WhyHunger knows its important to amplify the voices of the people working to regain control of their communities' food. We believe that telling one's story is not only an act of reclaiming in the face of the dominant food narrative of this country, but also an affirmation that the small acts of food sovereignty happening across the country add up to a powerful, vital collective.

The apartment’s small kitchen steams with the flavorful scent of cumin, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and garlic. Slender pieces of chicken simmer in a yellow curry. On a platter, a handful of bright green, fiery-hot chili peppers sit atop fresh-sliced tomatoes and onions. A bowl of steamed rice waits to the side. Rubyna (Ruby) Begum and Rahima Akhter work
Community Servings (CS) has humble beginnings as a Jewish outreach organization responding to AIDS in the late ‘80s. To this day, but especially early during the AIDS epidemic, malnutrition was a major cause of death. The simple act of feeding people properly who were diagnosed HIV+ could keep them alive. Food was a viable form of medicine. Community Servings has
Urban Roots (UR) began as a program of Youth Launch in 2008. After an affluent start to the 21st Century, 2008 was not a great year to start a business or non-profit in the US. But it turned out to be great timing for a youth-based urban production farm project in Austin. You see, despite the national economic downturn, Austin
Elisa had never heard of free food. That's not why she came to America with her two young boys, age ten and twelve, from Jalisco, Mexico. She heard about jobs and opportunities for her children to be educated and move up in life. So she came into the country and made her way to the central California town of Santa
To reach Breslin Farms, you drive through what feels like a sea of corn. The northern Illinois land is vast and flat, subdivided by a grid of country roads that meet at perfectly right angles before continuing on due east and west, north and south. The corn fields stretch as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by soybean
Denise O'Brien distributes vegetable shares to the members of her community supported agriculture (CSA) program from her former dairy barn in Atlantic, Iowa. Denise and her husband, Larry Harris, haven't milked cows since 1995, but the converted barn-turned-vegetable-shed—along with the chicken house, orchard, vegetable beds and new high tunnel for season extension—chart the life and cycles of a decades-old diversified
While the students at Pecan Springs Elementary School in east Austin went through their mid-day class routines, eleven women graduated in a small portable classroom beside the playing field. Each woman was called up to the front of the room to receive her diploma. The rest of the class applauded between bites of food. For the final class, instructor Lorena
Richard Scott hook and line fishes for king mackerel and red snapper on his fishing vessel Schatzi. He has been fishing for 20 years and started in Florida, but moved to Grand Isle, because of the longer fishing season and the larger trip limits. But, over the years, as the fisheries have been privatized under individual fishing quotas, Richard is
Karen Washington’s community did not have access to fresh, healthy food, so she started changing that, one garden at a time. Karen has farmed in the Bronx for over 20 years and was an original member of La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition, which consists of five community gardens. Karen is also a member of a new farm: La Finca
Juan Uyunkar is an Uwishin, or natural doctor, of the Shuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon. He has been trained in agronomy, attended veterinary school and extensively studied natural medicines. He gathers herbs from the Amazon to treat people with illnesses that range from cancer to paralysis to spirit possession. De-contamination of the body is a part of the basic
Dena Hoff has been farming on Sand Creek Farm since 1981. She grows beans, corn, tomatoes and an array of produce, while also raising lambs, chickens and pigs. Dena coordinates with the international food sovereignty movement and then brings the principles back home. She is an active member with local organizations, the National Family Farm Coalition and La Via Campesina.
