Hunger in the Farm-to-Fork Capital
The statistics are staggering. In Sacramento County, hunger affects more than 245,000 households, including 88,000 children. Everyday more than 50,000 people struggle to find their next meal. These numbers hold true throughout the region.
“I had a heart attack and lost my job. Having diabetes, you have to be on a pretty strict diet. I can’t afford the food I need. I don’t qualify for food stamps and carbs are what are cheap. You know, the churches can only give so much, and they give to the families that have kids, not to the husband and wife that don’t have kids.” – LaVone O’Leary, recorded at Capital Public Radio’s Hidden Hunger: Storybooth.
This story and other personal testimonies of residents coping with hunger in the Sacramento region were shared at the Hunger in the Farm-to-Fork Capital events on May 13 and June 3, 2015, hosted by the Village Square and Capital Public Radio. Participants – including people directly impacted by hunger, advocates, policymakers, business people and community leaders – gathered to deepen their understanding of the causes and impacts of hunger, hear new perspectives, and be inspired to take action.
What is the value in this type of community conversation? If there’s a problem that needs to be solved, do you get involved? When you hear staggering statistics that seem like they belong more to a country ravaged by war than your own community, what do you do about it? When your neighbors stop talking about important issues that affect your community, where do you turn?
We must be willing to take action. To turn people on to action, we need to feel a connection to the issue, to each other and to our community. Dialogue and understanding are essential first steps to any long-term solution and one of the shared values of the Village Square and Capital Public Radio’s Community Engagement efforts.
Through the Hunger in the Farm-to-Fork Capital conversation series, Village Square and Capital Public Radio created a welcoming space and the opportunity for honest conversation about the tough topic of hunger. We discovered there is a strong desire for this type of community conversation (both events sold out). We also found that residents are eager to deepen their understanding about the causes and impacts of important topics like hunger, and to hear new perspectives and consider solutions that include mobilizing for action.
These were not your average community conversations; it was civic storytelling at its best. This was thoughtful content, open-mindedness, diverse viewpoints and powerful real life stories, many that were told by those experiencing hunger themselves and recorded at Capital Public Radio’s Hidden Hunger: Storybooth.
This is just what Village Square and Capital Public Radio’s Community Engagement efforts are uniquely positioned to do.
“People living with hunger and poverty are truly just ordinary people.”
“Many that are hungry also have medical issues.”
“We talked at our table about how shocked many people were regarding senior hunger. The face of hunger is often that of a child, but seniors are very at-risk.”
“The middle class is not what it was. We sign a ‘social contract’ early on to get an education, to get trained, to work hard. But even then, we sometimes find ourselves not able to make ends meet to feed our families or ourselves. The social paradigm as we see it is changing.”
“I loved the sense of community fostered at this event, bringing together people from all sectors of the population with different life experiences, beliefs and opinions.”
We were thrilled to hear that attendees gained a sense of community in a whole new way. That people felt more informed, with a deeper personal understanding, and inspired by what transpired. What we saw was participants building relationships and getting motivated to engage in true community problem solving—exactly what these community conversations are designed to do. We hope you will join us next time!