Chop it Up!–A Poetry Slam to Fight Food Inequality–in Photos

There are a variety of ways to show support for your favorite causes. You can run for cancer, sign a petition against fracking, and now, there’s poetry slamming to raise awareness for food inequality.

There are a variety of ways to show support for your favorite causes. You can run for cancer, sign a petition against fracking, and now, there’s poetry slamming to raise awareness for food inequality. Last month these two ideas collided in the most beautiful of ways at Wholesome Wave’s Chop it Up! hosted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The mission of the event was to “vocalize Wholesome Wave’s mission of ensuring everyone has equal access to healthy, fresh, locally-grown food at an affordable price.”

Though Wholesome Wave is based out of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the urban landscape that the organization serves bears resemblance to neighborhoods within walking distance of this Brooklyn event venue known as food deserts–areas without access to local, healthy food. Imagine trying to replenish your empty refrigerator and your best option is a bodega or convenience store, with processed food items that have a shelf-life comparable to a tortoise’s life expectancy.

This is where Wholesome Wave comes in, with programs such as their Double Value Coupon Program, which, as the name suggests, doubles the value of federal nutrition benefits at over 300 farmers markets in nearly 30 states nationally. Proceeds from Chop it Up! went to making sure that this program keeps working to level the playing field of food accessibility.

The evening was art filled and charged with calls for social change. Jennifer Johns emceed while guests nibbled on Chef JJ Johnson‘s Poached Maine Lobster Salad. Vanessa Hidary shared a poem about lobster and bittersweet memories of one last family vacation and Chef Michel Nischan had us in stiches with the tale of his mother and her famous fried chicken.

With Chop it Up!, it didn’t seem like we were sitting in a theatre of strangers. Thanks to the mission of the organization and the messages put forth in the slams, it felt like we were sitting around somebody’s dining room table, lingering over food and sharing laughs and memories. Whether in a theatre in downtown Brooklyn or a once barren concrete lot in downtown Bridgeport, the message was the same: food brings us together. Perhaps it was this simple, unexpected feeling undoubtedly felt by all in attendance, that truly made Wholesome Wave’s message come to life.

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With an affinity for making lists (complete with check boxes), a history of smuggling goat cheese into college cafeterias and a never ending obsession to perfect her pie crust, it was only natural that Michaela Johnson would find her way into the position of planning and executing events for a food magazine.