Raids not forgotten: community forum addresses immigrants’ connection to America’s food

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Members of the local faith community will gather this weekend for a multi-faith forum and dialogue. The free community forum will address the impact of immigrants and immigration policy on the production and distribution of food in the United States. A panel of faith leaders will discuss the values of justice and respect relative to immigration and food. “We rely a lot on immigrants to process our food, but don’t pay attention to ethical considerations,” said organizer Michael Bischoff. Forum panelists will include Rabbi Morris Allen of the Beth Jacob Congregation, Professor Tisha Rajendra of the University of St. Thomas, and Owais Bayunus of the Islamic Center of Minnesota.

The host of the forum, Faith Mennonite Church, has had an interest in sustainable food issues. “The church wants to build off [these conversations], realizing that immigrants play a huge role in growing and processing food. They want people to be aware and responsive to that reality,” said Bischoff.

The role of immigrants in our society has surfaced as a pertinent topic among human and labor rights groups following factory raids in Worthington, MN and more recently at a kosher meat-packing plant in Postville, IA. Both documented and undocumented immigrants who work at these factories have experienced criminal charges, breach of privacy and in some cases deportation. What are the moral repercussions behind disenfranchising those who make it possible for us to eat healthy food? During this forum, the faith community will respond and discuss ways the broader community could become involved.

“We want to provide more information through relationships. There’s no specific agenda…just to expose people to a range of options,” said Bischoff.

The Immigration and Food Justice Conference will take place Sunday March 29th, from 2:30-4:30pm at Faith Mennonite Church, located at 2720 East 22nd Street in Minneapolis. For more information, see the event flyer at www.tinyurl.com/d3a7be or call (612) 521-1889.

CONTACT: Michael Bischoff, (612) 521-1889 Michael@clarityfacilitation.com

Lauretta Dawolo Towns is a freelancer for several local community and ethnic news outlets. She is also a mentor in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program and a consultant with the Girls in Action program at Patrick Henry High School. Towns is a resident of the McKinley neighborhood in North Minneapolis where she lives with her husband and newborn son.

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