NO MAS HAMBRE (NMH) is an initiative presented by LATINO together with AARP, the AARP Foundation, Wells Fargo, Denny’s, Herbalife, Abbot, UnitedHealthcare, Sodexo, Kraft and others to educate Latinos about food insecurity and encourage them to get involved. Now in its third year, NMH seeks to engage the Latino community through articles in LATINO, our website at NoMasHambre.com and our annual NMH Summit. In 2013, NMH held a series of regional forums around the country to explore local issues. These community conversations bring together Latino leaders, anti-hunger activists, elected officials, corporate executives, journalists and ordinary people to discuss ways of addressing hunger and related issues such as nutrition, childhood obesity, SNAP outreach, and food insecurity among the elderly. At each event, pledge cards are passed out and participants write down ways in which they can get involved. Recently, NMH Forums were held in Chicago and Miami.
In Chicago, the event was held during Hispanic Heritage Month at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which operates a network of more than 400 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that help the Depository distribute food through 650 programs throughout Cook County. Keynote speakers included Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, as well as Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, AARP Multiculutral Markets and Engagement, Executive Vice President. Representing Feeding America was Ami McReynolds, Vice President of National Programs.
Panelists on the roundtable discussion moderated by LATINO Publisher Alfredo Estrada included Maria Pesqueira, president of Mujeres Latinas en Accion, one of the oldest Latina human service organizations in the area; Steven McCullough, Vice President of Community Partnerships at the Depository; Olga Medina, SNAP Outreach Coordinator at the Illinois Hunger Coalition; and Hiram Lopez-Landin, Program Analyst, AARP Foundation. Among the special guests were Sister Joellen Tumas, who was recognized last year by NMH as a Lider de Esperanza for her work at Casa Catalina; Father Brendan Curran, Pastor at St. Pius V Catholic Church; and Julian Crews, founder of Old Havana Foods.
The final event of the series took place in Miami at Camillus House, a full service organization providing humanitarian services to persons who are poor and homeless in Miami-Dade County. According to information provided by Peter England of Bread for the World, the rate of food insecurity for Latinos in South Florida is alarmingly high. 25.4 percent of Florida’s children live below the poverty line, and 28.4 percent of them experience food insecurity, over 1.1 million hungry children. The keynote speaker was Dr. Paul R. Ahr, who has served as President and CEO of Camillus House since 2004. A licensed psychologist, Dr. Ahr is a former Director of the State of Missouri’s Department of Mental Health and the author of The Gifts of Camillus: Celebrating the Life of a Ministry. Also speaking was Jeff Johnson, who became AARP Florida State Director in February 2012 after serving as interim state director.
Panelists included Paco Velez, CEO of Feeding South Florida, which feeds nearly 1,000,000 individuals in need; Angela Vazquez, the Assistant Director for Southwest Social Services Program, a nonprofit serving seniors in the area since 1981; John Delgado, Operations Assistant at Farm Share, which last year distributed more than 23.4 million pounds of food, more than half of which was recovered produce and juices; and Hiram Lopez-Landin, Program Analyst, AARP Foundation.
Also present was the leadership of the Cuban American National Council (CNC), including former Chair Jorge Plasencia, the CEO of Republica and Chair of NCLR; former President Guarione Diaz; current President Sonia Lopez; current Chair Lisa Capote; and board member Raquel Swizer.
The contributions of a unique program were also recognized. Camillus House organizes it’s Casserole Program to provide nutritious meals to the homeless and/or hungry in the community. Last year alone, Camillus House received 14,000 frozen prepared meals from individuals, religious groups and other organizations that participated. We were honored to have at the event ladies from St. Agnes Parish of Key Biscayne, including Miriam Lopez and Ileana Puig, as well as June England from St. Louis Parish in Pinecrest, and others who participated in the program. Many thanks to Sam Gil, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Camillus House, for all his help.
Mil gracias to all our partners and participants in these NMH Forums. For information about future events and the third annual NMH Summit taking place in April 2014 in Washington, DC, please visit NoMasHambre.com.