We’re in another election year, and the gloves are off. Negativity and demonetization are the order of the day. It’s contagious. It demeans us. It makes politics a dirty word. But politics is not just about winning. Groups of people don’t have to make decisions through a process that hurts and inflames. Why not unite in a spirit of mutual respect, a desire for the good of all, and the effort to achieve common goals? Sound like a fantasy? Actually, it’s happening right here in San Luis Obispo County and around the country with regard to something most of us take for granted – food.
We at the Food Bank have been privileged to be the lead agency in the formation of the San Luis Obispo County Food System Coalition, a consortium of diverse organizations and the government that are often on the opposite side of issues, now working together on a Strategic Plan to address concerns in our county with regard to how food is grown, distributed, and consumed. Is the abundance of food production in our county accessible to our local population of all income levels? Does it promote local agriculture and the development of a diverse farming community? Is it environmentally sustainable and restorative? Does food production provide a just wage to farm workers while making a profit for farmers? Does it make our community healthier and strengthen the social fabric that holds us together as a society? These are the questions the Food System Coalition will grapple with over time. It will provide regular opportunities for stakeholders and experts in their fields to grow in their understanding of one another and form mutual friendships seeking a better quality of life for all of us – especially those who have no place at the table to speak for themselves. In our effort to build a Hunger Free Community, we just might rid ourselves of dirty politics.