University of Arkansas Hosts First Food Justice Summit
Posted on November 11, 2013
The department of political science and School of Social Work in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is partnering with the local group Feed Communities to host the first University of Arkansas Food Justice Summit, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, through Thursday, Nov. 14 at a variety of locations. More information about times and locations is available at the Food Justice Summit website or Facebook page.
According to the organization Northwest Arkansas Hunger Relief, in 2012, 49 million Americans lived in food-insecure households — 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children – meaning that these individuals did not have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and health life. Arkansas households ranked second in food-insecurity at 19.7 percent.
At the same time, the United States is experiencing an epidemic of obesity while an estimated 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten and is discarded. This represents an economic loss of $165 billion annually and a tremendous amount of unnecessary environmental damage.
The Food Justice Summit puts a spotlight on these issues. It will bring practitioners, academics and students together to discuss these issues and address ways to solve them.
Among the summit’s presenters are Gail Feenstra, food and society coordinator at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute; and Ben Simon, founder and executive director of the Food Recovery Network and a student at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Feenstra will discuss the development of regional food systems that link farmers, consumers and communities. Simon’s presentation will focus on uniting students at American colleges to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus food from their campuses and donating it to hungry people.
The food justice movement promotes fair and equal access to healthy food by all members of a community, and the three-day summit will incorporate lectures, panel discussions and table exercises to address the issue of food justice in Arkansas. Some of the highlights of the summit include the Healthy Food System Practitioners’ Symposium on Tuesday; Academics of Food Justice: An Interdisciplinary Approach on Wednesday; and the Farm to Table Community Breakfast on Thursday.
Other partners in the summit include Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Phi Alpha social work honors society, Friends of the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, the Fayetteville Public Library, and many programs within the U of A, such as the departments of horticulture, agricultural economics and food science in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, the School of Law Graduate Program in Agricultural and Food Law, the Office of Campus Sustainability and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.
Anyone interested can follow the summit on social media by using the hashtag #UofAFoodJustice.