On October 30, Local Foods Connection Founder and Executive Director Laura Dowd was invited to deliver the keynote address at the University of Iowa’s 11th annual International Day Human Rights Conference “The Human Right to Food.”
The University of Iowa gathered more than 300 students from middle and high schools throughout Iowa at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center with the expressed intent to get young Iowans thinking about food security and poverty. As Buffy Quintero, International Programs outreach coordinator, expressed, “We want to encourage students to think about how decisions made at the local level have global impacts.” As event organizers explain, International Day is meant to help these students become better global citizens and to develop a greater understanding of – and respect for – democracy, equality, cultural differences and human rights.
Laura delivered her keynote, entitled “The Human Right to Food,” to an audience of eager and excited Iowa students. Focusing on the the work of Local Foods Connection, Laura connected both hunger and poverty throughout the world with hunger and poverty here in Iowa and the UN Declaration of Human Rights with Local Foods Connection’s fight for food security in Iowa. As Laura explained to the audience, “Food security exists when all people have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.” And access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food is what LFC is all about.
Laura encouraged her audience to consider their skills, values, and interests in order to figure out how they, too, can help intervene on behalf of the human right to food. Building on the experiences and talents of LFC volunteers, Laura called upon her audience to “Listen; Keep an open mind; Do not judge on first impressions; Learn by doing research, reading, and interviewing; and Ask how you can help.” As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explains, “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” In other words, working on behalf of the human right to food is good for your community and good for yourself. It is our duty to consider the health and safety of our fellow humankind, globally and locally.
Among the highlights of her talk were an emphasis on Local Foods Connection’s values:
No one should go hungry in America.
Everyone should have access to good food.
Healthy food comes from healthy farms.
Everyone can help in the fight against hunger.
At the end of her talk, Laura reminded the students of Mahatma Gandhi’s rallying cry, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Hailey Dixon, a participating high school student and Local Foods Connection volunteer, described the event:
International Day is an annual event that teaches kids about a world issue; this year the subject was “The Human Right to Food.” Every student chose two “classes” to take and there were two group sessions with everybody.
My first class was about how large, powerful countries like the United States, Canada, etc. make it hard for developing countries to have food security. Our teacher told us that many developing countries buy unhealthy pesticides and manure from the developed countries and then everyone who eats that food in the developing country gets sick.
My second class was about the Peace Corps. I think the Peace Corps volunteers amaze me with all they do. I learned that there are many fields of the Peace Corps like agriculture, technology, health, environment, etc. The main focus was on the agricultural part of the Peace Corps. When a Peace Corps volunteer goes to the country they are assigned to they try to make more efficient, healthier way of farming for the people so they can be better nourished and healthier overall.
I think International Day is a great event and you really do learn alot.