Ben Burkett’s family has been farming since 1889. Over the years, each generation bought more land and he now runs B&B Farms on 296 acres. He grows 15 different varieties of vegetables, as well as timber. He is active in local, regional, national and international organizations. Ben Burkett is President of the National Family Farm Coalition and he represents the
Ben Platt is a second-generation fisherman on the fishing vessel Sea Star. He trolls for salmon and albacore, longlines for black cod and traps crab from California up the coast to Washington and over to Alaska. Ben feels the current fisheries management system is devastating the communities and the environment. Ben is on the Board of the Salmon Trollers Marketing
Bob St. Peter is the director of Food for Maine’s Future, a board member of the National Family Farm Coalition and active in La Via Campesina. Bob led a community effort to pass a law, known as the Local Food and Self Governance Ordinance, which allows Maine farmers to assert their own independence and implement local control over regulations. Bob,
Ana Luisa Trevino came to the United States in 1972 from Matamoros Tamaulipas, Mexico. She was eleven years old at the time. At thirteen, she started working as a farm worker, and did so until age twenty-five years. Ana finds that immigration rules and regulations are the biggest injustice for migrant farm workers, plus the lack of environmental and safety
Since 1977, Carlos Marentes has organized work stoppages, aka “strikes” in the border region between the United States and Mexico to gain basic rights, higher pay and better conditions for farm workers. Carlos also is organizing to fight the consolidation of agriculture. He is a member of Sin Fronteras, Rural Coalition and is the North American delegate of Via Campesina.
Chavannes Jean Baptiste is a farmer and farm leader. Since 1972 he has coordinated the Peasants Movement of Papaye (MPP) and is active in La Via Campesina. Chavannes was educated at an agricultural school and uses his education and his involvement with the Catholic church to organize farmers and advance food sovereignty in Haiti. Chavannes Jean Baptise is giving a
Joel Greeno works 160 acres at Greeno Acres. He focuses on marketing high quality, fair trade milk and cheese. Joel is president of The American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association, Vice President of Family Farm Defenders, on the Executive Committee of the National Family Farm Coalition and active in La Via Campesina. On the lawn of long-time farmer and food
John bought his farm just after World War II and had been a dairy farmer ever since. His life was dedicated to the food sovereignty movement. He was an active member of Family Farm Defenders, National Family Farm Coalition and La Via Campesina. He passed in January 2014 and the world has lost an amazing person. Food Sovereignty covers everything
Julio Cesar Moreno fishes for a variety of fish on his boat,ElUno. He is the spokesperson for the National Organization of Artisanal Fishermen and Fisherwomen and for the Artisanal Fishermen of the Social Front. He is also part of the fishing secretariat of ALBA – The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. Chuao is accessible only by boat and surrounded by
Maria José dos Santos and her husband, José Barbosa Soares, farm grains, fruits and nuts. They fight to maintain their territories and protect their culture. Maria and José are active in their community and are members of APAPAIS: Associação dos Pequenos Agricultores e Pescadores Assenta dos do Imóvel Sabiaguaba – Association of Small Farmers and Fishermen in the Area of
Máximo Cangá Castillo active with local, national and grassroots organizations. He is a leader in his community and has fought against Columbian palm plantation owners and the invasion of shrimp farms. Máximo is active with the National Coordination for the Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem. San Lorenzo is in the northern Ecuadorian state of Esmeraldas on the Pacific coast. There,
Oscar Otzoy came to the United States in 2006 from Guatemala. After working in the fields of Immokalee for some time, he became active with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to fight for the rights of farm workers.  Oscar Otzoy left home so his brothers and sisters would have a better life with the money he earned. As he prepared
Brooklyn, NY A half-century of the American urban narrative has unfolded in the Brooklyn neighborhood below Edna Grant’s apartment. She moved into Ingersoll Houses 55 years ago so through her window she’s seen the tale of post World War boom, then the manufacturing collapse of the 70s, a few decades of unemployment and crime, then the revitalization, and now the
Dr. Melony Samuels never intended to start a multi-borough food pantry and social service operation. She just wanted to help a mother of four whom she’d heard was in need. At the time, Dr. Samuels worked with a Brooklyn corporation and lived in the Jersey suburbs. She and her husband drove 62 miles to meet this woman and bring her
Once leaving its headwaters in the abrupt, snow-capped Mission Mountain range of western Montana, the Jocko River carves out a mellow valley through bulbous hills that roll into a crispy tan horizon for most months of the year. Until the last century the greater Flathead Lake region was the land of the Bitterroot Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and one band of
The world’s first food bank is not that old. In 1967 retired businessman John van Hengel was volunteering for a soup kitchen in Phoenix, AZ. He would routinely accumulate more food than he could use for the needy. Then a soup kitchen recipient told him that she often fed her family unopened food from a grocery store dumpster. The woman
Rufus Newsome presses his ear against the cold wooden side of a beehive. His massive hand nearly covers the top of the box as he listens for a barely audible hum. He hears it. The hives are surviving the dead of winter in Oklahoma’s Green Country. They’ll live to pollinate another crop of clover and the orchard of peach, pear,
Hurricane Andrea drags its wet, car-wash stroke across Maine. The usually black, clear Sebasticook River running between town and the small, bucolic campus of Unity College flows faster and browner after two inches of overnight rain. The big tent erected for the annual Unity Barn Raisers small business fair at the Unity Community Center sheds more water onto the grass.
