Writing to End Hunger

I. Hunger Journal: Working toward Food Security in Georgia

Above: Matthew Saralishvili interviews a guest at the Gori Baptist Church soup kitchen. Photo by Katie Cook.
Above, from left: Elene Kalatozishvili, Natia Aroshvili and Nini Pirtskhalava work on their stories for the Georgian Hunger Journal.

In June 2019, Seeds editor Katie Cook and Council member Guilherme Almeida traveled to the country of Georgia to conduct a Seeds Creating Hope Project in partnership with the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia. Participants came from an interfaith youth group hosted by Peace Cathedral, a Baptist church in Tbilisi.

The project, made possible by a gift from a Seeds friend that was designated for travel, included a “Writing to End Hunger” workshop and a “Theatre of the Oppressed” workshop.

During the writing workshop, high school and university students learned about hunger issues in the world and in Georgia. After a brief training in interview techniques, they went together to the nearby town of Gori, where many people are still displaced from the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. The students met and interviewed guests and volunteers at the soup kitchen run by a Baptist church in Gori. Then they returned to Tbilisi to write about what they had seen.

The result of their efforts is Hunger Journal: Working toward Food Security in Georgia, which the students also designed. We encourage you to read the wonderful stories written by these Georgian youth.II

Click here to download Hunger Journal.

II. The Outcast Project

Above: The Outcast Project newsletter team, from left: Leon Smith, Marichaelle Branch, Lina Diaz, Cookie Carter, Senior Servant Leader Intern Eliana Rodriguez, and Montray Henry.

In the summer of 2019, The Seeds staff was involved in our fourth “Writing to End Hunger” workshop, this time at the 2019 Baylor Freedom School in Waco.  Seeds had partnered with the Baylor University Freedom School in 2018 in a learning track called “Freedom School Press.”  (See below.)  This year, Dr. Lakia Scott, the Freedom School director, arranged for editor Katie Cook to work with five Junior Servant Leader Interns (student teachers) from Waco’s The Cove. The Cove is an after-school nurturing center for homeless high-school students. These five writers (pictured left, with their supervisor, Eliana Rodriguez) are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness very recently.

These students chose the title, The Outcast Project, and the look of the newsletter (fonts, colors and art choices).  They wrote overviews and conducted research about homelessness among youth. They interviewed young people about being homeless. Katie met with them six times, and they came up with all of the material that is in the newsletter.

This is Baylor’s third summer to participate in the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. The CDF curriculum is designed to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today. In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, and secure juvenile justice facilities, the CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, increases self-esteem and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities.

Click here to download the full newsletter.

III. Freedom School Press

Scholars visit the World Hunger Relief, Inc. Training Farm near Elm Mott, TX.

Early in the summer of 2018, Seeds of Hope Publishers partnered with the Baylor School of Education’s Freedom School to create a learning track for reporting about hunger.  The Freedom School curriculum comes from the Children’s Defense Fund and is inspired by the Freedom Schools of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Baylor’s School of Education conducted its second Freedom School in Waco, TX, this summer, working to build strong, literate, empowered children.

This learning track was inspired by a 2003 day camp in which Seeds staff and Megan Sims, then the children’s minister for Seventh & James Baptist Church, taught a group of children how to report on local agencies that helped to get food to people in need. The end product of that camp was the newsletter Hungry for Hope. When Baylor Freedom School director Dr. Lakia Scott heard about the Hungry for Hope camp, she immediately wanted to add a similar learning experience to the Freedom School curriculum for 2018.

Scholars interview Sherry Castello about the Gospel Cafe, where she organizes meals for hungry people.

Our Freedom School Press adventure began on Tuesday, June 12, as about 30 scholars were initiated as reporters for this newsletter. On the first day, each reporter was given Freedom School Press credentials and practiced by interviewing their editor, Katie Cook, the Seeds editor. At the second session, teams of two and three were each given a photo and profile for one of 10 people who live with food insecurity—ranging from Los Angeles to Cambodia. One member of each team took on the identity of each profile. The other team members had to find out the stories by asking questions. This exercise taught them about interviewing and being interviewed. It also taught them about the many different places where people are food-insecure, and the many different circumstances that can cause them to be hungry.

Scholars spent time researching various issues of hunger. They visited the World Hunger Relief, Inc. Training Farm in Elm Mott, where they learned about sustainable agriculture. Better yet for them, they got to see rabbits, goats, pigs and chickens—although they learned some somewhat startling things about bunnies, as you will also see if you read the Freedom School Press newsletter. (See the link below.)

During the fourth session of Freedom School Press, the scholars met Sherry Castello, who was editor of the Baylor Line alumni magazine for 25 years and is now the head chef and organizer for the Gospel Café. The scholars interviewed her about being an editor and writer, and about the Gospel Café. (See the link below.) That evening, Sherry left a voice message at the Seeds office, saying, “I want to thank you again for the invitation to visit with the Freedom School students today. That is the most joy I have had in a long time. When I left there, I just couldn’t quit smiling. I appreciate the opportunity you provided today, and I love those kids.”

It is our hope that this project has taught the Freedom School reporters a few things about writing and listening, and a few things about people in the world around them. —lkc

Click here to download the full newsletter.