Justice and Grapes

By Linda Sandman, Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry Board Member

Food has always been closely linked to social justice in my life. My mom was born and raised in Mexico and came to live in this country as an adult. In the 1960’s she became very involved in supporting the work of Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers, who were fighting for justice in fair wages and working conditions. As a child, I went to rallies, protests and even passed out leaflets in front of grocery stores: “Boycott grapes!” Farmworkers labor for long hours, contend with pesticides sprayed on the fields where they work and make barely enough to support their families. I was very aware that there was more to the story about how food came to be on our table.

Olgha and Rev. J Robert Sandman with Cesar Chavez in 1972. Dayton, Ohio. 

I believe there is a great deal of injustice in how food is grown and then distributed in this country. As a member of First United Church of Oak Park, I have seen the long lines of people waiting for the Food Pantry services. This is why my family became involved in volunteering at the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. As I met the families, the parents and grandparents who came to the pantry, I could see that injustice more clearly. Giving food out is only a partial solution. It is an important part, but it is only part. Supporting programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is equally as important. SNAP is working and is helping very vulnerable sectors of our population, like families with children and seniors. Food is so basic to our lives - for all of us.

We must keep working for justice in how our food is grown and delivered to our tables and in how we ensure that all have access to the food needed to survive and thrive.