“It’s like a mini-family reunion” said one participant about the Come to the Table Conference that happened at Elon Community Church on Thursday, May 28. There were many encounters that unearthed the deep connections of energy and vibrancy formed through past projects. This family atmosphere was perfect to usher in the discussions that we were invited to participate in as attendees.
The day included workshops on everything from how the history of agriculture in the south impacts the food movement to local food access and SNAP/EBT at farmers markets. The live musicians during lunch contributed to a relaxing atmosphere and helped participants settle into conversation about our current food system. The keynote speaker was Dr. Psyche Williams-Farson, an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, who prompted some hard but thoughtful reflection on food movements and low-income neighborhoods.
Dr. Williams-Farson, who is also an affiliate faculty member of the Women’s Studies and African American Studies departments and the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity addressed all races and classes by saying, “We need to broaden our conversation about who is food insecure, and not just talk about black, poor communities.”
I contemplated and exchanged conversation about this one statement with a friend while at the outdoor farmers market, which took place in the church parking lot. Each conference participant received a $2 voucher to go toward a purchase. This was such a smart idea. Participants were able to get some physical activity by walking around, and to get sun exposure—which is usually not the case with an all-day conference. We also took action toward a better food system by supporting the local economy.
I left the conference full – full of questions, full of hope, full of love, and full of food (lunch came from the Curryblossom Café in Chapel Hill, and owner Vimala Rajendran co-led a workshop, “Feed the People with Love, then Food” ). It was a great day. I am looking forward to incorporating what I learned into my everyday practice, sharing this information, and of course, I am looking forward to the next Come to the Table Conference.