Something I've been thinking about is the transfer of power. It was interesting to me to be at a conference about networking for equitable food access, and not have any of the recipients at the table. It made me think of how many times I have been at the table as the voice for low income families, but I really should be taking it a step further and bringing families with me to meetings. Our participants should be telling the wellness committees and networks their needs and how best to reach them directly, not just through us. It's made me think about how I can build more empowerment into my work.
"Food access is inherently about equity and we need to make sure everyone is at the table." #healthequity #mnfoodaccess @CrystalEchoHawk— MN Food Charter (@mnfoodcharter) November 10, 2015
I was fortunate enough to be part of the Hunger and Adolescence breakout session that included a panel with three dynamic Duluth teens and their teacher. The teens shared ideas on what would or would not encourage students to participate in food assistance programs. The teacher mentioned there were several homeless children at the school. This was new information to one of the teens. As the students were leaving, I overheard her tell the teacher, "We need to do something for the homeless kids, I think we could... [did not hear the rest]." Wow, within an hour, she had already come up with some ideas. This reminded me how important it is to utilize the power of teens. They have a lot of good ideas and want to make a difference.
"High school is all about being independent" -Duluth East student discussing why she may not want to use a food shelf #mnfoodaccess— Alexandra Larson (@AlexLarsonRD) November 9, 2015
I think the most profound take away for me as a new SNAP-Ed educator would be something along the lines of an overarching thought process. Regardless of place there is great need, some very unique to the location and other clearly parallel across the state. Yet in all of this need, if we are not prepared to do great work together across Minnesota, we will not succeed. Everything (one) thrives together or dies together. So I, in super rural Minnesota need north Minneapolis to have great healthy equity, just as they need to hear my rural voice and see health equity improvement in my communities.
From Curtis Ogden on the topic of “Network Features,” I learned that people have the desire to share what really matters to them. Ask participants to tell their life story in seven minutes.
Three more ideas:
- Those with white privilege can use it for good to bring the underserved to the table.
- How we bring ourselves to the work matters. Never assume you are the expert. Be open to be what participants want to learn and share rather than what you think they should learn from you. Make it easy for people to interact. Be adaptable and accepting of unique forms of sharing and expression.
- Embrace love for transformation. You may already have a professional relationship with someone at your table so work to build a personal relationship. Help them set their education, degree, initials after their name at the door. See, listen, and show your appreciation for what this person is choosing to share with you about themselves. Their passion will eventually lead to their work.
Hunger will continue to exist without doing.