Posts tagged with "food desert"

Town & Country’s 8th Philanthropy Summit – Pharrell Williams × José Andrés

The 8th annual Town & Country Philanthropy Summit kicked off today with an amazing conversation between Pharrell Williams and José Andrés, moderated by Soledad O’Brien.

See below for highlights from the panel as well as a link to view the interview in its entirety:

Pharrell Williams on how he thinks about philanthropy and what his goals are: 

“When we think about the African diaspora and people of color and what people who are deemed ‘minorities’ – which we are actually not—but that’s just the saying. There are three pillars that affect us the most—disproportionate access to education, disproportionate access to healthcare, and also disproportionate access to legislation. I think the first two are the ones that I want to focus on because they’re the ones that I feel like I can, through my resources and even my likenesses whenever needed, that I can actually make a difference in education and healthcare. These are the things that hurt us the most.”

José Andrés on why he focuses on food insecurity:

“I am one more cook in the universe of people that feed people in America or around the world. But people like me, we only feed the few. I am in the power, when you began thinking, we can also be a part of feeding the many. And where we can join forces to the many around America, and around many places in the world, in the most difficult moments, to be able to bring solutions. For me, food is my way of doing it, but what we do is only a drop of water in an ocean of empathy. It requires a lot of props of empathy to make things happen. Obviously what I do is more focused on emergencies, I don’t like to see people in mayhem; people who, already in the good times forgotten, that are voiceless, that nobody takes care of. It’s even worse when a hurricane, an earthquake, an explosion of fire, a pandemic, hits their communities even further. That’s the moment that I feel the urgency of now being yesterday, and I love to bring my community and try to be nice to as many people as we can in these moments of mayhem. At the end of the day, one plate of food at a time won’t solve every problem but at least you buy time. And you give hope to people who need it the most.”

Pharrell on how he and Jose met and joined forces: 

“Catherine Kimmel – the great connector – took me to an event. Here’s a guy that you really need to meet because, like you, he takes what it is he does and puts it to better usage and thinks about others… [at an event in New York] I was so impressed because there were so many chefs there but this guy – it was different. Yes, he’s a chef and he’s all about his ingredients and recipes, but his greatest meal was his operation and people and his ability to galvanize. It was really apparent that everyone was centered around him and all he wanted to do was feed people and bring people together and help people see that through our differences and our challenges are actually a lot of solutions and we can make the world a better place and I was really blown away… Then we met and we realized there were a lot of things he was doing that I could be instrumental in helping him.”

José on meeting Pharrell and what attracted him to Pharrell:

“I go and meet Pharrell and he’s even better, he’s the better half. What you get is a good vibe – it’s very difficult to describe. You know, you read about people, NBA players, amazing musicians and I’m not only looking for the amazing things they do, which I love, but what’s behind. When you see that behind is something very powerful that they’re putting at the service of others – their power, their money, their contacts but something even more powerful is their brain connecting with their empathy within their hearts… We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without people like them. Pharrell knows and more importantly loves his community. We were able to do it in Virginia Beach and be there because Pharrell opened to us the doors of being that community without being foreigners. We were able to partner with local people, with local restaurants.”

José on how his family impacted his values and his metaphor on life:

“My mom and dad always believed in longer tables, not higher ones. The table will always be ready for whoever showed up… My father would put me in charge of making the fire. I did that since I was young, and I would become very good at making the fire. But my father was very particular, and he would never let me near the chicken… [he would say] ‘My son I know you wanted to do the cooking, but actually doing the fire and controlling the fire is the most important thing, everyone wants to do the cooking without understand the fire. My son you already have the biggest gift. Control the fire, master the fire, and then you can do any cooking you want.’ (I don’t know if my father told me that story with that idea or I’m making it more romantic along the way as the years pass by). My father was giving me a mantra for life itself: find your fire, control your fire, master your fire, and then you can do any cooking you want in your life.”

