by intern Jackie Fortin
On March 3-4, Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast member Martha Davis Kipcak accompanied a small delegation to Washington DC to speak to Wisconsin legislators about securing healthy food for the city’s 60,000 school-age children.
A Community Food Systems Advocate and the trip coordinator, Kipcak headed to Washington with Will Allen, CEO and founder of Growing Power, Kymm Mutch, Director of School Nutrition Services for Milwaukee Public Schools, and Emmanuel Pratt, a doctoral candidate in urban planning from Columbia University.
“Our goal was to put legs on Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign,” she said. “We called ourselves ‘Let’s Move Milwaukee.Ҕ
Over the two days, the group met with Sen. Herb Kohl, Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Gwen Moore, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton, and two of her colleagues, The NEA Foundation and a Department of Energy representative.
At first, Kipcak didn’t think she was fit for the task, but she said the process ended up being simple and empowering.
“The chance to talk to staffers, elected officials, and government leaders, for me, reinforced the notion that the real insight on the subject of a sustainable food system is with the people,” she said. “That’s you and me: folks on the ground every day producing, shopping, preparing and eating.”
Kipcak said she would encourage other Slow Food chapters to engage in “face-to-face conversations” with their legislators, especially if they do so as a coalition with other community partners.
“The message is stronger if it comes from a team, and it’s a better use of everyone’s time,” she said. “It’s all about building authentic relationships with those that are on the ground doing the work.”
According to Kipcak, “Activism in some ways kind of scares people because they have this idea that they have to beat their chests, wave their hands and be on the nightly news.”
“Instead,” she said, “it is about speaking up, and being informed, mindful and inquisitive. I think more of us are activists than we think.”