MLK Sunday Supper focuses on food accessibility

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hundreds of York County residents and leaders gathered to celebrate the legacy of the venerated civil rights icon at the annual MLK Sunday Supper at Lincoln Charter School in York City Sunday evening, Jan. 14.

Food: Now in its sixth year, the supper focused on food accessibility in the county.

“Your zip code should not be determinative of the quality of your food and food stores that are located in your area,” Lincoln Charter School Board President Edquina Washington said.

The issue particularly affects students receiving free or reduced lunch, such as 90 percent of students who attend Lincoln.

According to the Department of Education, just 19 percent of students receiving free or reduced lunches utilize the services over the summer, leaving many at risk for hunger in the off-school months.

When brought up to propose a challenge to the community, state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, suggested residents grow food of their own.

She said growing up in the city, her mother grew and canned tomatoes from their home yard.

“Canning is a lost art,” Hill-Evans noted.

She still grows food — her cucumber won a blue ribbon at the York Fair last fall — and she said it is just as possible for other city residents to do so, as well.

“This spring, drop in a seed and watch it grow,” Hill-Evans said.

More:Leaders say Trump presidency is at odds with MLK’s legacy

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Community: In attending the supper, residents were asked to donate items for the York Veterans Helping Hand, located just a block from the school.

Food for the dinner was provided this year through the school and served by Lincoln students.

The event is one of Lincoln’s most well-attended events, according to Anne Clark, director of community outreach for the school.

The school prepared meals for 380 attendants, and families continued to stream in as the event went on.

Lincoln Principal Leonard Hart said the supper was the first event he attended in York City after visiting the area from Baltimore — and it was one of the first indicators of what he called a “phenomenal” community that he ended up joining.

After speaking on the need for better food accessibility, attendants viewed two TED Talks surrounding urban food distribution and growth, as well as a short film on the Lincoln-affiliated Hope Street Garden in York City.

Third grade teacher Aubrey Werley, left, ties a "Celebrate Choice" scarf on Tanaishka Diaz-Berrios, 8, before the start of the annual MLK Sunday Supper at Lincoln Charter School, Sunday, January 14, 2018. Lincoln Charter School will be celebrating School Choice January 23 and all their students will be receiving the scarves. John A. Pavoncello photo

What’s next: Last year’s Sunday Supper theme was “Where do we go from here.” It was held just days before the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination outside of a motel room in Memphis, Tennessee.

After the event, attendants looked forward to resting up for a day of giving back on Monday, Jan. 15, King's national holiday.

The MLK Day of Service theme for 2018 is: “Make it a day on, not a day off.”

Students from the charter school's choir sang a song centered on King's ideals of self-actualization, using his most well-known phrase.

"I have a dream, one that that I can be who I want to be," the students sang.

The Lincoln Charter School choir sings the school song during the annual MLK Sunday Supper, Sunday, January 14, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

Hart said the community’s annual gathering is a call to action for the community on both hunger and for the students they are educating to continue King’s path for justice.

“It’s up to us to make sure that our children are taken care of,” he said.

“If not us, then who?”