Pharrell on his foundation YELLOW:

“For us, we want to even the odds. I know that I was a very lucky person who benefitted from my teachers seeing something in me. They didn’t know what they were telling me or which way the way to go but they kept telling me to keep going. I think that had a profound effect on me because essentially education is the toolbox that every human being is going to need out in the world just to function… What we wanted to do is look at a curriculum that could assess these children and figure out how they comprehend information best. Then eventually make a curriculum that is sensory based and not sensory biased. If you learn differently than how the curriculum is being taught, then automatically you’re deemed as remedial… with the YELLOW hub, it’s the space where kids can learn based on their way they process their information.”

Pharrell on the education system:

“I love public school teachers and you know, love the unions as well, but the education the educational system is antiquated. I mean just ask your favorite Fortune 500 CEO – they might not be the best, they might not be well read, but that does not stop their genius. And this is what we want. We want to make sure that we reach every child by properly assessing their learning potential and comprehension preferences, and making sure that they have a curriculum that is based for them. Sensory bias is an issue, but sensory based learning special educational systems is the future. That’s how every child slip through the cracks and we get to eventually even the odds.”

José on how the pandemic affected and influenced his philanthropy:

“I think this year has changed all of us profoundly… Fundamentally has changed me. First, obviously take care of your family. I tried to be a father who took care of his daughters and my wife and trying to keep them safe. Every mother and father tried to do that. But then I began thinking that to take care of my daughters, it’s not putting them behind walls, to take care of my daughters, is bringing down those walls and trying to work as hard to provide for the other daughters and sons of other people I don’t know that they are trying to achieve the same for their children. The way I’m going to keep my daughters safer is not behind walls but with longer tables, where I work as hard to provide for my daughters as I’m going to work to provide for the daughters I don’t know. Fundamentally this is what changed me.”

José on what people get wrong about philanthropy:

“Robert Egger, my favorite food fighter, he said that it seems philanthropy is usually about the redemption of the giver, when philanthropy essentially needs to be about the liberation of the receiver. It’s nothing wrong to give and donate time or money or your brain and feel good about it, but fundamentally in this pandemic, I learned that to give, it’s not good enough, that we must do good, yes, but we must do smart good.”

Pharrell on the changes he has noticed this year:

“Empathy is at an all-time low. It’s not where it needs to be. There’s a lot of sympathy and pity, but there’s not empathy. And we need more of that, we need more empathy, we need more humility, we need more gratitude. I think the pandemic, for me, has taken me to that place where that’s the only thing I can think about.”

View the summit here.

The T&C Summit continues tomorrow (June 22, 2021 @ 12:30-1:30 PM EDT) with a panel between the power media couple Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue. Register directly here.

Kia Damon illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Chef Kia Damon: Culinary Compassion In The Kitchen

By: Emily Bunn

This Women’s History Month, 360 Magazine sat down with Chef Kia Damon. Kia is the founder of Kia Feeds The People (KFTTP) and is a cofounder of Auxilio, both of which are non-profits aimed at combating food apartheid. We dished with Kia on how she discovered her passion for cooking, pathways towards increased Black and QTPOC representation in the culinary industry, and her upcoming video release with EFFEN Vodka and Queer Foods, which can be viewed here.

When did you first begin cooking? When did you realize you wanted to pursue it professionally?

“I started cooking in my early preteens. I have younger brothers as well, so once we were too old for day care, I had to step up as the older sibling to make sure we ate, especially more so during the summertime because I have working parents. But, it wasn’t until some years later when I started cooking independently for my own health reasons that I truly saw my strengths in cooking and realized that cooking professionally wasn’t a world that was so far away for me, that it was actually extremely attainable and extremely real. So I took the plunge, and to this day some of my family’s still very surprised, because I was definitely burning pots of rice, and they were like ‘this girl has no talents for the kitchen.’ Now I’m cooking and they still can’t believe it.”

We all know foods brings communities together. Are there any experiences you’ve had with community members through Kia Feeds The People that have stuck with you?

Yes! Honestly, the most connective part was before I even started cooking with KFTTP people when I was looking for guidance from a lot of my friends in the cooking community. Because KFTTP was birthed in a really tumultuous time, I felt like I couldn’t quite gather my thoughts and my feelings. I just felt so emotionally charged and stunted that I felt like I couldn’t even work or think or move because I felt so emotional about everything. But being able to lean into my friends and my chosen family who see me for who I am, who know me intimately and know my heart, they were able to guide me to where I am now and toward my mission for KFTTP. I’m super grateful. These are people that I’ve been able to cook with before, these are people that I’ve literally eaten with before–we’ve shared food out of deli containers at 3am–I’m very grateful for them. And I definitely could not have got to this place without them.”

