The History of Food Insecurity and Correcting the Policy Decisions of our Past and Present : VFHY
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Childhood Obesity
Empower Series

The History of Food Insecurity and Correcting the Policy Decisions of our Past and Present

May 20, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm ET

Webinar Description

The national moment of exploring racial justice in America pushes us to reckon with why food insecurity exists, and particularly for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and rural populations more than others. For decades we have been aware of food insecurity, the existence of food “deserts,” and the need for access to healthy foods to prevent chronic illness. This event offers a deep dive into the historical and present-day racist policies and practices that directly and indirectly influenced food environments of today where generations of people have grown up in. We will explore current strategies to correct actions of the past and take actions today that will advance equitable healthy food access for future generations.

In this one-hour webinar, you will learn:

  • How our historical and present-day policy actions have contributed to the disparate food conditions of today.
  • How and why the social determinants of health shape food selection decisions in food insecure communities more than individual behaviors.
  • Strategies you can use to break down barriers to access of healthy foods to people in your community.


Duron Chavis started his career in community advocacy at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of VA. While there he in 2003, he founded the highly acclaimed Happily Natural Day festival. Chavis’s work evolved into urban agriculture starting gardens, orchards, and urban farms across Central Virginia including the Harding Street Urban Ag Center; a recreation center repurposed into an indoor farm by VSU. He served as the first Community Engagement Manager of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden developing training programs for development of public green spaces while managing BeautifulRVA as a multi-sectorial, regional collaborative. Currently, Chavis serves as director of The Happily Natural Day.

Pamela Hess is the executive director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, with a mission to cultivate vibrant local food systems the prioritize health, equity and sustainability from the farm forward. Arcadia grows food on its sustainable farm; trains military veterans to be farmers; introduces children to the joys of healthy eating; and overcomes barriers to access with Mobile Markets that exclusively serve low-food access neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. Arcadia’s Mobile Markets have sold and distributed $1.5 million in fresh healthy food since 2012, and conducts 45% of all SNAP sales at farmers markets in DC, despite generating less than 2% of the total farmers market revenues in the nation’s capital.

Dr. Robert K. Nelson is the Director of the Digital Scholarship Lab and Head of Digital Engagement in Boatwright Library. He is the editor of American Panorama: An Atlas of United States History, which includes “Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America.” American Panorama received the 2019 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History from the American Historical Association and was named a tech innovation by the Chronicle of Higher Education’s in 2016; “Mapping Inequality” received Honorable Mention for the 2019 Garfinkel Prize from the American Studies Association’s Digital Humanities Caucus. Other digital history projects that Nelson has developed include Mining the Dispatch and a remediated, enhanced version of Charles Paullin’s 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. Nelson teaches course related to antislavery and slavery in the United States and about the digital humanities.


May 20, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Virtual Meeting