Local and global hunger issues interconnect

By Shannon Keough
February 19, 2009

The link between the dignity of human beings and the impact that humanity has on legislation was the driving force behind the presentations that were given on Cabrini’s fifth annual Founder’s Day.

The global food crisis was the theme of this year’s Founder’s Day, held on Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the Grace Hall Atrium, at which two speakers, Abiosseh Davis and Dr. Mariana Chilton, spoke on the topic both globally and domestically.

“Food security is a growing problem where people may occasionally have access to food but not on a dependable level because of war, other kinds of violence, environmental factors or corruption in the government,” Mary Laver, director of international partnerships, said.

Interaction was a key component of the evening. Davis, project associate for the Global Women’s Project at the Center for Concern in Washington, D.C., encouraged the audience to shout out what they thought were the major contributors to the global food crisis. Among their answers were climate, disease and bad policies.

Around the room there was a photo exhibit, an advocacy table set up in order for students to write letters to their senators and a spirituality center where students could show their support for Cabrini Sisters and send their prayers and encouragement to the Witnesses to Hunger.

Chilton, assistant professor in the public health school at Drexel University, brought her photo exhibit Witnesses to Hunger. Her vision was to allow mothers to document their lives and the issues that block their access to getting nutritional food for themselves and their families. Her project entailed giving cameras to 40 women in order to make their voices heard by legislators.

While Chilton knows a common reaction may be pity for these people, she hopes they will feel outraged enough to be empowered and change policy. Chilton’s idea with Witnesses to Hunger was “to lift the blinds between those who have and have not.” Beth Briggs, junior psychology and sociology major and CRS food security ambassador, talked about the importance of students understanding the global and domestic connection of food security.

She believes you cannot think about one without thinking about the other. Chilton emphasized that although she works locally in Philadelphia, Pa., with hunger issues, she sees Philadelphia as a part of the globe and being affected as well.

Davis’ argument was that, “people should be at the center of everything you do,” instead of putting profits at the top of everything.

“It’s really exciting that people [at Cabrini] are using the common good as the basis of how they envision the world,” Davis said.

Founder’s Day was begun by former Cabrini President Antoinette Iadarola in 2001 when Sister Ursula Infante, founder of Cabrini, passed away at age 104. The day takes place during the week of Infante’s birthday, Feb. 18, and continues to reflect on the social justice values and global vision of the Cabrini sisters.

The CRS food security ambassadors Briggs, Chris Cantwell, Ashley Cook and Shannon Keough assisted in the planning of the event.

Laver thinks that the ultimate answers and solutions to food insecurity will come from this generation.

She thinks that we are at a point in history where we can solve this despite the hard economic times.

“The more people voice their opinions, the more legislators will want to take action,” Pat Walsh, junior English major, said.

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Shannon Keough

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