The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has long had a national reputation for its leadership role in doing what food banks do: tackling hunger. In September, this role takes the form of a national conference which will bring together food banks, community leaders, farmers, and educators from across the nation.
“It’s an opportunity for us to have critical conversations about the root causes of hunger.”
The impetus for the inaugural event came eight months ago when Robert Ojeda, vice president of the CFB’s Community Food Resource Center, wanted to “get a sense of what other food banks were doing out there,” he says. In spite of the diversity of food banks across America, he found there were common issues and questions.
“It’s an opportunity for us to talk about framing a message that allows us to move forward as a national cohort; framing a national strategy to really have critical conversations about the root causes of hunger,” says Ojeda. “And also an opportunity to provide some useful tools for people to take with them around gardening and farming, nutrition and cooking, leadership, the work that’s being done in schools and how food banks can support that.”
More than 60 food banks from across the United States will attend. Food security and food justice are central to the work of these food banks and Ojeda hopes the conference will help “come up with a framework of how we talk about this [issue], how we understand the terms and how we’re putting them into practice.”
On Wednesday evening, the Pima County Food Alliance will hold a screening of A Place at the Table, a documentary about hunger in America. The film will be shown at the Marriott from 7–8:30 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public.
On Thursday night, the closing dinner will be made using food sourced from warehouses in Nogales, some of which would have been thrown away before it had the chance to get to retail stores in Tucson. The Food Bank will expedite this food to the Mercado San Agustin kitchen; Michel Nischan, CEO of the Wholesome Wave Foundation and a professional chef, will be preparing the dishes. ✜
Closing the Hunger Gap: Inaugural Conference. Sept. 18–20. Tucson Marriott University Park. 880 E. Second St., Tucson, AZ.