On Tuesday February 13th I attended a meeting of the Tri-County Food Alliance. I found out about the event through Dr. Lavender at the Office of Sustainability where I work. The Alliance is a new organization dedicated to aiding the issue of food insecurity in our area. There were probably about 15 people in attendance, from all professions, segments of the community, and backgrounds, including Professor Saunders.
Until this semester, I was unaware that food and housing insecurity was such a problem, not only in the community, but on the campus of the College of Charleston as well. For those who don’t know, food insecurity is a situation in which a person does not have regular access to a substantial amount of food that meets their nutritional needs. Housing insecurity is when an individual does not have a home of his or her own. Though this includes the classic idea of homelessness, it also includes individuals who move from place to place, living with friends in the area. According to the YOUth Count, a study recently conducted by the Riley Center on the College of Charleston campus, 30% of Charleston students do not have homes of their own and 1 in 7 students do not have reliable access to healthy food. Knowing this now, through my work at the Office of Sustainability I hope to set up a coordinated, joint initiative across campus to tackle this issue.
The Tri-County Food Alliance is attempting to do the same, except on a much larger scale. At the meeting I attended, representatives of farmers, the faith community, and different organizations focused on food insecurity in the area, gathered to introduce themselves and discuss how they could work together to help the struggling members of the community. Being that the organization is very new (the meeting I attended was only the third time the group had convened) not much was set in stone. However, the group did manage to identify several obstacles to be overcome in the future. These included: access of aid to senior citizens, how to work with local farmers, where to get supplies to distribute in the community, and which areas were of the greatest concern.
Personally, I felt a bit out of place at the meeting. Firstly, because the meeting was a potluck and I felt rude for not bringing anything. More than that, though, sustainability is a relatively new passion of mine and I am very inexperienced as far as service work and organizing something on the scale that the Tri-County Food Alliance is setting out to do. Despite this, I very much admire the mission the Alliance has dedicated itself to and the individuals who are giving up their time and resources to help those in need in the community. As well, I very much appreciated the opportunity to see the necessities of an initiative tackling food insecurity and plan to use this experience in my own work at the Office of Sustainability.