Growing up, I had little choice but to hold food in high esteem. I was raised in a humble home and my grandparents were farmers. Very little food was ever thrown away and fresh vegetables were a cause for excitement at the dinner table. My parents, both from small farming and ranching communities in Mexico, knew the value of fresh produce and high-quality protein. In our modest Denver neighborhood with a single full-service grocery store that closed several years ago, high-nutrient foods were and continue to be hard to come by for my family and our mostly Latinx and African-American neighbors.
This exposure to the importance of having equitable access to three balanced meals per day provided me with an early realization of the power of community engagement and innovative problem solving. For our younger voting generation, these are values that have been instilled in them from very early on. We have seen this in the way they organize, speak out against injustice, and confront systemic issues.
When I first joined The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) a year ago, I was excited to join a movement of young adults using food as a tool to strengthen communities. My previous role allowed me to work directly with youth and adults facing barriers to economic stability, and a common thread among many I worked with was a lack of regular access to healthy food. I often worked with kids and adults who went without a couple meals at a time, leaving them fatigued and unable to focus during our time together. The power of food and our ability to achieve our goals is irrefutably connected and grossly unrecognized by many.
This election season, I am motivated by my experiences as a first-generation American and the barriers to opportunity our CKP student leaders help combat every day. Their work at their campus kitchen paired with their civic participation is what fuels our mission to target the root causes of hunger and food waste.
Join us in getting ready for the midterm elections by registering to vote and getting to know the ballot measures and candidates in your district.
By: Noemi Almodovar Venkatraj
Noemi is the Program Manager for The Campus Kitchens Project and is based in Denver, Colorado.
Interested in writing your own blog? Check out this track in the Center.