Cartoon depicting characters fighting hunger.

Raise Your Voice: MontCo Anti-Hunger Network's 3rd Annual Conference

On Friday, May 12, 2017, the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network (MAHN) hosted its 3rd annual conference for the county's emergency food network. Close to 100 attendees from many of the county's food pantries and soup kitchens, joined county officials, foundation staff and other key stakeholders in the system for a day of inspiration, networking, learning and conversation. The focus of this year's conference was on advocacy.

Jeremy Everett, Senior Director for the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University provided an emotional keynote, helping attendees reconnect to why they work to provide food and reduce hunger. He reiterated the importance of small victories, and how everyone can have greater impact by working collaboratively and with compassion for all. 

Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Val Arkoosh spoke on the importance of connecting food and health, and applauded the efforts of the MAHN to continually improve the system. 

Attendees also heard preliminary results from two surveys conducted earlier this year. Diana Reighart of the Coalition presented data specific to Montgomery County from a regional survey of food pantry infrastructure. Consultant Liz Peteraf gave an outline of findings from a client survey conducted at 18 pantries within the county in March.

Stu Bush from The Open Link and Suzan Neiger Gould from Manna on Main Street provided an overview of the recently created strategic plan for the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network.

Kathy Fisher of the Coalition Against Hunger and Emma Kornetsky from Philabundance jointly presented on what efforts individuals could take to advocate on behalf of their clients. 

Pantry Peer Learning Circle facilitator Robin Rifkin assisted with small group work in the afternoon, and Chrissie Bonner of Illustrating Progress documented the entire meeting across one wall of the room.

The day wrapped up with a hearty thank you to Sean Breslin of Philabundance for his two years of dedication and leadership in providing backbone administrative support to the MAHN. Philabundance is shifting its role and will remain engaged with the MAHN. The MAHN Governing Board is working to select a new backbone agency to lead it into the future. 

For more information about the conference, including additional photos and all of the presentations, visit the MAHN conference website.