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Food insecurity tackled by Sursum Corda Service Organization

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From left to right: Amena Awawdeh, Ryan Burke (president) and Camille Orozco

Sursum Corda, a service organization whose focus is food justice, hosted a week of informative events to discuss food justice and it's real-life impact. The organization tabled on Palm Walk from Nov. 4 to Nov. 8. Ryan Burke, a senior urban studies major and the president of Sursum, sat down to give more information about Sursum's focus.

Gloria Ndilula (G.N): What is food justice week?

Ryan Burke (R.B.): Food justice is essentially the inequality and systemic issue that results from the flaws in our current food system. It's flawed in that there is a large abundance of food but still fails to provide food for those who need it most. Food justice week is to encourage discussions on campus.

G.N.: How can people get involved in food justice week?

R.B.: We have food donations in all the [Grid] C-stores. With any extra LION dollars, you can buy food from the C-store and put it in one of those bins. You can also donate any unopened food you have at home. All those donations will go towards our food pantry on campus.

G.N.: For those who don't know, what is the food pantry?

R.B.: Throughout the week, we are trying to highlight our student-run food pantry next to the Center for Service and Action (CSA); unfortunately not many people are aware of it. It's tucked away in the corner between CSA and St. Robert's Hall; that's a reason too, it's so that people can have their privacy if they do need to use it.

G.N.: Who is allowed to use the food pantry?

R.B.: Food insecurity can take any form. Anyone that is food insecure or feels the need is more than welcome to use the food pantry. Food insecurity is when someone is unable to access enough nutritious and filling meals on a day-to-day basis. That's an issue on college campuses that people don't think about very much.

G.N.: What are some of your placements and how can people get involved?

R.B.: We go to many food pantries in the area. St. Francis Center is in downtown Los Angeles and that's specifically for older people in need. We also go to St. Joseph's Center, Boys and Girls Club and Safe Place for Youth in Venice. One way to get a sense of the service we do, [is to know that] we are doing a service take along on Friday, Nov. 8 as a part of food justice week. Our placement, St. Francis Center, is allowing us to bring 10 extra people with us this week.

We also have Sursums participate in feed the hungry, which is by the Sacred Heart Chapel at 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday. Anyone can come and help prepare the food and at 12, a group goes and delivers it to Ocean Park Community Center in Santa Monica. It's on a first-come, first-serve basis.

G.N.: What is your goal for food justice week?

R.B.: I want people to start thinking about their food and where they get it. I also want people to think about how they can put more care into the food that they eat. A great resource is a documentary "The Need to Grow," which focuses on the importance of healthy soil. It also discusses regenerative farming and agriculture; the way that we are farming right now is not sustainable.

Food justice is an issue that does not discriminate; it affects people because they have to eat every single day and thus, it affects everyone. The food pantry is always available and is for anyone experiencing any food insecurity.

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