WhyHunger’s Mother’s Day Q & A

We asked some of the mothers at WhyHunger to share how motherhood shapes their perspective on all things food justice including nutrition, community and favorite foods! Read on to hear from Noreen, Debbie, Kristen, and Hillary.

How is being a mother within the food justice movement shaped your viewpoint and approach towards your work?
Noreen: Being a mother and doing the important work of food justice are deeply intertwined. My children bear witness to the work by showing up alongside me at a community garden, a march for food justice, or at WhyHunger’s events. Their consciousness is awakened when they listen and learn from our partners and see the example that you can truly make a difference by working for justice. My three daughters are in their twenties and are keenly aware of the precariousness of the world they are inheriting. Our planet is on fire and they are afraid for their future. I hope that I can set an example to channel some positive energy into their lives so we can build a better world together and address the world’s pressing issues head-on.

Debbie: As a relatively new mom, I would say motherhood has impacted my perspective about my food justice work in ways I didn’t necessarily anticipate. There is something instinctual that kicks in around the magnitude of the interconnected hunger, environmental, racial, and social justice crisis we are facing. While there has always been a deep concern for humanity and justice for all as a driving force behind my decision to do this work, there is something about becoming a parent that gives a different sense of urgency and perspective when you start seeing the future through the eyes of your child. It both sharpens the problem and, on the flip side, gives you real hope for what’s possible.

Kristen: I love this question because it illuminated why I am in the food justice movement. I realize I’m in the movement BECAUSE I am a mother and parent. From my Nipmuc cultural perspective, we place so much value in life and birth. Our food and medicines are the gifts we cultivate through that love and care. In the Nipmuc language Neetuonk means “they who bring forth life”. I really consider it my purpose to ‘bring forth life’ in much the same way and reason why I cultivate food and work the land. My presence in the movement is to make sure these practices and traditions continue for my people.

Hillary: As a mother, I feel deeply for all the moms who are struggling to nourish and provide for their children. That perspective drives me and grounds me in my work to help in the fight to end hunger.

Debbie’s son, Andre, composting! (Adorable, we know!!)

What’s at least one takeaway you’ve seen or would like to see your children have and understand as a result of your engagement in this work?

N: I’ve worked intentionally to raise my children with a strong sense of responsibility, grounding, and a deep spirituality connected to people and the planet. I remain excited and hopeful about WhyHunger’s work and they know just how important that is through my commitment.

D: I am hoping they understand the importance of the collective. Especially growing up in the U.S., there is a cultural focus on individuality that permeates so many aspects of life. One thing that has been such a powerful lesson in my work with WhyHunger is just how many cultures, social movements, Indigenous Peoples and grassroots communities embody a completely different way of being where the interconnectedness between people, the care for and celebration of the community, and the importance of the collective are core aspects of life. There is something not only beautiful but life-sustaining and powerful about operating in true solidarity and mindfulness with others.

Kristen’s daughters Calista and Emerie.

K: Never stop fighting for their right to land and food.

H: We live around the corner from one of WhyHunger’s food pantry partners. Since my daughter was little she has seen firsthand what a food pantry is and how they help people in our community. She has a real understanding of the injustice of hunger and how important it is to make sure everyone has access to good food for themselves and their families. This year she brought her personal knowledge and experience into her classroom when they studied food insecurity!

Noreen’s homemade pancakes.

Fun Fact time!: What is a favorite food or meal you and your child (children) enjoy?
N: I’m always talking about and thinking about my next meal, but I would say we all love breakfast. Let’s go with homemade pancakes, and for me, that means raspberries, blueberries, crushed walnuts, and pure Vermont maple syrup!

D: We have a backyard garden and my little guy loves (almost) all of the fresh veggies. Popping cherry tomatoes off the vine is his favorite summertime snack!

K: Chowdah! (Boston peoples)

H: We both love popcorn and a refreshing glass of lemonade!

Noreen and her daughters Alyssa, Shannon and Breanne.

What’s a message you’d like to share with fellow mothers or youth who might be considering getting involved in the food justice or anti-hunger movements?

N: My favorite part about this work is being in community with people who are building vibrant food systems and creating access to healthy foods. Take that step and engage in your local community which will open the door to the bigger movement for change where all people have the human right to nutritious food.

D: If you share in the belief that nutritious, wholesome food is something every one of us deserves as a basic human right, if you care about the quality and nutritional value of the food you and your kids are consuming, if you worry about climate change and the impact it will have on your kids’ future, if you believe that the folks who grow, pick, pack and serve your food deserve to nourish their own families too – this is the movement for you. If you are tired of the social injustice you are seeing in so many aspects of our communities, getting involved in food justice and working to address hunger and its root causes is a great place to start. There are incredible organizations in every community growing and distributing food, advocating for policy change, and organizing folks to advance food justice and food sovereignty. Reach out, ask how you can get involved. You may be surprised to learn how your skills and experiences can help make a difference. And of course, follow WhyHunger on social media to stay informed and find more ways to take action.

K: It’s all about formacion! In agroecology, that’s how we form ourselves as individuals and collectives in the common struggle towards food sovereignty. Learning, collective work and analysis are the tasks to build the power we need to transform our conditions. I really hope to get a chance to be in formacion with you on the land!

H: It is so important that the next generation of food justice fighters start to step into their power and help continue to build up this movement to end hunger. If this is your passion then I would encourage you to pursue it. It’s hard and intense, but so worth it!

Kristina Erskine