From Donating Cans to Growing your Own

News and comment from around NYC on food access after Sandy:

In “Soup, Charity and the American Way,” the New York Times comments on Governor Mitt Romney’s characterization of donation of goods, clothing, and other items as “the American way.” While generosity in response to crisis has been shown time and again to be the American way, the Times is right to point out that donations of material goods are not the most effective form of giving – relief agencies from the international Red Cross to a church basement soup kitchen can make more effective use of financial donations than cans of food. Food pantries can stretch every dollar donated to purchase anywhere from $4 to $9 worth of food, and organizations dealing with crisis on the ground can best gauge where their resources should be spent.

Additionally, while disaster relief is critical in times of crisis, as an approach to the ongoing crisis of hunger and poverty, WhyHunger aims to move beyond the idea of donation-based charity to a model of empowered communities helping themselves. In “New York’s Urban Farms Weather Hurricane Sandy’s Winds But Not Her Waters,” the New York Observer reported this morning on Sandy’s impacts on some of Brooklyn’s urban farms. These great organizations, including BK Farmyards and longtime WhyHunger partner East New York Farms!, increase community-based food access and build real food sovereignty, helping people take control of their own lives and move away from charity. We’re pleased to hear that though these farms suffered some damage, it was not extensive.

As a final note, however, two of our other partners in Brooklyn were badly affected by the storm and its aftermath: Added Value Community Farm in Red Hook was very badly flooded, and 2011 Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award winner Neighbors Together, a food pantry, soup kitchen, and grassroots community organizing force in Bed-Stuy lost power in its fridge and freezer and subsequently lost all of the meat, dairy, and produce for its soup kitchen. Please consider making a donation to support these important organizations in their recovery at Added Value and Neighbors Together.

For other ways to help in Sandy recovery efforts, visit the Red Cross.

Siena Chrisman