Food and Freedom Riders bring a message of food justice to the South and Midwest.
Summer is the season for awareness-raising road trips. The latest one we're excited about is the Food and Freedom Rides, which is spreading the word about our broken food system in communities across the South and Midwest. Kicking off in Birmingham, Alabama with meetings with civil rights leaders today and yesterday, the movement pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the anti-segregation Freedom Rides that roiled the South and galvanized the civil rights movement.
The 12-day journey will bring the students from the deep south to Detroit. "We'll be breaking ground on a community garden in Mississippi, we'll be breaking bread with farmers in southern Illinois," Anim Steel, director of sponsoring organization Live Real, said of the trip's itinerary. Along the way, the 12 traveling activists hope to "expose injustice in the food system, and reveal real solutions in both urban and rural communities" by putting a spotlight on local food activism.
"Food is one of those issue that's like a hidden crisis," said Steel. "This trip is the way to link those communities together and make a bigger point about the need for real food."
Mississippi and Alabama, two stops along the way, rank first and second in the nation for obesity, respectively. Communities of color face the toughest barriers to accessing healthy food; it's expected that half of children of color born this decade will develop diet-induced diabetes. While the original Freedom Rides campaigned against the South's segregation policies, "We are riding with the hope that hunger, diabetes, and heart disease will be as strange to the school kids of tomorrow as reading about 'Whites Only' signs are today," Steel said.
Check out their blog to stay updated on the trip.