Nourishing America Tour: UDC hosts more than 35 experts to tackle food equity and sustainability challenge

UDC, Food Tank, and Bowery Farming hosted a summit entitled “AgroEcology: Towards a Sustainable and Equitable Food Systems Model” on Wednesday, April 20, in the UDC Student Center on the Van Ness campus. Part of the Nourish America Tour, the event boasted more than 35 speakers, including UDC President Ronald Mason Jr. and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
The summit’s goal was to identify and highlight several of the food systems’ most difficult and urgent challenges, including how to create food equity and sustainability, especially for people of color. Providing a platform for innovative solutions and new actions, the event raised awareness and demonstrated the urgency surrounding food systems.
“Being able to grow and consume healthy, affordable and culturally significant food is a vital concept, now more than ever,” said President Mason, who gave the summit welcome. “This needs to happen now, not only for the environment but for all of earth’s inhabitants. The UDC community is committed to doing its part.”
Food Tank is sponsoring a UDC student ambassadorship and a $500 scholarship for first-time-in-college students, beginning in fall 2022.
Congresswoman Holmes stated that she was proud to represent the University of the District of Columbia.
“As urban as we are, UDC sets an example for what an urban university can do,” Holmes said. “UDC teaches agriculture and raises food to put in action what it teaches. This is an institution that exemplifies what can be done to promote good food.”
“I was so excited to do this event with Food Tank. It was a no-brainer for us,” said Russell. “This perfectly aligns with UDC’s goals. We must learn how to think, eat and be exposed to these sustainable systems.”
Another panelist, Tambra Stevenson, founder and CEO of Women and Girls Advancing Nutrition Diabetics and Agriculture (WANDA), spoke on Farming Practices and Nutritional Density. Stevenson emphasized the importance of reframing the terms “food desert” and “food apartheid,” citing that one is natural while the other represents systematic racism.
Fresh Farm D.C.’s Executive Director Hugo Mogollon spoke on Sustainable Agriculture and the Urban Environment. He cited why cities need to remove their dependency on centralized food systems and how farmers’ markets can serve as a hub to facilitate food distribution directly from farmers.
Other topics included Synergy and the Food Systems Model, which featured Mark Bucher of Feed the Fridge, Kate Urbank of Food Rescue U.S.–D.C., Austin Chikwendu of Capital Area Food Bank, D.C Region and Kia Williams “Chef Kay,” of Shaleafa’s Kitchen. Baltimore: A Case Study, included Taylor LaFave and Lindsay Adams of City of Baltimore Food Policy and Planning.
The event ended with a reception featuring live music and special guests. Chef Kay provided plant-forward dishes, local greens and meat, with D.C-local spirits and wine.
The summit was in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations North America, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program USA.

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