When I began working with the Come to the Table Project in 2012, I knew that I was entering a community grounded in the good work of many others. Claire Hermann, one of the founders and first directors of the project, laid a foundation of integrity, collaboration and diversity. Claire, along with Chris Liu-Beers and Laura Beach, authored the original Come to the Table Guidebook released in 2008. The original guidebook created the framework for Come to the Table. It describes with compassion the complexity of a food system full of bounty, but also broken; while many go hungry, nearby family farmers struggle to connect to markets that enable them to sell their produce and make a living.
Claire and her co-authors collected stories from across North Carolina about congregations finding innovative ways to relieve hunger and support local food production, highlighting the work of groups making a connection between two vulnerable populations in our state – farmers and food insecure people. The guidebook also included reflections from faith leaders as well as several assessment tools for congregations to identify the needs and resources in their community. In the years since I have been working with Come to the Table, the 2008 guidebook continues to be a resource that is sought out and used by many.
Today, we are so pleased to present to you the second edition of the Come to the Table Guidebook, hot off the press!
This second edition, in the spirit of collaboration that is foundational to this work, is co-authored by RAFI, the NC Council of Churches and Resourceful Communities. As managing editor of the guide, I was repeatedly humbled by the tireless dedication of everyone involved. Hayes Simpson, our AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Coordinator, was meticulous in her proofreading and suggested edits, even when it meant yet another revision. Kathleen Marks and Jesalyn Keziah of Resourceful Communities gracefully answered every last minute question that I had while finalizing the community snapshots, even when they were on the road and in the middle of meetings. Mel Umbarger, our phenomenal designer, cheerfully accepted our endless “final edits” without question. Our contributors and the organizations described in the guide provided us with the thoughtful and powerful content that comprises the guide.
The Come to the Table Guidebook, Second Edition, includes snapshots of community groups that have pioneered innovative food access work, the current status of hunger and agriculture in North Carolina and nationally, along with new resources and stories from faith leaders and from the field. The authors and contributors hope that readers will find it useful in practice and inspiring of heart and mind.
As I write this, I’m looking out the window at a snow covered world. I’m currently camped out at Duke University’s library, since my power has been out since early this morning. Ten inches of snow and power outages across the region is not what we expected for February 26th, the date of the Piedmont Come to the Table conference! We had planned to provide hard copies of the guidebook to participants of the conference. Instead, we are sharing the book now, downloadable, free of charge, and soon you’ll be able to order a hard copy from our online store. Our staff and collaborators are also looking towards our next events, and will be delighted to share the guidebook with you then!