Fidel Gonzalez started farming to save his house. He’d never farmed in his life. He’d never been to a farmer’s market. But he was running up against a wall with payments and his music recording business wasn’t giving him the boost he needed. Fidel had worked in music most of his life. At age 22 he moved into the US
Seattle can grow food. All that misty rain that never seems to go away in April and May just means more moisture for young plants. And there’s an ethos of backyard gardening and community gardens in the city that has been growing strong for half a century. But not everyone can grow food in their yards because many people don’t
The best ideas are usually the most obvious ones. Michael Reeps stood on stage in front of a crowd of Staunton, VA residents. He proposed an idea he’d been scheming for a while. Reeps is a web developer and designer. He recognized the interest in local, fresh food around Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley. He saw consumers and producers living
Zenger Farm turns 100 in 2013. In its lifeline, one can see a (admittedly simple) model of 20th century American development with a happy ending. Chronology Point 1: America’s last great farmer generationBegin with the Swiss immigrant farmer, Ulrich Zenger, who opened Mount Scott Dairy in 1913 Chronology Point 2: farming’s mid-century decline as industrial jobs take overZenger and family
Three brightly-colored nylon tents flap in the mild breeze. A tattered blue tarp hangs from the only shade- and wind-block tree for hundreds of yards. A few American-made full-size pick-up trucks angle in, creating more of a wind-block. With the tall trucks on one side, the tree on the other, and a bank of dry, grassy earth behind, it’s difficult
Vince Vang Lee Xiong and his mother stoop to pick shiny, metallic beetles off the leaves of broccoli plants. They toss the pests into a pickle bucket with two inches of water on the bottom. It’s slow, tedious work, but Vince’s mother and his father, who also works this farm, have been growing food this way since they could walk.
In 2006, Soil Born Farm’s Food Access Coordinator, Randy Stannard, heard about a man selling peaches at a crazy low price at one of the city farmer's markets. He heard the man had incredible fruit but no permit. Since Soil Born Farms is a non-profit in Sacramento that supports farmer’s markets and encourages sustainable growers and farm education programs throughout
“I started out just scrubbing walls,” says David McClellan, age 21. “Hours of scrubbing walls and painting classrooms.” If there ever was a ladder to climb to get into urban agriculture, David started at the very bottom. He came to the Ecology Center as a court-ordered juvenile, required to work off eighty hours for getting caught doing something stupid. David
Each Thursday at Martin Luther King, Jr. elementary school in West Oakland, Monica Parks shows up before her three girls are out of class for the day. She sets up tables and a tent for shade. She displays cabbage, greens, onions, apples, oranges, tomatoes, avocadoes, mangos, cherries, and strawberries. When the students walk out of the cafeteria, they meet their
A four-year-old carrying an adult-size food tray is a funny thing. It looks like a construction worker hauling a sheet of dry-wall from one end of the house to the other. It takes concentration and focus. The pre-K students at West Seattle Montessori have been taught to carry their trays directly in front of them, and to look at the
Since it’s below freezing, Rita and Barton Williams walk us into the greenhouse that sits to the side of their farmstead a dozen miles outside Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Which is to say, in the middle of the middle of America, what Oklahomans call Green Country. Long, straight roads and a rolling sea of yellow farmland and island hills of leafless deciduous
When school lets out at Eugene Field Elementary School, the area does not become a ghost town that children run from, like so many schools. The block that houses Eugene Field remains a gathering place in a fringe neighborhood of southwest Tulsa. The Westside Harvest Market shares a backyard fence with the school. The after-school program kids circle-up on a
Ms Campbell’s Earth Science classroom in McClain Junior/Senior Magnet High School looks huge and spotless without the students in it. They’ve gone home for the day. The tools of the modern high school science lab are everywhere: gas outlets and computers on the wide, black desks, microscopes in back, the chemical shower for emergencies. Ms Campbell uses all this to
