This article was originally posted on March 27th.
On March 7, former U.S. congressman and UN ambassador of food and agriculture Tony Hall spoke at UD about hunger in Dayton and globally, sustainable agriculture and nonprofit work. His speech is part of a university-wide effort to engage more with the Dayton community and offer opportunities for students to promote Marianist values.
For Hall, hunger is not simply a moral issue. He claimed it is a spiritual issue, one found in every chapter of the Bible. He also said it’s an economic issue because $169 billion is spent annually to support the impoverished, and it’s a security issue because people living in hunger may lose hope and turn to alternative lifestyles.
According to Hall, the root cause of hunger in Dayton is a lack of viable employment. Since NCR and automobile companies left the Dayton area, the region has lost around 40,000 jobs. Hall said to counteract this, resources need to be invested into Dayton Public Schools. This is because local students have a vested interest and innovative ideas that serve as untapped brain power.
The former congressman developed the Hall Hunger Initiative as a grassroots campaign to combat hunger in Dayton. Set up through United Way, it acts as a catalyst for cooperation among groups, pantries, universities and corporations. Its mission is to make Dayton hunger-free.
Hall also is helping to raise funds for a co-op grocery store, which is a food distribution outlet organized among nearby residents as opposed to being privately or publicly owned. He’s raised $2.85 million of the needed $4.3 million. It will provide fresh produce to local Dayton residents within walking distance, and any resident of the area can apply for a stake in the store, even university students.
In addition to discussing hunger in Dayton, Hall talked about hunger globally. He highlighted the importance of women, particularly mothers, in the Global South and in other impoverished areas. He said educating mothers would help to bring these countries out of extreme poverty. Specifically, women should learn how to boil food and water, read and write and be provided with microfinancing options to enable them to build businesses that sustain families.
Hall’s speech impacted many of the attendees and educated them about the interconnected issues associated with hunger and poverty at the local and international levels. It offered many opportunities for students to be informed and get involved in advancing the common good.
To become involved with alleviating hunger in Dayton, interested students can visit Gem City Market’s website and become a member. Students also can participate on campus through the Mission of Mary cooperative and the Meals in Flight team.