Are you looking to expand KFTPP outside of Brooklyn, or just focus on this specific community?

“Because I am a Sagittarius, I definitely am looking to expand and looking to grow. I definitely have to make sure I build and flesh KFTTP out as much as possible in Brooklyn before I start thinking about moving other places. But I do have visions, not necessarily to just expand Kia Feeds The People, but to collaborate with other mutual aid organizations and non-profits that already exist in other cities, so that I can support them and [they] have more coverage where they are. I’m not the only one who’s doing this kind of work and it is definitely a collaborative, lifelong mission, so I want to lend hands to the people who are already in this game.”

What do you think is the biggest obstacle facing overcoming food apartheid?

Personally I think the biggest obstacle is still convincing people that it exists, because we live in such a individualistic world. If something doesn’t affect the next person, then they’re more likely to ignore it, you know. That’s why I think COVID really shook things up, because a lot of us were collectively put on our butts. you know. We’re like “whoa, wait a minute, is this one thing that is really proactively affecting us.” But regarding food apartheid, a lot of people are still familiar with it in terms of a “food desert.” Food desert is a word that’s been used for many years to describe this situation, and a “desert” implies that it is natural, because the world naturally created deserts. When you apply “food desert” to that idea, it implies that this place without food, this place without access to meals, is natural and that’s just the way that it’s supposed to be. But it’s completely unnatural, it’s completely systematic, and [after recognizing that] then we can start looking at it as something that is created by is created by systems. Then, we can put some realness to it and find how all of us are truly affected by them. So I think right now, it’s making sure people know what food apartheid is, and that it actually exists.”

Do you have a favorite meal or cocktail to prepare when you’re bringing family or friends together?

“My favorite meal is red beans and rice. I love a good pot of Louisiana-style red beans and rice, because honestly that–with some corn bread on top and so hot sauce– that really is the whole meal. You think you would need something else on the side but that’s really it. It’s so fulfilling, it’s so delicious, and I definitely try to bring it out when I get to be with my friends and family.”

The culinary world is a male-dominated industry. How can the culinary industry work to become more diverse, and have more Black, QTPOC chefs?

“I think it’s a starts with actually investing in the lives and careers of these black/brown/trans/ LGBTQ chefs because they exist. I know they exist because they’re my friends. And what happens is that maybe they’re put in positions of leadership or maybe not, but they’re they’re not given the same care, support or investment in their skills and education and their needs. You could put someone in a line chef position or position of leadership or whatever, but if there’s no follow through to make sure that they have what they need to be supported in those positions, they’re usually set up for failure, or set up to be harmed in some way. Or maybe a small business that’s LGBTQ or Black has a good profile, [but they may not be] getting access to grants or money. You have to have the follow through. It’s not that we don’t exist, it’s that we’re not properly supported when we are put at the forefront. That’s when it gets tricky and that’s when we’re left open to harm and failure.”

What are you most excited about regarding this video release with Queer Foods and EFFEN Vodka?

“I’m very excited for mom to see it first of all, I love my mommy and she is my number one fan. And she’s a Gemini, so I’m always looking for her approval. But I’m also excited to get to Kia Feeds The People and Queer Stories in front of the world. I feel like we can’t tell enough queer stories, there’s always someone’s story out there. Even though there’s this myth out there that there’s already enough representation, or that maybe it’s too much to keep talking about queer people, that’s actually far from the truth. I’m proud and honored that EFFEN Vodka wants to support what I’m doing and wants to get my story out there. My story is the story of a lot of other Black and brown and trans people’s stories, and it also feels good to partner with someone who sees me and wants to invest in my story and invest in supporting other diverse artists, both in their representation and practice. It just feels good to be seen, and I’m excited for everyone else to see me and to be seen. Just look! Everyone just look! I want everyone to look and feel pride in who we are.”

