2019 D-Jam provides community response to hunger

The following is adapted from my remarks at David Tauberg and theCAUSE‘s 2019 D-Jam benefit show for Just Harvest. This year’s event helped raise more than $20,000 for Just Harvest. This would not have been possible without the support of Anne Hawkins, Ben Penigar & Grey Area Productions, media sponsor 91.3 WYEP, and all the event sponsors (especially title sponsor Ameriprise Advisors Rush Hodgin and Associates) and event donors, the contributions of special guest musicians Lisa Mackey and Jeff Mattson, and all the concertgoers and volunteers.

Just Harvest's Ken Regal at the 2019 D-JamI’m often asked to explain who is hungry in our community. Some people want to hear about childhood hunger; some want to hear about elderly people, or homeless people or veterans, or the working poor or the newly unemployed. Some want to hear about the people who fit every stereotype, some want to hear about the people who break every stereotype.

To all these audiences, our message is that our hungry neighbors come in all colors and shapes and sizes. They are just like everyone else, but with way less money.

Some kind and well-meaning folks I meet with think the solution to hunger is nothing but bigger and better food drives and ever-more creative ways to share leftovers. What they do is terrific and we are a stronger community because of them.

But at Just Harvest we understand that the Hunger problem is not a shortage of food, but a shortage of justice.

And this is why Just Harvest works every day to improve government policy on poverty.

  • It’s why we are fighting back right now against a Trump administration attempt to impose new – and probably illegal – rules that would force states to kick about 750,000 people off of food stamps.
  • It’s why we join our brothers and sisters in the fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage.
  • It’s why we make it possible for people who live in communities without supermarkets to have other ways to shop for fresh produce and other healthy foods.
  • It’s why we register low-income people to vote.
  • And it’s why we are changing the conversation about hunger to a conversation about why — even when the economy is supposedly booming — 1 in every 5 people in the City of Pittsburgh lives in poverty.

I’m grateful for all the partners who are helping Just Harvest move beyond charity to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. You are the heart and soul of our community.

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