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Food Patriots at IPS!

Last week IPS sponsored a screening of a documentary in progress called Food Patriots. The documentary looked at our broken food system and ways that ordinary folks are working to change that system. It was a wonderful event where we not only watched a great film, but celebrated the work of Chicago volunteers with a reception in their honor. In IPS’s MA in Social Justice and Community Development, we’ve found that a good number of our students come to the program from long-term service positions. This is one reason we offer advanced standing for long-term volunteer work. At the reception, we were able to honor volunteers from Amate House, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, City Year, Americorps, Episcopal Service Corps and other local non-profits. We also had a great Q&A with filmmaker Jeff Spitz and some of the folks in the film. But rather than tell you more about this wonderful event, I thought I’d let you read a blog from one of our attendees, Jondae Scott, who works with Americorps at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Here’s what Jondae had to say:

As an Americorps member serving for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, it is often that I have to think about where a client’s food will come from, but mostly in the sense of prepared, or ready-to-buy food.  It was one thing to not know where your next meal will come from, but my state of food insecurity was not knowing where any of my food actually comes from.   While being raised and currently living in a food desert, which is described as an area or district with limited to no access to foods that support and sustain a healthy and nutritious diet, I almost became complacent with this particular state of food insecurity.

The truth is, for the average person with food insecurity, food’s origin is rarely a first concern.

With that being understandable, it’s important to ask why America can’t seem to produce wholesome, sustainable food to those in need and make it accessible to everyone?  This seems to be the unanswered question in “Food Patriots,” a movie about everyday people who dedicate their time and lives to help correct America’s system of food production and distribution.

On April 6, 2013 the MA in Social Justice and Community Development at Loyola in Chicago held a screening of “Food Patriots,” hosted by Melissa Browning, Graduate Program Director. I had the pleasure of attending this event with my fellow Americorps member Kayana Jordan, agency support for Breakthrough Ministries, who also felt a personal connection to this topic.

In lieu of National Volunteer Month, I thought this event was a great way to kick off the month that recognizes, honors, and encourages volunteers in America. “Patriots” is geared by volunteers and people who are tired of not having control of something so simple-where their food comes from. Volunteers from Americorps, Loyola, and other organizations were honored and encouraged to pass on the spirit of service.

The movie follows Spitz’s story from his son’s food borne illness and his wife’s dedication to controlling where their family’s food comes from. When their backyard chicken farm is banned due to city ordinance, the family sets out on a journey to find out why wholesome food and produce is so hard to come by, and expensive, while processed food is highly advertised, accessible, and cheap. Their story becomes one of many; people being tired of feeling hopeless when it comes to the nutrition and source of food, the most common necessity!

There will be screenings happening across Illinois, and hopefully nationwide, so please go out and support this well directed and well proposed movie. It made me more aware of what I’m eating, what food corporations I’m supporting, and how easy it is to start taking control of my food! “Food Patriots” may be one of many films about government regulations on food, but can definitely be singled out as a personal journey that leads into a national crisis that deserves much more exposure and awareness.

Thank you to Jeff Spitz and Melissa Browning for taking your time to host this event and helping us all take one more step to becoming Food Patriots.

–Jondae Scott, Americorps Member for the Greater Chicago Food Depository