“Peace begins when the hungry are fed”

Brandie Banks-Bey, communications specialist with the Fresno-based Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, provided this statement on the retirement of San Joaquin Valley healthy food pioneer Edie Jessup:

Edie Jessup has witnessed and worked in just about every angle of food justice in California’s San Joaquin Valley. In 1969, she graduated from Pomona College with her bachelor’s in sociology, and now 44 years later, she is retiring as the program associate of the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP) at the end of April. “Through my experiences in listening to people, I am convinced that there is a story about basic needs and rights and how systems impact the poor, and how people want to hear about this,” Jessup said. “If people can hear, they will want to change themselves and the system toward health and justice for all and sustainability.” Jessup worked tirelessly in the San Joaquin Valley to help restore the food system and food justice. She is a longtime food and nutrition advocate and has shared her expertise at conferences across the United States.  She has been most recognized for her systems change work which led to the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing EBT/SNAP as a payment option at flea markets, changing Fresno zoning and ordinances to allow farmers markets in neighborhoods, and developing community hunger and nutrition forums. “Edie has been an invaluable contributor to our organization, food justice, and healthy food access in the Central Valley,” said Genoveva Islas-Hooker, director of CCROPP. Edie was awarded the NAACP Image Award in 2003, Way of Peace Award, Fresno Center for Nonviolence 2006 Award, Planned Parenthood Voice for Change 2011 Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Hmong American Farmers Association in 2012.  On April 18, she was awarded the Champions of Health Award from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA). Edie participates on the Roots of Change Stewardship Council, and has been a champion for a Fresno Food Systems Alliance, and the California Food Policy Council. Annually, CCPHA honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the health of the state. In 2012, CCPHA recognized Edie Jessup as one of its Guardians of Health awardees for her longstanding commitment to economic justice and her work to ensure that all Central Valley communities include easy access to healthy food and safe places to be active. “Jessup is one of the state’s most effective and tireless advocates for low-income Californians. She sets a high bar for all of us in this field,” said Stefan Harvey, senior policy director for CCPHA. Edie will be retiring and moving with her husband to Humboldt County in July 2013. She looks forward to spending more quality time with her children and grandchildren. Although CCROPP will not be able to replace Edie, the program will continue its efforts to create healthier food environments across the region. Before leaving the region, here’s Edie’s parting idea: “Peace begins when the hungry are fed.”

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