Fifty million people in America lived in food insecure households in 2009 according to Feeding America, and North Carolina is one of five states with statistically higher hunger rates than the national average. Getting food to the hungry is an urgent need.
“Communities must find efficient ways to get healthy food to those who are undernourished,” says Mark Jensen, a professor in the Wake Forest School of Divinity. “Lay people in churches, students and faculty at universities, directors of nonprofit organizations and local farmers get this — what they need are ways to energize their efforts by sharing ideas.”
The Come to the Table Piedmont Conference on February 18-19 — one of three regional conferences to discuss hunger relief in North Carolina — is designed to support this initiative. This year, the event will be held at Wake Forest.
“That Wake Forest is hosting the conference fits perfectly with our pro humanitate motto. The University is always looking for ways to both engage and be engaged by our community,” Jensen says. “Reynolda campus is a visible and natural gathering place for discussions on hunger relief, and exposing students to these kinds of conversations raises awareness.”
On Friday, over 20 workshops in the Benson Center will cover topics such as community garden development and campus programs to fight hunger and provide opportunities for networking. Gail O’Day, dean of the School of Divinity, will be leading the “Planting from the Pulpit” discussion to help leaders in faith communities imagine how they might address issues of food injustice in preaching and worship.
Individuals from front-line hunger-relief groups such as the Second Harvest Food Bank, Campus Kitchen, and Wake Saturdays — a student outreach group that serves a meal in Winston-Salem each Saturday — will be attending.
On Saturday, attendees will choose from a number of tour sessions and volunteer opportunities at local food ministries.