How can readers donate to Kia Feeds The People?

“You can head to my GoFundMe if you’re not in the city, or if you’re in Brooklyn you can come to a pop up. Please donate to my GoFundMe, I have it on my Instagram page. Share it with your friends, let them know what’s up. Or if you are in Bed-Stuy, you can find me at a pop-up– I have a few coming up in April, so I’m going to be all over the place. Come get some food or throw some money, either way I’ll be very grateful.”

To learn more about Kia, visit her website.

Kia’s EFFEN Rosé Vodka Grapefruit Cocktail

Ingredients: 

  • 2 parts EFFEN Rosé vodka
  • 1 oz of lime juice
  • ½ oz of cane syrup
  • 2 or 3 parts grapefruit juice

Mix the grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, EFFEN Rosé vodka and a spoonful of ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir and taste. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with grapefruit, and thyme. Drink responsibly + enjoy!

Kia’s Gumbo Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 8 oz andouille sausage
  • 1lb Boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups sliced okra, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp Ground sage
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh parsley

Directions

  • Season the chicken thighs with 2 tablespoons of creole seasoning, salt and pepper. Season well on both sides. Heat a skillet or cast iron to medium heat with enough oil to cover the bottom. When the pan is hot, sear the chicken in batches. Brown the chicken on both sides and set aside. The chicken does not have to be cooked through just yet.
  • In a large pot add the oil and heat to a medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk until it begins to cook. Lower the heat to medium low. Keep whisking the roux over a controlled and steady heat until the flour begins to darken into a deep brown. This takes about 30 minutes, so pace yourself.
  • Turn the heat down on the roux and add in your onion, bell pepper and celery. Stir into the roux, season with a few pinches of salt and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Add in your minced garlic and fresh thyme. Stir for another 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken stock while whisking the roux. Do this part slowly because the roux will begin to thicken. Take your time and continue pouring in the stock until it’s completely incorporated.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, meanwhile slice the sausage in ¼ inch rounds on a slight bias. When the pot begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and add the chicken and sausage. Let the gumbo cook on low for an hour. You want time for the flour taste to cook out.
  • After an hour, add the remaining two tablespoons of creole seasoning, smoked paprika, ground sage and Worcestershire sauce to the pot. Stir and add your sliced okra. Cook for another 10 minutes, add salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste then serve with rice and chopped parsley.
  • Enjoy!
Kia's EFFEN Rosé Vodka Grapefruit Cocktail Photo credit: Solène Michel  Recipe credit: Kia Damon, Kia Feeds The People for use by 360 Magazine

Photo credit: Solène Michel Recipe credit: Kia Damon, Kia Feeds The People

Kia Damon image shot by Elina Street for EFFEN Vodka and Queer Foods for use by 360 Magazine

Photo Credit: Solène Michel 

Martina McBride

Martina McBride’s global charity initiative, Team Music Is Love (TMIL), hosted a wildly successful event at The Fairgrounds Nashville on Friday, June 7th to benefit the local community. This event included a food drive, book giveaway and storytelling, a diaper giveaway, and an essential item giveaway, which included items such as tooth brushes and toothpaste.
 
The Nashville Fairground neighborhood was selected as the location for this event due to its status as a food desert in Nashville – most people who live there lack easy access to affordable fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as the closest grocery store is a two mile walk away.
 
To help, TMIL, in partnership with One Gen Away, brought in a truckload of over 20,000 pounds of locally sourced fresh produce and locally saved canned goods during the food drive, providing approximately 10,000 meals which will feed 380 families. This incredible feat will surely impact the local Nashville community given that 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 5 children in metro Nashville are food insecure – meaning they lack reliable access to nutritious food and may survive from fast food and convenience stores.
 
TMIL also partnered with The Word Wagon to give summer reading books to kids – two low income Nashville metro schools will receive free books – and partnered with the Nashville Diaper Bank to give diapers to families in need.
 
Of course, this event wouldn’t have been a success without the help of volunteers. People from 20 different states and 3 different countries showed up to help give away flowers, balloons, lemonade, and fill grocery carts with fresh foods and canned good staples.