Sue Sigler Speaks at Farm to Food Bank Event

Sue Sigler Speaks at Farm to Food Bank Event


We also see great generosity. In terms of
need, we heard the secretary speak about the millions of people in our state who continue
to need food assistance everyday just to be able to feed their families…and that’s astonishing
for many people, particularly in the wealthiest country in the world and particularly in a
state with so much agricultural bounty. We are learning more and more everyday about
the long-term effects of hunger on our health and well-being. We’re learning that from two
perspectives: there is more current research out there that shows that, not surprisingly,
that even brief periods of hunger affect a child’s brain development so that even a brief
period of hunger as a child has potential to impact a person’s functioning for the rest
of their life. We also know more and more about how even a brief period of hunger can
impact a person’s self-esteem. So growing up, we look at children and we know that they
need good food in order to thrive, but we’re finding out it’s not only in the body, it’s
for the benefit of how they look at themselves as people. I’m always reminded of a story
from my own family. I was very fortunate, I did not grow up hungry but I come from a
very large family and many, many of my family members did grow up hungry. It was just a
couple of years ago that I was at a family gathering and a cousin was talking to me about
my work and I knew that she grew up with very little in very challenging circumstances and
she told me a story about her and her younger brother and one of our uncles had given her
an orange one day when she was about six. She said, “I took that orange and I hid it
under my pillow until after my brother went to bed so I wouldn’t have to share.” And she
looked at me and said, “Do you think I’m a bad person?” and my heart could have broken
in that moment because a six-year-old child should not have to spend the rest of her life
thinking that she’s a bad person simply by trying to get enough to eat and every time
I look at a basket of oranges like this, a bin full of oranges like this, I am thinking
about every one of those six-year-old children who will not have to suffer that indignity
and wonder about herself for the rest of her life. The second thing that we see in food
banks everyday is extreme generosity: people who understand the kinds of need that I just
talked about and it is my absolute delight and privilege to be able to be here today
to talk about how generous California farmers are, how many people are involved in the effort,
and to thank all of the leaders at the CDFA Board and in particular Secretary Ross for
this beautiful goal that we are working toward. It is very exciting and you know we had a
lot of people who stepped up with some special contributions in support of Farm to Food Bank
Day today. We heard from Bryce Lundberg just a moment ago but I want to thank him again
especially for leading the effort and for donating over 51,000 pounds of rice and risotto
that went here to California Emergency Foodlink and also to the Alameda County Community Food
Bank. Thank you so very much. [applause] But Bryce did more than that, he also worked his
phone and his contacts files and because of that, Pacific International Rice Mill sent
rice to Yolo Food Bank, Sunnyland Mills sent bulgur wheat to Fresno Community Food Bank,
the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative, Prima Frutta Packing, and Fowler Packing all sent food
here to California Emergency Foodlink and it wasn’t just rice we saw apples and oranges,
and many other of those farm products that are so essential to providing everybody a
complete diet. So, I want to say, once again, that California farmers just demonstrate such
extraordinary generosity and I love that phrase “Thank Your Farmer Today” and so it’s a pleasure
for me to be able to come out and say thank you to all who are involved in ensuring that
no one goes hungry in California. Thank you very much. [applause]

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