Meet the new H-FLI Fellows!

by Alison Killeen

This weekend, we launch the inaugural cohort of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon’s Hunger-Free Leadership Institute (H-FLI)! This group of twelve Fellows will study, reflect and take action together towards ending hunger in Oregon. This first gathering of passionate and intelligent activists is something Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon (PHFO) has been in the works for a long time—we are beyond excited to finally meet them in person!

Over the summer, we had the privilege to read all of the essays that applicants submitted for consideration to H-FLI; an activity that was inspiring, renewing and admittedly, difficult—because we could not admit everyone to the fellowship. Many of the insights shared in the essays have continued to stick with me over the weeks since we first began receiving applications. By way of introduction to the H-FLI Fellow, we decided to share some of their insights with our readers. Below, you will find sentences and paragraphs written by the Fellows as they considered questions and shared their beliefs about hunger, community, food and social justice.

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Alison Delancey: “Food is medicine. It creates a foundation for wellness, strengthens families, creates community connections, is pleasure and sustenance. I passionately believe that every human being has the right to eat food that nourishes their best self.”

Angie Stapleton: “I am driven by my passion to see life flourish, a passion that has been nurtured by my experiences and education. This passion drives me to use my brief time on this earth for the betterment of all.”

Beatriz Gutierrez: “I am very interested in the policies that end hunger. Food insecurity is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed as such, provided food and resources is only a temporary fix to a larger issue of our society. I am committed to making that kind of systemic change, and critically examining our society for its shortfalls and where we can improve.”

Ben Carr: “Ending hunger is a noble endeavor, and I think it can be done while thinking carefully about the consequences of food production. I want to take my desire to help the poor and hungry and identify solutions for the greater good of Oregon and the U.S.”

Jackie Leung: “I am interested in joining the PHFO’s Leadership Institute because of its mission in working with communities to end hunger before it begins so that Oregonians do not experience hunger. Specifically, I am interested in networking with other anti-hunger professionals from the legislature to community leaders whose goals intersect to end hunger for all Oregonians.”

Jennifer Carter: “Great-grandma Mueller was a wonderful cook. This is the family myth. She grew a garden that sprawled across the valley lawn of her Ozark home. In addition to her six children and large extended family, GG Mueller fed every man and woman passing through in need. She had been sent away as a child to live with a series of relatives. GG understood need. GG greeted each stranger on her porch with her hands filled with food. No one left hungry. I knew this story before I was aware of the phrase ‘food security.'”

Joshua Thomas: “When I was in D.C. for a conference, a woman from Witnesses to Hunger expressed her adversities of being a single mother on a limited income. Her heartfelt story reminded me of my mother’s experience, and after the storytelling, I asked her what inspired her to share such a vulnerable story. She explained that she was inspired through community engagement, and at that moment, I realized I want to inspire others to share their stories to influence systemic change in the state of Oregon.

Kirsten Juul: “Access to food is a human right. It is necessary for the health and prosperity of society. Food is life and should be clean, safe, reliable and easily accessible without barriers, shame or blame. Food should be a celebration and satisfy the soul!”

Kristin Heying: “I believe we should be providing the same basic needs to everyone: affordable childcare, health insurance, healthy food, affordable housing, livable wages and a quality education. Peoples’ lives are changed by providing resources that create security and open up opportunities.”

Olivia Percoco: “There are core beliefs I hold for our food system: The first is that food production should not come at the cost of irreversible environmental damage. That includes deforestation, climate change, erosion, etc. No earth, no food—so to me it only makes sense that we be good stewards of the land. My second core value is that everybody has the right to food, and everybody has the right to define their food system.”

Paul Delurey: “My growing interest and desire to become more involved is largely based on my confusion, lack of understanding, and growing aghastment (new word) at the realities around me. Food and shelter are fundamental to life. Why as a society are we spending so much of our life’s breath on better graphics and entertainment, and becoming progressively more numb to the human condition of many (and ourselves)? All have to rise, or none truly can.”

Vic Huston: “Ending hunger means that everyone has access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods all the time. Folks need to be nourished in order to be healthy, thrive and grow in directions they wish to go and explore in life. It is through good nutrition and health that we can better place ourselves in positions where we feel empowered if we choose to make changes in our lives such as feeling more confident to work or go to school and even participate in our communities and families.”