The grim reaper of Taos County is a quiet, soft-spoken man who arrives to ranches in a giant white semi-truck emblazoned with colorful logos. Gilbert Sauzo Jr. drives the truck. He’s the reaper, using a bolt stunner or rifle to slay cattle, elk, bison, or pigs, but none of it is grim. Gilbert and his staff of one or two,
The rich floodplains along the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque look like they’ve been farmed since the dawn of time. The river moves on the surface but, seen from above, it appears as a wide, green ribbon of vegetation that is much broader than the actual flow. The ribbon runs down the side of Albuquerque like a long rolled out
There’s nothing easy about farming. You can’t dabble in it. That’s gardening or plantation farming. Farming for real is a lifestyle. And farming in purely organic, bio-diverse ways on a small scale for commercial sales in a low-income community is as hard as it gets. Next to impossible with the current situation of farming subsidies throughout the US. So Richard
Manney Sicard, age 37, kept seeing people working in the garden behind his apartment. The lot had been another three-story apartment building like the one he lives in, but it had burned, and the vacant lot had quickly attracted weeds, then shadows, then illegal trash. It was not something worth looking at from Manney’s window. But now there are 32
Juan Lopez arrived to the US as an exile, with the Coast Guard flying overhead. He was in a twenty-seven-foot boat with around forty other Cubans. They landed on Cayo Hueso (Bone Key, as the Cubans refer to Key West). He took a bus to Miami. It was 1980. Castro had thrown up his hands and allowed for dissidents to
There are no FM radio stations when driving up the Pauma Valley from California’s Interstate 15. The straggly ends of the Sierra Nevada Mountains make for a choppy landscape. Creeks are full of round, sand-colored granite boulders, but no water. It’s desert, but there’s water somewhere; the hills are green with pines and oaks. And orange groves dominate the valley
Daniella, 18, used to ride her fixy bike all day, just to be outside. She doesn’t like being inside, it makes her feel trapped and closed-off. It’s not that she comes from a bad home, just a crowded one. Her mom left the family of eight children when Daniella was five. So her dad took care of the kids. He
The border town of Nogales, AZ has two lives, but they aren’t Mexican and American. Those two worlds seem to flow into one another on a street-level basis. Less so than before the border fever hit full pitch, but residents still go “across the line” for a shopping trip or a meal or to see family and friends. The alternative
For over a decade the field lay fallow, a broad meadow at the bottom of a long hill. Thick evergreens and maples lined the back of the lot, but nothing more than grass grew in the dozen acres of flat Forest Grove, Oregon soil. Forest Grove sits to the west of Portland in the northernmost corner of the Willamette Valley,
You can't ignore the fresh produce stand in the front of Bottles corner store at West Oakland's 12th and Market Streets. A garland of yellow and white flowers frames the four metal shelves that hold bananas, tomatoes, onions, limes, apples, and green peppers. Surrounding the shelf is a corner store. A bodega: the shiny, plastic-and-glass rainbow of chips, candy bars,
Cody Van Meter's favorite part of his Olympia, WA hometown is a rectangle of tilled earth that's been growing food for centuries. The pool-sized plot is called Darwin East and it's part of the GRuB farm. Cody's only been growing here for a year, but the dark, rich soil and the community of young people digging into it alongside Cody
As we wrote a few days ago, several of us from WhyHunger were in Arizona last week for the Closing the Hunger Gap conference, and we visited the San Xavier Community Farm on the Tohono O'odham Nation. In this short video — filmed at the San Xavier Farm — you can learn more about our friends at Tohono O'odham Community
Some towns need a revolution more than others. Birmingham, AL, at the turn of the 21st Century, was begging for some fresh ideas. The downtown had been all-but abandoned, a classic American urban food desert where corner stores and fast food were even running scarce. Edwin Marty grew up in Birmingham, but not in downtown. He lived in the nearby