The Hub’s first week of Coffee Talk focused on the upcoming Republican and Democratic debates. Although we are still a year out from the general election we are already being inundated with an unseemly amount of political attacks and a barrage of calculated positions that lead many feeling jaded with the system as a whole, actively trying to find ways to avoid any mention of Republicans, Democrats, or debates.
But we also know that there will not be a more opportune time to get involved in the discussion that surrounds the injustices that many in our community face on a daily basis. Even though the topics we discussed often strayed away from those directly involving the food security, these issues are all intimately connected, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to wholly address one issue without making note of another.
We asked folks participating in Coffee Talk to submit a question that they would want the Presidential candidates to address, and we got a wide variety of responses:
-How do you plan to boost the economy without sacrificing the environment, local communities, local food systems, and the poorest citizens?
-What are you going to do to stimulate the economy?
-What qualifies you to be the next President of the United States?
-How would you provide health insurance if you repeal Obamacare?
-How do you plan to address the income inequality plaguing the middle class? How will you help those stuck in poverty?
-The student loan crisis is quickly becoming one of the biggest threats to the younger generations’ futures. Do you have a plan to help alleviate the financial pressure today’s students are under?
-What candidate is, in your opinion, best suited to deal with problems that future generations will face (aside from yourself)?
-What is your affiliation with Agribusiness?
-What are you going to do to help the vets?
-How will you address the Farm Bill in terms of loss of American jobs and the rise of health issues, especially childhood obesity and diabetes?
-If elected President, what would your stance be on childhood nutrition and offering healthy foods in schools? Would you want to expand nutrition standards or loosen them?
Perhaps most important was the personal context that was given to many of the issues mentioned above; hearing the stories of some of our patrons gave us insight into the distressing amount of difficulties faced when experiencing food insecurity, and it made these oftentimes incomprehensible issues relatable on a personal level. It became possible to begin drawing connections between the healthcare system, agricultural subsidies, nutrition, student loans, and veterans’ issues that we have to deal with every day. We look forward to more conversations over coffee and muffins, and to identifying actions we can take to address injustice.