At the last Closing the Hunger Gap (CTHG) Conference in 2015, representatives of hundreds of food access organizations gathered to declare that charity won’t end hunger. Instead, they called for a radical transformation from charity to justice. They redefined hunger as a problem of economic and racial inequity and reimagined the ways we address hunger.

This year’s conference, themed “From Charity to Solidarity,” promises to be just as revolutionary, especially in the midst of consistent divisive attacks on people in poverty in the current political climate. From September 11 through 13, 2017, hundreds of people from around the country working to eliminate hunger and poverty within their communities will join at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center in Tacoma, Washington, just south of Seattle, to learn from other another and strategize next steps in the continuing movement to end hunger. Registration is currently open to secure your participation.

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The 2017 CTHG schedule will inspire and challenge leaders in the anti-hunger movement to question the approach to ending hunger and will provide concrete, collaborative teachings and actions that will continue long after the conference ends. Attendees will choose between interactive sessions on topics including inclusivity and reciprocity in grassroots organizing, racial justice advocacy, the impact of law and policy on anti-hunger work, case studies in sustainable community development and much more.

This year’s keynote speakers are Malik Kenyatta Yakini, founder and Executive Director or the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and Beatriz Beckford, experienced grassroots organizer and Campaign Director of MomsRising. They will each share applicable insights from their work and experiences as anti-hunger movement builders.

Before the conference, participants can engage in training on narrative change and tours of innovative groups in the Washington area addressing food insecurity through cross-sector alliances, community farming, culinary training programs, the arts and more. Throughout the conference, attendees can form meaningful partnerships and with peers from across the country through multiple networking and brainstorming sessions.

The conference is hosted by Northwest Harvest and the CTHG National Network and sponsored by WhyHunger and the Northwest Harvest. Anyone interested in or working towards food justice is welcome to join. Please share this information with your peers and register for the 2017 CTHG conference as soon as possible to guarantee your attendance and a discounted conference registration rate. Scholarships are also available for attendees.

Register today for the 2017 CTHG Conference at: https://cthg.regfox.com/conference

Just released! We are excited to share a new report and video made in collaboration with WhyHunger and food access organizations from around the country that participated in the recent national Closing the Hunger Gap “Cultivating Food Justice” Conference. Special Report: America’s Food Banks Say Charity Won’t End Hunger calls for a transformation from charity to justice and explores the growing conversation among food access organizations that ending hunger will take much more than food distribution. When the goal is to transform the systems and policies that perpetuate hunger, what role do emergency food providers play in achieving long-term change? How are resources allocated and how is success measured? Why is a focus on social justice essential?

Get the full report and watch the video to learn how America’s emergency food system is rethinking charity. Join the conversation with #HungerGap.

Scholarship

Calling all food pantries, soup kitchens and passionate members of the emergency food and social justice movement: Closing the Hunger Gap is hosting their inspirational Cultivating Food Justice Conference for the second time and they are offering a number of scholarships to help you attend! The deadline is in three days – so now is your time to apply.

Closing the Hunger Gap Network works to broadly engage anyone who genuinely supports community empowerment efforts involving food in low-income communities. The conference will be held September 13 -16, 2015, in Portland, Oregon and will bring together emergency food providers, food justice activists and anti-hunger advocates in a vibrant and diverse discussion of community food security. WhyHunger’s Community Partnerships Manager Suzanne Babb, who will be presenting at the conference, explained that the conference offers workshops on best practices, tips and tricks from innovative community program models and opportunity to share ideas and build relationships with different groups to build on the vision for transforming the emergency food system.

Along with Suzanne, Alison Cohen, Senior Director of Programs and Jessica Powers, Director of the Nourish Network for the Right to Food, will be facilitating the pre-conference event ‘Working Together to Transform Emergency Food’ and the open space sessions for ‘Critical Questions in Food Banking.’ Babb says the Cultivating Food Justice Conference will address food security issues at both an organizational and at an individual level -“What we can do collectively to take action; but also in the smaller open sessions, what can people do in their own communities to take action and help to dismantle the charity model.”

