Organization coming to campus is a ‘Band-Aid’ to a more complex issue
Many of you probably know that the organization Feed My Starving Children is coming to campus Saturday. Though there is obviously a great need for feeding children who may not have food, I am conflicted about the nature of the idea of feeding children in poor countries. I don’t mean that the actual act of feeding people should be questioned; of course that’s good! The issue I see is more at a structural level of empowering people to be able to choose their food instead of just giving them food from far away.
This is called food sovereignty, defined by the United Nations Forum on Food Sovereignty, who coined the term as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”
Helping people become food sovereign turns the focus of hunger from just giving people food from far away to a focus toward systems that may continue to produce food, like giving money to create gardens or letting the people who live in a place come up with a way to produce their food. I realize this can be easier said than done if you’re just going day-by-day for food or (possibly due to cli- mate change) the land you live on is desert- like and not able to produce food. Though it maybe complex to address, food sovereignty worldwide should be a goal to reach for.
That all being said, I see and recognize the immediate need for food that FMSC offers people. I also see the power it brings of getting people in the United States to come together to do good. The Concordia event will bring the Concordia and Fargo-Moor- head community together to provide food for 544,320 children. I see FMSC as a Band-Aid to solving a bigger, more complex issue of food sovereignty. Where there is money spent on processing foods, bringing supplies from Minneapolis to Fargo-Moorhead for us to pack the food and on sending it off to various parts of the world, there can also be money spent that directly empowers people in these places, where they live, to choose their own food.
Erica Bjelland is a senior Global Studies and Environmental Studies double major hailing from Decorah, IA. She likes to keep her iCal full by being co-president of the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA), a member of the President’s Sustainability Council and Student Government Association, and a bassist in the Concordia Orchestra. When she’s not living off her calendar, Erica spends time learning guitar, running, drinking coffee, fan-girling over Aldo Leopold, and discovering new ways to cook black beans.