Marcus Hill (center) at a Chaos Cooking event
Marcus Hill (center) at a Chaos Cooking event

Marcus Hill, lead coordinator at the Forsyth Community Food Consortium:

“When I think of not just eradicating food insecurity, but what a good food system can look like, there are always elements of increased community control and involvement within all aspects of the food system (production, processing, distribution, consumption, and recovery, or however you like to categorize). There is also always a dedication to social and environmental justice.

“From my perspective, there are three main steps toward getting there.

“The first involves better education for those working within the food movement itself toward better and more comprehensively connecting food system elements with one another and communities (the education I’m speaking of refers to learning how to more effectively intervene toward positive change in and with communities, how to work in participatory ways with communities and celebrate local knowledge, and how to more effectively uncover resources already existing within communities).

The second step involves working toward building more food system infrastructure that needs to be in place in order to grow food, get food to where it needs to be, recover food waste, get more people involved and active within the food system, etc. (this could involve feasibility studies toward and investments in food hubs, food business incubators and shared-use facilities, job training programs, and so on).

Finally, it involves generally more participation throughout the food system, which could be observed in terms of a growth in small food businesses, broader local EBT/WIC acceptance, more food-related community organizing, etc.”

Marianne LeGreco, associate professor at UNCG and food justice organizer:

Marianne LeGreco’s name came up in more interviews than anyone else. It’s not surprising, given her involvement with food access research, the Mobile Oasis market, speaking about food justice at TEDx Greensboro, organizing a local food alliance, and more. Here are some ideas she offered:

“Right now: build relationships around food

  1. Let’s do a Triad-wide photo-voice to put a face on hunger. We’ve got photographers, photo-voice experts and hungry people who want to share their stories… so let’s match them up and really get the picture of what our food security issues look like.
  1. The conversation is turning from access to cooking, so let’s all cook together… and I’m not talking cooking classes. I’m talking let’s take an Ethnosh model and do a monthly meetup where groups of people from all over the Triad get together and batch cook 2-4 weeks worth of food. We can all teach each other how to cook and maximize our food resources.

Bigger picture: build jobs and infrastructure around food

  1. Create jobs around food. This is the problem that I’ve heard quite a bit — the Triad has never really found sufficient replacement for the jobs in our furniture, textile and other manufacturing markets… nor have we as communities helped to facilitate the re-skilling of our workforce to meet the demands of the job opportunities that have come to the Triad. Well, we’re struggling with jobs and we’re struggling with food. What if they’re the solution to each other?
  2. A couple of ideas that people are kicking around involve the idea of a food-waste recovery program.
  3. I’ve also heard about four or five different people, including Winston-Salem Councilwoman DD Adams, talk about aquaponics and hydroponics as possible “food tech” developments that we can make. It’s an expensive but potentially lucrative idea that’s worth looking into (at the very least getting together the folks who are interested in it).

Our first response shouldn’t be to start another group — we already have a lot of people doing amazing things across the Triad.”

Later she added: “Take a look at bus routes to see if GTA can make it easier to get to grocery stores & supermarkets.”

20 COMMENTS

  1. It is about economic development in our area. Creating jobs in the food system and outside the foodsystem that pay well so people can support themselves and their family. A well designed transit system would be extremely helpful as people wouldn’t have to spend money on cars and all the costs involved in owning a car besides the environmental costs. A huge expense would be removed from a family budget that could be spent on securing food and other essentials.
    Jobs and Transit!!!
    Thank you Eric for writing this article.

  2. From the article: “It’s clear that the root of the issue is about much more than a need for more food drives and pantries, but lies in an economic system that disadvantages a significant portion of the population. Food insecurity is inseparable from larger issues of poverty, access and power, making it challenging not to be overwhelmed and immobilized by the breadth of the problem.”

    And yet the one item that is left out of the conversation is the only idea pitched that presents any real solutions– why? http://bessemeraquaponics.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

    • Wow – pretty arrogant to think your idea was the “only idea pitched that presents any real solutions.” I would love to see a list of all the ideas generated though. Can this be made available?

  3. Also from the article: “Door-to-door delivery: Brendan Younger recently pitched a concept at an Idea Slam event in Greensboro — build a business around delivering food door-to-door, even in low-income areas. He doesn’t want to implement it himself, but could envision someone making one delivery of staple items a week, estimating that one person could serve at least 100 households a week. Calculating the density of local food deserts, using a food-stamp calculator and looking at wholesale food prices, Younger figured it could be feasible and accessible.”

