Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Food week wraps up with banquet, lively discussion

Politics class ‘Whitman in the Global Food System’ wrapped up two weeks of events with a Farm Forum on Tuesday, Nov. 18th. It was the last of a half dozen events that were planned to highlight the food issues that effect Whitman and the world.

Students split into groups with specific areas to research and then plan their projects. Events included a visit to a Whitman-owned farm, a pasta making workshop, a series of radio shows on the food crisis, and a banquet highlighting hunger issues.

At the Hunger Banquet, students were given an alternative identity when they entered the Reid Campus Ballroom. Based on their identities as various world citizens, participants were assigned a specific amount and type of food to eat.

“We want students to experience inequalities in the local food system as well as the world,” said sophomore Claire Noone, who organized the event along with first-year Hannah Joseph and sophomores Dana Bialeck, Naomi Gibbs and Molly Knell.

The event featured Pat King, director of local food bank the Pantry Shelf. King discussed the dynamics of hunger in the Walla Walla Valley and the complexities of running a food bank.

“Areas will find themselves inundated with pinto and black beans even though they have clients that do not like them or know what to do with them. Other populations like us want pinto and black beans badly but cannot manage to get them,” King said.

Professor Aaron Barbarow-Strain was impressed with the way the hunger project “connected students to a very scary and deepening crisis of food insecurity in the [Walla Walla] Valley.” Bobrow-Strain expressed pride over his students’ accomplishments.

“They really became experts in their topics and began to feel like they could reach out and engage with people in the larger community. Each group came up with a really ambitious project and, at some point in the semester, reached a scary crisis point where they just didn’t think they had the knowledge or ability to pull the project off, but they did,” said Bobrow-Strain in an e-mail.

Bobrow-Strain noted the intense dialogue about social and environmental concerns that happened between well-informed students and farmers.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a dialogue like that on the Whitman Campus –– everyone got pushed out of their comfort zones a bit that night,” said Bobrow-Strain.

Sophomore Katie Fales, who also worked on the project, was upbeat about the discussion that took place.

“I was really surprised and pleased with our audience’s engagement. We weren’t anticipating an audience that would be that interested in the topic. Right after introducing our first speaker he asked for questions. And it immediately became a discussion based forum,” said Fales, who worked with fellow sophomores Ethan Mansfield, Anna Sky, Ryan Piela, Alex Kearns and first-year Jack MacNichol.
Fales’ group first became interested in holding a forum when they realized that their topic, the Farm Bill, was too big to handle alone.

“This bill was really way to big for us to tackle,” said Fales. “It has a 300 billion dollar budget for the next five years. It is 600 pages long. It affects not just farmers, but food aid programs, school lunches…just about everyone,” she said.

“We decided we should probably bring in some people who knew about this bill and who are affected directly by it and have studied it,” she added.

The forum consisted of representatives from the Farmers Market, local Farms and the Washington State Department of Health and Services.

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