Last week, at the invitation of Bangor City Council Chair Ben Sprague, I had the honor and pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on hunger and local food systems in Maine. Only he could have convinced me to attend the summit on a sunny day in the middle of planting season. But when there's a public conversation about an issue dear to my heart, I'll travel the state in order to participate.
"There's a hunger beyond food that's expressed in food, and that's why feeding is always a kind of miracle," was the quote from a wise priest I used to begin my panel presentation. I read it a few years ago in the book Take This Bread.
The event was well-attended; the discussion lively. Sprague opened the summit by pointing out how the face of hunger has changed in recent years. Mark Kelley of the Pulse Morning Show moderated the panel with humor and ease. Other participants included Heather Retberg from Quill's End Farm in Penobscot, a leader in the Maine food sovereignty movement; Melissa Huston from Good Shepherd Food Bank of Northern Maine; Dr. Rebecca Boulos of the University of New England; and Kristen Michelle Brown, a Uinversity of Maine student.
It was most encouraging to hear the stories of a cadre of young people who are working on ending hunger in their communities through education, emergency food relief, and support for the development of resilient local food systems.