Closing the Hunger Gap 2013 conference was a huge success!
Download the Closing The Hunger Gap Conference Report
In late September 2013, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona led over 300 representatives from 170 different organizations – food banks, health organizations, school districts, farms, and universities – in three days of critical discussion, resource sharing, and action planning towards ending hunger in America.
This was a historic moment in food banking, and opened up a range of new opportunities:
- Food banks and allied organizations formed the connections that are leading to national strategy around long-term hunger relief.
- We now have resources available for best practices from across the country.
- Building a network of relationships and partnerships has created collective strength.
- The next Closing the Hunger Gap conference has already been announced for 2015, hosted by the Oregon Food Bank.
On the first day, participants chose one of three tours, to see the places and meet the people involved with community food security work in action. Tour groups visited the Community Food Bank main Tucson branch, the Nogales branch bank, Caridad Community Kitchen, and Las Milpitas farm, as well as partner organization sites, like Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, Manzo Elementary, and the San Xavier Coop Farm. The second day, representatives from over 50 organizations shared stories, practical tools, and led discussions through participatory breakout sessions. Main themes included community organizing, policy advocacy, supporting local food producers, evaluation, economic development, social justice, nutrition, and education. During the day, participants wrote responses to the question, “Ten years from now, what impact have food banks had towards achieving community food security?” which were combined to build our collective national vision. On the final day of the conference, small groups planned what action steps need to happen in the next year to move us towards that vision, and committed to taking those actions- now having the necessary tools, resources, connections, and collective support to do so.
Participants have already been informing us of some of the actions they are taking in their communities in result of their experience at the conference, and have shared very positive feedback about their experience. Comments from participants include:
“We are still excited by what we learned at the conference and look forward to building the local, regional, and national conversation and work. Thank you all! Job well done!”
-Jill Staton-Bullard, CEO of Interfaith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, NC
“I want to take a moment to commend you, and of course your staff and planning team, for the tremendous leadership you provided to produce a wonderful conference for so many enthusiastic people last week. Our experience was excellent, and I was particularly impressed with Friday’s planning.”
-Cherie Jamason, CEO of the Northern Nevada Food Bank
“What a great gathering you folks convened and facilitated! I know it was a lot of work with many moving parts and it was seamless. It was great to hear such convergence from many other food bank friends about not only ‘feeding the line’ but exploring innovative ways to ‘end the line’.”
-Kim Dorniden, Strategic Planning Director, Mid-Ohio Food Bank