Alliance to Hunger Hunger Summit

Alliance to End Hunger Summit Reflection

By: Celia Myerov (Expansion Associate) & Rabbi Lily Solochek (Director of Programs and Education)

The Programs and Advocacy team at Nazun had the opportunity to attend the 2022  Hunger Free Communities Virtual Summit, over the course of two days earlier in November. The Alliance to End Hunger, brought together leaders ranging from community members, government entities, non-profit organizations, and students, to explore solutions and strategies for hunger in the United States on both a micro and macro level. 

The sessions covered a variety of topics centering around hunger free communities. Sessions were held on a variety of topics; ranging from panel discussions on the impacts the midterm elections results could have on the future of fighting hunger, to an indepth look at the Farm Bill and its impacts on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Speakers focused on the need for local community input and bipartisan support for the renewal of the Bill, LGBTQ+ communities experience with food insecurity, the trauma that it causes, and uplifting the voices of those with lived experience. We explored how intersectional identities are more highly impacted, and listened as refugees and immigrants shared their stories. 

One session that stood out to us focused on building shared community power through effective coalition work. This session was led by Mary Herbert and Katie Nye, both at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. Nye shared Baylor’s model and toolkits for creating strong coalitions, including focusing on a common agenda, establishing achievable goals, fostering mutually reinforcing activities, and maintaining continuous communication between all members. Herbert shared some of her own experience as the West Texas Regional Director, adding that effective coalitions need to start with a project together so they don’t get stuck in the “talking phase” and give everyone achievable wins from the outset. As part of Nazun’s college campus work we encourage our students to build relationships with other student run organizations and Baylor’s model for coalition building gives us another toolkit to share with our campus chapters for effectively creating these partnerships.

As Mary Herbert shared the importance of effective coalition and togetherness, Barbie Izquierdo, the recipient of the 2022 Global Citizen Prize Award, echoed those messages and others, in her powerful keynote address at the summit’s closing session. Izquierdo, currently serving as the Director of Neighbors Engagement at Feeding America, is an activist and advocate with lived expertise in fighting hunger and the exploitation of people of color, who have been affected by unfair policies and systemic injustices. Her message was powerful, and her story inspiring. She reminded us of the importance of transformative relationships, and of including people with lived experience in our work. Izquierdo’s words were a poignant way to bring the summit to a close; as she stated “ “Is it enough to be invited? Is it okay to be asked what YOU learned and not what we can learn FROM you”. 

 At Nazun, we strive to empower the next generation of leaders, but acknowledge we cannot do this work without also learning from our students and community members. “Hunger is a community wide symptom of exclusion, of not having enough; enough nutritious food, enough income, enough power,  enough represented voice” (Susannah Morgan, CEO at Oregon Food Bank). Morgan and Izquierdo’s words remind us of our duty to uplift our students’ experiences, knowledge, and ideas in their fight to eradicate hunger on their campuses. Barbie Izquierdo started her speech with a quote, “Hunger: It’s right here in the United States. It could be right next door and you would never know because people are too afraid to talk about it.” One challenge working to solve campus hunger is that it remains a somewhat unknown crisis to many people. At Nazun we know that at least 39% of college students are food insecure and yet we see in anecdotal conversations outside of our office that this number still surprises most people. Even at most hunger coalitions and summits, college hunger is rarely, if ever discussed. We hope that through our continued efforts, our campus chapters and community programs will continue to raise awareness and increase advocacy efforts to end campus hunger. If you’d like to see if your state has Campus Free Hunger legislation, take a look at this list or write to your congressional representatives to ask them to support it.