Thursday, November 8, 2018

Bronx Health REACH Holds Faith Communities & Food Systems Conference

Panelists at the Faith Communities and Food Systems conference: (left to right) Dennis Derryck from Corbin Hill Food Project, Rev. Darriel Harris from the Black Church Food Security Network, Karen Washington from Rise & Root Farm, Nancy Ortiz-Surun and Demetrio Surun from La Finca del Sur.

On September 18th, Bronx Health REACH held a “Faith Communities and Food Systems” conference at Church of God of Prophecy. Fifty faith and community leaders and advocates gathered to discuss the role of faith communities in ensuring a healthier and more equitable food system for the Bronx. Participants included clergy, lay leaders, public health professionals, urban farmers, community gardeners, academic researchers, and other community members. Karen Washington from Rise & Root Farm and Rev. Darriel Harris from the Black Church Food Security Network and Baltimore Food & Faith Project were the main speakers. The conference highlighted the importance of urban agriculture and local farms (especially those run by farmers of color) for improving the health and self-sufficiency of Bronxites, and the role faith communities can play in helping create healthy food systems.

Conference attendees also discussed how elected officials and other policymakers need to recognize and remove the barriers that limit opportunities for growing, purchasing and selling fresh, healthy food in the Bronx. The importance of honoring the labor of farmers, gardeners, and other food related workers was a point that was stressed especially by Karen Washington. Attendees had an opportunity to watch a food demonstration by Tania Lopez, and brainstorm next steps that the health ministries of faith organizations could take regarding faith-based health education, improving access to locally grown food, and advocacy on food related policies.

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