Monday, March 25, 2013

Food Security at Thinkfast (St. Jean de Brebeuf High School).

THINKfast is program that provides an interactive way for high school and university students to learn about the serious issues of injustice in the world and to raise funds for Development and Peace.
We (myself and Julie Dwyer, the Peace and Development and volunteer co-ordinator at two high schools) weren't sure what to expect. Our last experience with THINKfast (we screened the I Am documentary a month ago at Cathedral Highschool) had not been as well received as we had hoped. In hindsight, it had been too long for a teen audience on a Friday night; after a week of school and who had been fasting since morning; were still fasting and had no hope of eating anything until the next day.

At St. Jean de Brebeuf school, we took a different approach.This time we brought in Farmer Dan who shared with the students shocking information about have terribly food insecure most of our communities really are: that if you had a plate of food and divided it into two parts, 15% would represent food grown in Canada, and 85%, food imported from the US. It was scary to know that if borders closed for any reason, we would be left without food.

Dan Morreale works at Plan B Organics.
We learned about the injustices linked to food production (farmers get very little pay for what they do, are often migrant workers working under harsh conditions).
Farmer Dan asked the audience how many of them were gardeners. One or two timid hands went up. He asked how many had parents who gardened. A few more hands. He asked then, how many had grandparents who kept a garden and nearly half the room had their hands up.

Dressed in carrot outfits (the Climate Carrots) Julie and I sneaked into his presentation, to the delight of the students, and had a short talk with Farmer Dan about which carrot (local or imported) was healthiest and happiest. We talked about the Hamilton Food Charter and efforts groups are involved in to get that underway to inform policy makers. These young people had questions which was heartening to hear.We shared resources and volunteer/engagement opportunities at Greening Sacred Spaces, Environment Hamilton and in the community. We encouraged youth to get involved in the large school garden they already have but draws too few volunteers.

After the break, we all watched a new film called A New Leaf: confronting a food crisis, that showed food distribution issues and concerns in Sahel, West Africa and how the famine there was averted.

As we were leaving the school, carrot costumes visible through the plastic bag they were in, some of the youth approached: "Ms. Can we use the carrot costumes to do  a Harlem Shake?" they asked.  Harlem Shake is an Internet meme (concept that goes viral on the internet) in the form of a video in which a group of people performs a comedy sketch accompanied by a short excerpt from the song "Harlem Shake."

"Absolutely!"  I agreed. What better way to get the message forever more engraved in young minds about the need to support and eat locally produced food than to witness two carrots shaking it up to the roots, surrounded by dancing, giddy teens?

video

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