The Mount Vernon Kiwanis held a membership meeting Wednesday, March 4th at 6:30pm. The Kiwanis organization is an international, service oriented non-profit which empowers communities to improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children.
The membership meeting was also hosted by a panel on Community Gardening and Food Justice. The panelists were: Daniel J. Wohl – Director of The Horticultural Society of New York’s Greenhouse and Education Center in West Harlem’s Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, Nada Khader – Executive Director of the WESTPAC Foundation, an action network and leading force for peace and justice in Westchester County and Jacqueline O’Brien – Community Gardener, nature immersion facilitator, farm educator, and licensed New York State teacher.
The panel covered a range of issues including community gardening, food justice, food deserts, access to good healthy food and much more. In reference to food justice Mr. Wohl stated, “We are all attached to food justice. Everything we eat was picked by someone and gardening is a vital part of our regional systems”.
Mr. Wohl states. “We are all attached to Food Justice. Everything we eat was picked by someone and gardening is a vital part of our regional systems”
In conjunction with the panel, Kiwanis donated five blueberry bushes to Graham School for their learning garden. Donna Jackson, President of the Mount Vernon Kiwanis states “Kiwanis Mount Vernon seeks to constantly support students in all of our schools and families in our community. Past efforts of the Kiwanis have included purchases of uniforms, donations towards winter clothing, book donations, and sending Mount Vernon students for a free week-long trip upstate to our Kiwanis Camp in Taberg, NY”.
Jacqueline O’Brien, A New York State teacher and community gardener believes “children who eat nutritious food learn better”.
Ms. O’Brien reminds us that gardening encourages “emotional regulation” and feels that is significant because many children have “social emotional issues”. There is incredible virtue in Kiwanis of Mount Vernon supporting kids and especially in seeking solutions to assist the 900 students in the Mount Vernon school system who are homeless. To that end, Kiwanis are also holding their 3rd annual Breakfast for Dinner event on Saturday, May 2nd at 6:30pm. The dinner will be held at Sts. Peter & Paul and St. Ursula Church Gymnasium which is located at 129 Birch Street in Mount Vernon. The menu includes: Blueberry or regular pancakes, sausage, eggs, coffee tea and juice. Adults will be charged $10 and children under 10 years of age will be charged $5. The money raised will be used to purchase school supplies for Mount Vernon’s homeless children.
In reference to homeless children, Nada Khader, Executive Director of WESTPAC asks “What is the solution to this crisis?” WESPAC is a non-profit organization that works on a range of issues dealing with social, economic and racial justice, as well as foreign policy concerns. Ms. Khader’s position on food justice was inspired by a prisoner who encouraged gardening as self-reliance. Ms. Khader believes that food security is a vital issue often overlooked and asks the question, “Can we sustain and support all the people living in the Hudson Valley region?” For her Food Justice is about access to fresh local food. Also with an understanding of what are the conditions people work under on farms. She adds, “What are the work benefits and are they compensated fairly?”
Overall the panel was extremely informative. The issues raised shed light on how little we understand about the food we consume. To learn more about the Mount Vernon Kiwanis visit https://k1902.site.kiwanis.org/