NORMAL — The School Street Food Pantry, started by a small group of people near the Illinois State University campus, was cited Monday by an internationally known environmental activist as an example of how small steps can bring meaningful change.
Vandana Shiva, who chairs the Commission on the Future of Food and is a board member of the International Forum on Globalization, urged people not to let the size of a task deter them from taking small steps today toward its completion.
“We are in a mess where each of us has a role to play,” she said.
Shiva talked to a master’s class in ISU’s Bone Student Center in Normal on Monday afternoon ahead of delivering the Adlai E. Stevenson Memorial Lecture in the evening at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
“Democracy is not like a football game you watch from the gallery. It's something you perform yourself,” said Shiva.
For an example of participation, she pointed to the food pantry that opened on Sept. 21 in First United Methodist Church, 211 N. School St., Normal. The food pantry resulted from church members, ISU social work graduate student Jeanna Campbell and Normal Township Supervisor Sarah Grammer all becoming aware of increased food insecurity among college students in the Twin Cities and seeking to alleviate it.
Shiva also complimented the growing activism among young people today.
“Young teenagers are on the street. They are teaching the adults what the crisis is about,” she said.
The recipient of the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations said people need to ask themselves, “What can I do?” It might start with planting a garden and grow to making a plan for a community to support sustainability, said Shiva.
“When we hide behind the idea of cheap food, we do not see the true cost,” said Shiva. Those costs include climate change, lost livelihoods and health issues, according to Shiva.
The way to feed the world is by protecting nature, “not by exterminating the bees or destroying the soil,” she said.
“It’s now a battle for our survival,” said Shiva. “We can begin with small changes: a garden, a school pantry.”
Shiva said, “We can’t wait because the last 20 years of corporate globalization has made government captive” to corporate interests.
It is important to see how practices in one part of the world affect the rest of the world, she said. Globalization created the process that contributes to both social and economic inequality, according to Shiva.
“Everything is connected. Nothing is separate,” said Shiva. “We are part of one Earth family.”
She emphasized, despite the size of the task, “Don’t go into despair and don’t give up your confidence.”