February is Black History Month – a month that honors and celebrates African-American contributions and accomplishments to our history. This year, we wanted to highlight black leaders who have made an impact in ending world hunger! We shared stories each week on our social platforms, shining a light on just a few amazing people who have spent their lives serving a greater good. Each person has an inspirational story, and attests to the fact that one person can create a wave of change in the world. Here’s a recap!
Ertharin has spent her life dedicated to creating change for communities around the world facing hunger. After obtaining her law degree, she began working in private and public sector positions, transitioning into food-related charity work. She went from being appointed on the board of the International Food and Agriculture department, to joining the board of directors for food bank and food relief distribution for Feeding America, then to becoming its executive vice president and chief operating officer.
She didn’t stop there, President Obama appointed her as U.S Representative of the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, Italy.
Yes, there’s more! In 2012, Ertharin became the Executive Director of the U.N.’s World Food Programme, serving more than 90 million people in 80 countries.
Because she’s obviously a rockstar when it comes to creating a wave of change — her hometown of Chicago made September 9th “Ambassador Ertharin Cousin Day”. She was also named to the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World list and ranked #45 on Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
While there is more than we can mention, the impact Ertharin Cousin has made in her life to eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition is truly inspirational!
Meet Ron Finley: a fashion designer, visual artist, and the “Gangsta Gardener” — Ron Finley has transformed the lives of people in South Central Los Angeles, an area known as a food desert. He’s created a horticulture revolution in his own community and communities around the world.
“I’m an artist. Gardening is my graffiti. I grow my art. Just like a graffiti artist, where they beautify walls, me, I beautiful lawns, parkways. I use the garden, the soil like it’s a piece of cloth, and the plants and the trees, that’s my embellishment for that cloth. You’d be surprised what the soil could do if you let it be your canvas.” – Ron Finley
The founder of the Ron Finley Project, his vision is to “rejuvenate communities around the world through gardening, knowledge, and togetherness.” It all started when he utilized an unused city-owned strip of land, right in front of his house, as a community garden, providing his community with direct access to fresh produce. It was at least 45-minutes to buy fresh produce, and Ron decided the people of his community deserved better.
His TED Talk reached millions of people, inspiring them to take back their health and their community through gardening. He encourages and teaches people to grow their own food, in their own backyard, breaking the cycle of poor health and inaccessibility to nutritious foods.
‘If you grow together, you grow together. That’s what communities do” – Ron
Jane Napais Lankisa
As a young and ambitious activist, Jane is continuously making an impact in ending hunger in her own community in Kenya, and around the world.
Jane Napais works as a Nutritionist for Feed the Children, and a life of volunteering and creating change within her led her there. She is a part of the Youth Leaders for Nutrition program that was launched in 2018 by the SUN Civil Society Network, in partnership with Save The Children UK, RESULTS UK, and Global Citizen. This program “empowers young people, primarily those from countries with high rates of malnutrition, with the skills they need to advocate for an end to malnutrition in their own communities and globally.” Source: SunCivilSociety.com
Jane has had the opportunity to travel to numerous countries and was a panelist and speaker at IFAD conference-Rome, Mandela 100- South Africa, Women Deliver Conference – Canada, TICAD7 – Japan, and SUN Nutrition – Kenya as a youth leader for nutrition.
Jane is passionate about educating mothers and young girls about nutrition and the links between nutrition, gender inequality, and child marriage. She also empowers women of reproductive age to have a better understanding of the importance of nutrition.
“Believe that you can be part of the change. If you’re going to school and you learn something you can bring to other girls, share it. I want youth leaders to be able to believe in themselves.” – Jane Napais
George Washington Carver
Maybe you know him as the “Peanut Man”, but he was much more than that. He was an American agriculture chemist, agronomist, and experimenter who helped revolutionize American agriculture. He was the first black man to receive a degree in Agriculture in the United States and opened up the Agriculture School at Tuskegee University in Alabama alongside Booker T. Washington.
George Washington Carver was passionate about improving the South’s agriculture, especially for poor farmers. Understanding the importance of organic and sustainable farming, Carver strived to educate and empower Black farmers on how to improve their livelihoods by diversifying crops, composting, and other sustainable methods.
He was a voice for the organic farmer, and a voice for the land. His methods still contribute greatly to modern agriculture. “It has always been the one great ideal of my life to be of the greatest good to the greatest number of ‘my people’ possible and to this end I have been preparing myself these many years; feeling as I do that this line of education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom to our people.” – George Washington Carver
Through our empowering communities’ programs, we aim to educate and empower smallholder farmers with better agriculture practices, access to quality seeds and fertilizers, and income-generating opportunities. George Washington Carver was a pioneer in creating better lives for communities worldwide through sustainable agriculture, and he’s someone we as an organization look up to!
The impact that just these 4 people made towards creating a world without hunger is incredible. Each one is the perfect example of how taking action can result in change around the world. Education, opportunity, and a world without hunger start with the passion that Ertharian Cousin, Ron Finley, Jane Napais Lankisa, and Geroge Washington Carver have/had, and continues with you!