Monday, October 05, 2015

A Brief (and very Abbreviated) Account of World Food Day Commemorations in Albuquerque

"Millions of poor people face hunger and poverty this year and next because of droughts and erratic rains as global temperatures reach new records, and because of the onset of a powerful El Niño – the climate phenomenon that develops in the tropical Pacific and brings extreme weather to several regions of the world."  -from  Oxfam America briefing note (published on Oct. 1, 2015) entitled "Entering Unchartered Waters"

World Food Day has been observed in Albuquerque every October 16 in one way or another over at least the past couple of decades. The commemoration was created by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1979, and the first observance took place globally  in 1981.

There was once a local group of volunteers that planned an event around a national telecast featuring a panel of experts. The event, which coincided with the national events held by the U.S.-Canada World Food Day organization, was usually held at the Technical Vocational Institute (TVI), which is now Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), or at the University of New Mexico. The event also included local speakers, panel discussions and special recognition for anti-hunger efforts.  For example, organizers in 2006 recognized the efforts of the (now-defunct) New Mexico Task Force to End Hunger to convince mayors of 103 communities to commit to end hunger. 

At about the same time that the momentum to hold the event faded locally, the local volunteers for New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps stepped in to hold their own commemoration of World Food Day on the Saturday closest to October 16. Over the past three years, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church and First Congregational Church have opened their doors for the event, which has featured a Hunger Banquet, a discussion on how to support local farmers by buying food locally, the importance of women farmers, and much more.

An Invitation to the 2015 Commemoration
The fourth annual World Food Day commemoration sponsored by New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps will be held on Saturday, October 17, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Albuquerque Mennonite Church, 1300 Girard Blvd. NE (map) in Albuquerque. Enjoy a free locally sourced community dinner and live entertainment, but please RSVP online via this link.

The event will  celebrate small farmers, locally and globally, but will again place an emphasis on the impact of climate change on food production. This connection between global warming and hunger has been a common theme for local World Food Day celebrations, including the one that the previous organizing group held at UNM in 2008.

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