Dominican forum to tackle hunger, food deserts and more

File photo
File photo

A conference hosted by Dominican University will feature a public forum addressing topics like food deserts, food stamp program cutbacks and the rights of agricultural workers.

Dominican will host the fourth annual International Critical Dietetics Conference from Aug. 14 through 17. The “Food is a Right” public forum will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 16 in the Lund Auditorium on the university’s campus.

Jill White, chairwoman of the nutrition science department at the university, said the conference will bring together people who are looking at nutrition from a social justice perspective.

“It’s really applying critical social theory to the field of nutrition,” she said.

Dominican requested last year to host the next International Critical Dietetics conference, and it’s the first time the conference is being held in the U.S., White said.

The free forum on Aug. 16 will address three main issues, with a panel of speakers for each one: food access and federal food stamp program cuts, economic justice for food workers, and holding agribusiness industries accountable for their environmental and health effects.

Following the forum, refreshments and a blues concert will be held in Parmer Hall.

White believes the most acute problem deals with cuts to food stamps and other food programs, since numbers of people seeking help are on the rise.

“I don’t think it’s really that clear to people the level of hunger that’s going on in Cook County,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 23.5 million people live in food deserts, according to a news release, and that issue is prevalent in Chicago. White said there’s no reason that anyone, let alone children, should go hungry in an agricultural hub like the Midwest.

White hopes the forum draws people from the Chicago area for discussion on the issues at hand, and she’d like to see it be a catalyst for change.

“It’s really an attempt to sort of bring people together around hunger,” White said, adding that she has yet to tell someone about the conference and find that he or she wasn’t interested in it.

If you go

The free public forum “Food is a Right” will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 16 in the Lund Auditorium, 7900 W. Division St. in River Forest.

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