Noreen Springstead

Want More Progress? Look to the Community First

By Noreen Springstead

My most invigorating days are when I'm working side by side with our grassroots partners in the field. A few weeks ago a team of WhyHunger staff got to volunteer on a sun-drenched morning at the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger's Far Rockaway Farm. The cool ocean air added to the delight of getting out of the office and into a quiet oceanside community filled with abundant possibility. We got to work weeding so that the beets, carrots, kale, swiss chard, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes could breathe and soak up the rich nutrients in the soil. We made sure to save some of the vegetable leaves to feed the more than a dozen laying hens clucking as they roamed their coop. There is a bustle on the farm with teens growing thousands of pounds of food annually and managing a weekly farm stand. The buzz of activity, their strategy to employ and uplift youth, and the transformation and beautification that I witnessed in the community make me hopeful for our world.

Communities across the U.S. and around the world have tremendous assets in people power and their own solutions to ending hunger and poverty. When we reconfigure our approach and stop seeing communities as deficient, but rather recognize and invest in their abundant potential, from empowered people as the truest assets to community-led projects and initiatives, that is when true transformation can happen. And we are seeing that success happen, in Far Rockaway, The Bronx, Detroit, Bloomington, Seattle, Tucson, the Mississippi Delta and Puerto Rico - just to name a few. Farming in harmony with the land, by using methods like agroecology, creates environmental resiliency and a more dependable local food supply for the people who live in those neighborhoods and WhyHunger continues to support efforts like these across the globe.

Right now, the agricultural and farming communities in Puerto Rico need your help. Our partner, Organización Boricuá, is hard at work to recover from Hurricane Maria. With little to no help from federal aid, they are working to support farmers who have lost everything and rebuild infrastructure. We know firsthand how important it is to ensure their stability and are working to direct immediate resources to their work.

Join me this fall in reinvesting in community-led solutions and reimagining your own ideas about whose assets, ideas and solutions you want to support.


Agricultural devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria.

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