Individuals impacted by food insecurity and small emergency food providers are encouraged to attend, as well as everyone who participated in the 2013 conference. Three scholarships support attendees with limited funds:

  1. Registration Scholarship - pays registration fees for one person
  2. Community Partners Scholarship - pays registration fees for people who work or volunteer together
  3. Work Trade Position – pays registration fees for conference volunteers
The application deadline for scholarships is June 26, 2015. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application by July 17, 2015. Apply now!

General registration must be made by August 17, 2015.

closing the hunger gapWhyHunger is excited to share that Closing the Hunger Gap is now accepting workshop proposals for its Cultivating Food Justice Conference that will be held September 13-16, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The deadline for proposals is April 1, 2015.

Closing the Hunger Gap (CTHG) is a network of food banks, anti-hunger advocates and food justice activists from across North America working to engage food banks and their constituents in expanding their efforts toward community-based empowerment initiatives. CTHG expects over 500 attendees at the 2015 conference, representing emergency food providers, farms and nonprofit organizations focused on health, education and food justice. The 2015 event aims to build momentum and collective strength among food banks and hunger relief organizations towards a unified national agenda by inspiring each other, building relationships, having critical conversations, sharing practical tools and creating common definitions.

As an adviser and participant in the first CTHG event in 2014, WhyHunger’s Jess Powers, director of the Nourish Network for the Right to Food program, encourages folks to submit a proposal, “This is a critical moment for creating change in emergency food provision and addressing rising income inequality. This conference provides a space to ask questions and learn from each other, and more importantly, to organize together for a new vision of access to healthy food.”

They are looking for workshop proposals that:

  • Are creative, interactive, and provide opportunities for significant audience participation.
  • Focus on "how to" and skill building and that allow time for attendees to think through how they might adapt and implement programs/skills in their own communities.
  • Include a diverse group of workshop leaders, such as emerging leaders, youth, project participants and community members.
  • Demonstrate collaboration across sectors.
To host a workshop or session at the 2015 conference, take a look at the conference goals and Request for Proposals and then submit a proposal.

Three of us from WhyHunger traveled to Tucson, Arizona, for the Closing the Hunger Gap conference last week, hosted by Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (CFB). WhyHunger has worked with partners in southern Arizona for several years, supporting local organizations in their efforts to address local issues, through the Somos la Semilla network and with partners including CFB, Tierra y Libertad Organization, and Arevalos Farm, as well as others in nearby border areas of Texas and New Mexico. The region faces a number of unique challenges, including water scarcity, ever-increasing border militarization, high poverty rates, and, despite being on a primary food transport corridor between Mexico and the US, soaring rates of both food insecurity and food waste.

Between November and April, 60% of all produce in the US comes through the Mexico/Arizona corridor. Nationally, 40% of our food is wasted; that number is even greater in the border region, where 300 billion pounds of produce crosses annually. Not all of that will make it much past the border, as distributors make decisions about whether or not a given shipment of tomatoes or broccoli will still be fresh by the time it reaches its destination in Kansas or Pennsylvania. The day before the conference, we took a tour to see how some local organizations are dealing with this issue, both by reclaiming produce for food banks and by composting unusable food waste to build rich soil--particularly important in the desert, as organic matter helps hold water. We visited the San Xavier Community Farm and Compost Cats near Tucson, and Nogales Community Food Bank, on the US side of the town of Nogales, which sits on both sides of the border. We visited the border crossing as well, which divides Nogales with a fence and checkpoint.

Both the composting program and the food bank have made a dent in the food that is otherwise wasted in the border region—and have much more that they can accomplish. But Compost Cats coordinator Chester Phillips points out a fundamental injustice in the work: farmers and workers south of the border make much less than those on US farms, as one example of the ways in which the US/Mexico relationship is often extractive, with resources exploited in Mexico flowing to profit US companies and consumers. Captured food waste is just another example: even food which is discarded ends up serving low-income Americans and building Arizona’s soil, rather than those assets returning to Mexico.

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