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Poverty, Power, and What We Can Do About It

Rise Together logoOn June 3rd, 2015, a conference boldly titled “Power to Prosperity: The Power of 9” was held at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. The conference was organized by “Rise Together,” an organization whose mission is to cut poverty in half by 2020, and ending poverty in the Bay Area for good. The group is fueled by the unacceptable statistic that one in five Bay Area residents is living in poverty, and the organization aims to tackle the problem of poverty by bringing different organizations, sectors, and counties together. The organization stresses that the federal poverty threshold does not hold true for the Bay Area, as our cost of living is so much higher than the rest of the country. Food Shift plays an important part in this discussion, as redistributing wasted food to feed those in need is a key aspect of lowering the poverty level. Food Shift is also a part of the All in Campaign to End Hunger in Alameda, which recently signed on as an affiliate of Rise Together.

Rise Together's Roadmap to Cut Bay Area Poverty

Rise Together’s Roadmap to Cut Bay Area Poverty

To cut the real poverty level in half, Rise Together has created a roadmap which outlines a bottom-up approach to the problem of poverty. The roadmap calls for a grassroots social movement, in which “passionate champions from all walks of life who shift public will and give, advocate and volunteer.” This leads to collective impact across sectors in institutions that “align resources, pass public policies and change systems.” After these goals are met, we can create pathways out of poverty by focusing on three key drivers of economic success (basic needs, education, and jobs), and five critical populations (female head of household, families with young children, men and boys of color, immigrants, and seniors). Food is a key aspect of addressing poverty, as it is essential to provide all households in need with food today while we work towards long-term systemic solutions to provide healthy, affordable food for all.

Power of 9 Attendees at Rise Together Conference. Photo from Rise Together blog.

Power of 9 Attendees at Rise Together Conference. Photo from Rise Together blog.

At the conference, a key point made by opening speakers was that no one solution would work to address problems of poverty. Instead, we in the Bay Area need to focus on coming together and working across multiple sectors to come up with many, varied solutions. The possibilities for collaboration are endless, and it’s time we start thinking of innovative ways to “rise together” against poverty. Here at Food Shift, we’re looking at ways to partner with organizations in the Bay Area to create plans/pilot programs for reducing and redistributing wasted food. A main goal is for this food to be redistributed to the hungry and impoverished, either for free or at an affordable price. Looking at this goal of collaboration and “rising together,” we at Food Shift are already working in this direction – but the conference was a powerful and inspirational reminder that we can always be doing more to directly address issues of poverty in our community. Everyone can agree that having one out of five Bay Area residents live in poverty is unacceptable–so what are we going to do about it?

This post was written by Megan Mubaraki. 

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