April 4th, 2014
12:05 AM ET
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In "the nation's salad bowl," as California's Central Valley is often called, fresh produce grows in abundance.

But for many area residents, healthy food is out of reach.

"Here we are in this agriculturally rich area and yet people who live here and work here are hungry, are impoverished," said Sarah Ramirez, an educator who grew up in the area.

"(Some) are working in the fields that feed the entire country and then they don't have the resources to support them and their health. It's heartbreaking."

For the last two years, Ramirez has been on a mission to build a healthier community in her impoverished hometown of Pixley.
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Filed under: Food Deserts • Food Politics • Human Rights • Hunger • Local Food • Local Heroes • Urban Gardening


The CNN 10 Visionary Women: Saru Jayaraman
March 24th, 2014
09:30 AM ET
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This Women’s History Month, CNN set out to highlight the efforts of 10 women who are helping other women find success, self-esteem and sometimes a safe haven. The women represent diverse fields: technology, fashion design, policy, activism, literature and skilled labor. What they have in common is a mission to empower their fellow woman. See the full list at CNN Living.

Saru Jayaraman wants you to eat with your mind full. The 38-year-old co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and author of “Behind the Kitchen Door” has spent her career fighting for service workers to get a fair wage in a respectful, safe environment. Most of those workers are women.

In an essay for Maria Shriver’s “The Shriver Report,” Jayaraman plainly laid out the facts: “Restaurant servers are three times as likely to live in poverty and use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. work force. In a terrible irony, the women who put food on the tables of restaurant-goers everywhere are struggling to put it on their own.”
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February 5th, 2014
02:45 PM ET
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Last week, dozens of children at a Utah elementary school had their lunch trays snatched away from them before they could take a bite. Workers at Uintah Elementary School removed the already-served food because some students had negative balances in the accounts used to pay for lunches.

Kenny Thompson didn't want to see that repeated at Houston's Valley Oaks Elementary School. KPRC reports that on Monday, the longtime mentor and tutor paid off the negative lunch account balances of more than 60 students.
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Filed under: Charity • Human Rights • Hunger • Local Heroes • School Lunch


How a Brooklyn girl became a legendary Southern baker
March 6th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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This year, the Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates women, work, and food. Today's subject is Karen Barker, who was happily co-proprietor and pastry chef of the Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina (1986–2012). Now, happily, she is not.

I grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, where there was a very strong corner-bakery culture but little actual home baking. People tended to purchase their breads and desserts rather than produce them out of cramped urban kitchens.

I was lucky that my maternal grandmother, an exception to this rule, lived upstairs. She was a Russian immigrant who barely spoke English, had no written recipes, and never used standardized measures. Bubby Fanny turned out an amazing array of Eastern European specialties and taught me that homemade sweets were a tribute to one's family and always included the ingredients of time and love.
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