Powering Up

Today, at the Farm to Cafeteria conference, I sensed a collective feeling of fatigue, or overload, or maybe just too much fun in Austin’s fabulous music clubs.
For breakfast, I joined a table of “youngsters”, young women and men none of whom looked older than 29. Three gals were from Madison, WI. One young fellow was from Portland, ME and two guys were Food Corps workers, one assigned to New Mexico and one in Arkansas.
The speakers for the morning session where all Texans. One spoke to us of labor issues surrounding farm work and the Latino community. One spoke of the struggle of the African-American community to embrace a return to gardens. Jim Hightower spoke, again, of the importance of interacting with our elected officials.
From there, the assembled conferees created open space discussions, identifying issues they wanted to discuss and self-creating the sessions. Gathering ideas for quick education moments in the cafeteria and sitting in on a discussion about the challenges of Farm to School in rural settings were my two choices.
A dozen of Austin’s famous food trucks assembled outside the Hilton to serve us lunch.
Lightening Sessions, 5 minute presentations, made up the first afternoon session. I appreciated hearing about other’s work in creating culinary learning/work settings, partnering with cooperative extension agents and thoughts on a rationale behind why we do what we do.
I spent the bulk of the afternoon as a volunteer for the conference, which was required in return for the scholarship I received from the Farm to School Network. One of my fellow volunteers was a woman from eastern Washinton. She and her community support a lunch program at a public school that has no federal or state funding. The other gal, a local from Austin, was volunteering just to feel-out the whole farm to cafeteria world.
I finished the afternoon and evening with my brother, who just arrived by bike from western Colorado, and his daughter, enjoying the culinary delights of Austin.

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