February 9, 2023
In recognition of Black History Month, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) has compiled a list of books, podcasts, Ted Talks, and other resources for anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates.
- In her 2022 Grammy– winning memoir, Finding Me, award winning actress, Viola Davis shares her experiences with poverty and hunger during her childhood in Rhode Island. In her memoir, Davis writes “there is an emotional abandonment that comes with poverty and being Black. The weight of generational trauma and having to fight for your basic needs doesn’t leave room for anything else. You just believe you’re the leftovers.” Listen to Davis’s narration of the audiobook.
- C. Nicole Mason is the current president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Her 2016 memoir, Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America, highlights Mason’s experiences with hunger and growing up in poverty. Her school and public assistance programs helped alleviate challenges surrounding hunger, but there was stigma around receiving assistance. Mason recalls that at 5 years old, “my first meal was often eaten in the school cafeteria … growing up, I believed my family was the only one in the neighborhood that suffered a food shortage at some point during the month. I did not know until recently that more than likely, behind every three doors in many of the neighborhoods I lived in, there was [a] child wondering where his or her next meal would come from or [a child] feeling too embarrassed to ask for something to eat (Chapter 6).”
- In his 2023 memoir, Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes, sports media icon Stephen A. Smith discusses overcoming adversity, including food insecurity, to become a leading sports media personality.
- In his 2022 memoir, Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House, Chef Andre Rush shares his journey from working on his family’s farm as a child in rural Mississippi, to joining the U.S. Army Reserves and working in kitchen patrol, to serving as the White House chef.
- The 2021 The New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee examines how the American economy so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis, to rising student debt, to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. In the book, McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm — the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. McGhee interviewed founding FRAC President Ron Pollack for this book. In his interview, Pollack shared the vision for America that has guided him through five decades of advocacy for anti-poverty and anti-hunger work. Ron said that, in his vision, “nobody in this country is deprived of the necessities of life — whether it’s food, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s housing — in a country that’s as wealthy [as the United States].“ Listen to the podcast series that serves as a companion guide to the book.
- Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes From Across the African Diaspora [A Cookbook] compiles contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe. This book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from “Homeland” to “Migration”, “Spirituality” to “Black Future”. It offers delicious recipes, moving essays, and artwork.
- Chef Marcus Samuelsson Says Good Food Is a Civil Right: While on NPR’s The Limits with Jay Williams in 2022, Chef Samuelsson talked candidly about overcoming adversity and poverty to become one of the most recognizable and respected chefs.
- In 2022, Food Podcast, presented by Clearview Federal Credit Union on the TribLIVE podcast network Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, celebrated Black History Month by learning more about food insecurity and race in the Pittsburgh region. “African Americans are three times more likely to experience food insecurity than their white counterparts,” said Godfrey Bethea, the Food Bank’s vice president of Equity, People and Culture on the podcast. “It underlines that there are institutional issues that need to be addressed. We need to know how to address it. We need to be able to identify the root cause. It’s not just providing food; it’s understanding the root cause of the food insecurity.”
- Communities of color experienced the impacts of hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic at higher rates than other communities in the United States. The Racial Equity & Hunger National Learning Network was designed to educate, inspire and enable those interested in advancing racial equity and ending hunger through sharing experiences, expertise, and recommendations from experts around the country. The first three episodes of their podcast series focus on race, the pandemic, and hunger in the African American community.
- The 2015 Ted Talk from Mia Birdsong, “The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True”, discusses people experiencing poverty and not overlooking their part in the fight to end poverty. As she states during the presentation, “let’s honor the skills, drive, and initiative that poor people bring to the struggle every day.”
- Sofia Charlot, a former 2021–22 Emerson Fellow at Maryland Hunger Solutions, developed a field report titled Let’s Talk About Race in the Anti-Hunger Workplace. This report shares a qualitative analysis organizational approach for addressing race at anti-hunger organizations, especially since “the anti-hunger movement has a stated goal of ending systemic hunger by addressing root causes.”