A Letter to the Food Justice Movement

by Tim Huang, ’14

Dear Movement,

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but we live in a world that reinforces the idea of scarcity, the idea that “I should fear sharing with others because there are not enough resources for me and everyone else.” I believe that this idea has diminished our courage and taken away our initiative to act towards fulfilling our personal and collective needs. And today, more than ever, I am saddened to see that the majority of our world’s population, our human family, still faces the challenge of meeting their most basic needs – clean water, food, shelter, and other important resources for survival. While we throw away nearly 263 million pounds of food a day in the U.S., millions in our country and abroad go hungry and live in poverty. Despite this startling figure, my vision for the future is that we can make the dream of food equity possible – one day, all people, regardless of socio-economic level, will have access to healthy, nutritious foods that cultivate the Earth and their own communities. We all eat after all, and we thus all share together on this Earth in an act of communion. This is why I’m so passionate about food justice and food access, and I believe that this is why you’re a part of this movement as well.

I’m constantly challenged by the culture of scarcity that exists in our mindsets – a scarcity of willpower, money, resources, community, and several other things that prevent us from feeding the oppressed. “There isn’t enough food for everyone.” “Our population is growing.” “If we give them food, we won’t have enough for ourselves.” For me, it’s particularly difficult to change the conversation of needs and lacks to that of assets and gifts. I recognize, that now more than ever, we need to shift our collective principle from one of scarcity to one of abundance, from transaction to trust, and from isolation to community. Without this shift, we cannot succeed in empowering our communities to change the way we approach meeting each other’s needs for food. What if we said instead: “There is more than enough for everyone..take what you need”? How would this question create a community of generosity and design for abundance? How would this question reframe our own challenges and tendencies to hoard into a new perspective of shared responsibility? I challenge you, my friend, to start thinking in liberating ways, to shed the idea of scarcity and fear, and to co-create with our community members a new approach to feeding the world.

Indeed, the climb ahead is daunting, and I know we will faces challenges, but I also know that there is hope, and that we will reach the mountaintop together, with grace, with love, and with peace. There is no other way. Our human community is part of this movement. And you are too.

Sincerely,

Tim


My name is Tim, and I’m a sophomore majoring in Human Biology. Academically, I’m passionate about education, human development, social justice, environmental and cultural conservation, and sustainable change. Personally, I love gratitude, teaching, smiles, delicious vegetarian food, outdoors exercise (swimming, hiking, biking, running, etc.), gardening, traveling, and personal development.

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2 thoughts on “A Letter to the Food Justice Movement

  1. Sharon says:

    Almost everyday, a lot of food is wasted on campus, from the dining halls and row houses. SPOON manages to save a percentage of it, e.g. unserved food from the faculty club. But there’s a lot more that isn’t thought about, just thrown away. I’m convinced that we can find a creative and sustainable solution to food wastage on campus; I’d be glad to meet and discuss, if there’s anyone else out there who feels as strongly about this and wants to do something! (sharonxh@stanford.edu)

  2. Anonymous says:

    In terms of food, do you think that changing our eating habits or altering food production system holistically would be more important and urgent?

    In my opinion, there is something corrupt about food system in the US education system. Dining hall system is producing so much waste and encourages bad eating habits. By making students pay a certain amount of money and telling them to eat however much they can, they are compelled to eat more than they need, and the dining staff are required to produce more than they are naturally required to.

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