our collective responsibility to care for those less fortunate. So I’m glad there are food pantries and food banks and soup kitchens and international food aid. But sitting in the office of the Trinity Church, talking with Kimberly, I wished there was more focus on restructuring our economic system so that everyone could experience true economic self-sufficiency — and the dignity and self-respect that comes along with that.

This week’s Montpelier Bridge is the annual Food Issue, and it’s a good one. Read more about the Montpelier Food Pantry and Just Basics, its parent organization; how Food Works continues to meet its mission of teaching people to feed themselves; what local food products are served in Montpelier restaurants; controversy at the Montpelier Farmers Market (will Pete’s Greens be allowed to vend this year?); and much more.

Feeling inspired to fight hunger? Or looking for inspiration to continue? The Vermont Foodbank’s annual Hunger Conference is coming up on May 8. “Impact Through Innovation” is the theme this year. Keynote speaker Dr. Steven L. Robbins will also present workshops entitled “Human Differences: Understanding and Leveraging to Create Social Change” and “Diversity is Not the Problem, Closed-Mindedness Is.”

If the system is to change, we must all work to change it. I ask myself, what will I do? I ask you: what will you do?