    I pitched Bessemer Aquaponics at that very same event– why no mention? http://bessemeraquaponics.blogspot.com/

      • Yes Eric, the same mutual friend who tells me he also told you about my idea. Could it be you’re ignoring the idea not because it is a bad idea but because of your personal feelings about me?

        Bad journalism, Eric.

        • Hi Billy,

          Really, it was just that Joel and I happened to be at Gibb’s at the same time as Eric and so it was really easy for me to get Eric’s email address and send him the information I had. It’s clear from the length of the article that Eric talked to a ton of people and his intention wasn’t to find the absolute best ideas or present the one true path forward, just to keep people talking and thinking about this.

          I do like your idea quite a bit. Are you finding the resources you need to make it happen?

          • Brendan, I liked your ideas so much I added them to our vision: http://bessemeraquaponics.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html Not that I’m trying to steal or take credit for your ideas but you did say you only wanted to put it out there for someone else to use.Besides, as the producer of the food Bessemer Aquaponics could more cheaply supply the food than by buying through others.

            I realize that you and Joel were at Gibbs but you see the thing is, I pitched my ideas to Brian Clarey weeks ago and as always, he and Eric deliberately ignored me. Brian seems to be of the opinion that I’m only seeking publicity but the truth is there is nothing in this for me. You heard my presentation, like you and your idea I don’t want to run it, I don’t seek to profit from it, I could care less about attention except that ideas– even the best ideas in the world– die without attention.

            Had Brian and Eric looked at my idea and thought it bunk that would be one thing but I believe Eric has a personal grudge with me and is holding Greensboro’s poor hostage with his anger.

            As for resources, all I need now is a board of directors: http://bessemeraquaponics.blogspot.com/2015/05/next-step-board-of-directors.html who can share the vision.

          • As usual, my preferred response to you is “Whatever, Billy.” I am holding the poor hostage by not reading your blog? Get a grip. I’m vaguely aware that you’re doing something with aquaponics, and maybe it’s a great idea. But you do realize that there are a ton of people working on food insecurity that I didn’t interview, not just you, right? I’d say about a dozen people that I DID talk to didn’t even make it in for space/time reasons. As Brendan said, this list isn’t meant to be definitive, but to get the ball rolling. I’m glad you’re adding your idea in the comments.

          • Eric,

            Your first excuse:

            “The exclusion wasn’t intentional — I didn’t go to the event, but met Younger after the fact and heard about his idea from a mutual friend.”

            But that didn’t fly. Your second excuse:

            ” I’d say about a dozen people that I DID talk to didn’t even make it in for space/time reasons.”

            But you never talked to me. Brian Clarey never replied to my invitations to come to our meetings even with weeks notice. You and Brian made no effort to look into the ideas I’m presenting. I contacted Brian repeatedly and got zero response. And then Eric replies:

            “As usual, my preferred response to you is “Whatever, Billy.”

            As usual you have made a pretty good case for what I said about you in the first place:

            “Could it be you’re ignoring the idea not because it is a bad idea but because of your personal feelings about me?

            Bad journalism, Eric.”

            You’ve never taken the time to look at my ideas because of your anger towards me. Had you looked at them you would have given me straight answers as to Thank you for proving my point.

            When ideas are discounted not on the individual merit of the idea but because of who is presenting the idea, journalism fails us.

          • Believe it or not, Billy, your name does not come up very much around here. Except when you link-spam our pages. Poor form, by the way.

  4. Thank you for the shout out to the seed swap at the Ardmore Gateway Garden! I organized that event this year, and another where we gave away and swapped plants with community members. We had a modest turn out but hope to continue sharing our resources with our neighbors.
    Fantastic, inspiring, motivating article.

  5. The Servant Center isn’t closing the Servant Center is closing its pantry. However, One Step Further, Inc. Has decided to try to keep it open. OSF is attempting to $10K by June 30th to save the pantry!

  6. Thanks for this great article Eric! Just wanted to put it out there that the organization I work for (Partnership for Community Care) has started a healthy food pantry for our Medicaid patients with chronic disease–this is similar to an idea posed by the Greater High Point Food Alliance. We too have seen how linked food insecurity is after hospital discharge and with managing a chronic health condition. Would be happy to share what we are doing with others!

    • Now there’s a project that seeks to treat causes as well as symptoms. Too much of our efforts are directed towards symptoms when what we need are cause based solutions. Thank you for your efforts at Partnership for Community Care.

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