Over the past decade, we’ve worked with and have connections to people in forty states. Most of those connections have been established through housing policy work. We realized from the beginning how important it was to identify and assimilate the “good” programs out there – the ones actually helping low-income people. Of course, networking wasn’t as easy as it is now, with technology and whatnot. So a lot of time was spent traveling to nearly all those forty states. But introducing a “good” program in a new state meant Missouri could benefit from Utah, or Ohio could help Louisiana.
In our food security work, we think it’s important to provide information about states for the same reasons — it shows both the need and the good work out there. Every state, large and small in geography or population has people addressing food security. Both rural and urban settings have food deserts. We’ve got friends in 31 states on our OriginalGreen page, and we’ve been providing information about their states. Posts have focused on SNAP/EBT (foodstamp) acceptance at farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture for low-income residents, urban agriculture training/work programs, mobile food programs and community gardens for homeless people, among other stories. Every post is about how a community is working on food security and anti-poverty issues by growing food.
The information isn’t provided just to let people living in those states know about local programs, but also to inform everyone about the variety of programs across the country. As with our housing policy work, we want to share inspiring food programs and provide models for change. If it’s shown enough times how many programs are out there and how great the need is, maybe people will be interested enough to support or start a program in their own community. Maybe we can help connect folks in the same or different states who face similar issues.
So we gather states, because there’s a certain power in knowing we all have the same things going on and can help each other address them.