In a city known for fine dining, New Yorkers gathered on Wednesday night to honor grass-roots organizations helping the less fortunate find their next meal.
For the first time in New York, the Food Sovereignty Prize was awarded at the National Museum of the American Indian in a ceremony hosted by WhyHunger, a New York organization founded by the late Harry Chapin and longtime New York radio host Bill Ayres, and co-sponsored by the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance.
“New York absolutely has a role to play in the fight against hunger,” said Mr. Ayres, executive director of WhyHunger. “And I’m feeling very good that so many people all over the world are working on this issue.” (The issue: food sovereignty, the notion that communities should be able to determine their own agricultural policies, free from outside influences.)
The winner of the prize was the Korean Women’s Peasant Association, an organization of women farmers in South Korea. Other recognized organizations included the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, which helps fishing communities in coastal Sri Lanka; the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan Region, an organization in Honduras aiding landless peasants fight land grabs; and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which helps improve the working conditions of farm workers in Florida. Special guests included MC and New York native Karen Washington, who advocates for community gardens, and Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who gave the evening’s keynote speech.
Also in attendance was singer and guitarist Tom Morello, an original member of both Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.
“It’s an honor to be asked to perform tonight,” Mr. Morello said. “Hunger is violence. Hunger is terror. In a world with plentiful resources, hunger is a crime. I am here to steel the backbone of the quiet heroes on the front line of the fight against poverty.”