On February 9th, 2016, Shamell Bell and Sa Whitley hosted the launch of #TheUndercommons initiative #LiberateThePlate, a program designed to direct healthy foods and fresh produce to those most vulnerable to food insecurity. The launch was accompanied by presentations on food deserts and the lack of programs, stores, and overall investment in impoverished communities which lends to a systematic lack of nourishment in predominantly “of color” communities.
Thabisile Griffin’s presentation, “That Ain’t Food!: Food Deserts and Eating Healthy While Broke”, as well as the presentation “The Color of Health: disparities, invisibility, and bias” given by Teni Adewumi and Alexis Cooke, helped denote the importance of active-in-the-community initiatives like these which serve as one of many ways to weaponize The Undercommons against systems of oppression (in this case? environmental racism in the form of food inequity).
In the Study Hall hour between these presentations, participants in The Undercommons session were asked to write their own messages highlighting the reasons why food insecurity and hunger are such important issues, especially (though not necessarily) as it manifests as an aspect of the academic-industrial complex.
Because here’s the thing. The affliction that is poverty carries many indicators. Poverty touches upon the whole of one’s health – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. In children it can cause a poorer capacity to socialize, mature properly, and succeed academically. In all peoples, it is correlated with a higher rate of mortality. Poverty means greater vulnerability to both violence within a community and violence at the hands of the state (i.e. the police).
And poverty isn’t just about money. It is about a lack of access to resources which others take for granted, resources – like education – without which the socioeconomic system seems near impossible to succeed in. Resources – like healthy food, clean water, and adequate housing – without which communities are slowly but systematically starved.
The Black Panther Party was well aware of this when they launched their ‘Free Breakfast Program’ to help nourish their community, #LiberateThePlate aims to continue that work. Every week, two boxes filled with $26-worth of fresh produce are given away to a randomly selected student who has signed up to be included on the potential recipient list by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As the initiative is in its infancy, TheUndercommons has set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations in order to sustain #LiberateThePlate for as long as we can. If you are interested in donating, please don’t hesitate to click HERE! More information on the project can be found on our Initiatives page, which will be updated periodically as #LiberateThePlate gets underway.
Love and light.