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Neighbors join fight at food summit
Stakeholders gather May 15 at JCSU
Published Thursday, May 9, 2019 10:11 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Philip Otienoburu, director for the Center of Renewable Energy & Sustainability at Johnson C. Smith University, is a panelist at the Charlotte Food & Social Mobility Summit May 15 at JCSU.

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Johnson C. Smith University cannot solve Charlotte’s food insecurity issue, but its work can be a catalyst for change.

A 75-minute segment at the May 15 Charlotte Food & Social Mobility Summit focuses on community-driven solutions, highlighting what the invitation-only program describes as, “building community wealth and connection.”

A panel moderated by Little Sugar Creek Community Garden’s Nadine Ford will discuss the existing work across faith, community and academia to address access. Panelists include: Cheryl Emmanuel, the senior health manager at Mecklenburg County, as well as the founder of Village HeartBEAT; Camino Center Executive Director Grace Nystrum; JCSU Professor Philip Otienoburu, associate professor of biology and director for the Center of Renewable Energy & Sustainability at JCSU.

“If our efforts have brought some light to the issue, and we don’t take all the credit—there are a number of organizations that have been working on this for a while, but yes, this is the kind of movement we expect, and have been wishing to see in the Charlotte community,” Otienoburu said. “It’s something that we intend to continue working on. It’s something that we definitely invite others to participate in.”

Sustainability Village, which oversees JCSU’s program to address food insecurity through sustainable solutions, earned a $100,000 American Heart Association grant on April 29. The project officially launched in 2013, and was the brainchild of professor Joseph Fail, who taught ecology at Smith and worked with the university for 23 years. Fail, who died in 2012, sought ways to utilize science to target socioeconomic issues. Otienoburu was hired by former university president Ron Carter that same year to spearhead the project. What started with 18 raised beds for planting has expanded to provide produce at local farmers’ markets.

“JCSU is not going to do it on its own,” Otienoburu said. “It is way too complex, and it’s way too big for us to address as an institution on its own. At the end of the day, JCSU is an academic institution. Of course we are looking for some academic value for our students, but we are also giving back as an institution. We are giving back to the community as much as we can with our ideas on how some of these really significant challenges can be addressed, using the expertise of the facility here.”

“Unlocking the Potential of Charlotte’s Food System and Farmers’ Markets,” a three-year study released in July 2018 by the City of Charlotte, highlighted that the region trails its peers when providing equitable access to food, establishing livelihoods for farmers, as well as place-making via food. Tying this with the 2017 Equality of Opportunity Project, which ranked Charlotte 50th out of America’s 50 largest cities for economic mobility, reminded Charlotte stakeholders it has a problem. Economic mobility and diseases brought on by improper nutrition are linked.  

“One of the things that we are going to try to see through this is, ‘how do institutional partnerships work hand-in-hand with community efforts?’” Otienoburu said. “It is promising to be a very interesting conversation.”

The all-day summit will take place at the Duke Endowment. Duke Endowment, Novant Health and Winer Family Foundation are sponsors.


No where in this article does it state where and what time the panel will meet...would love to attend??
Posted on May 11, 2019

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Neighbors join fight at food summit

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