Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

The Welcome Table dishes up food and activism

Sustenance will be liberally mixed with social justice in a weekend event geared toward high school students. “The Welcome Table: Food, Culture and Community Building” takes place July 18–20 at the Iliff School of Theology.

Focusing on social justice, the program highlights the role of food, hospitality and art in various worldwide movements. Cooks, storytellers and artists from throughout the U.S. and Brazil will join local presenters.

DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence and Partners in Learning are co-sponsors of the event, which is coordinated by the Veterans of Hope Project.

“The heart of the idea is to help share stories of the way food has helped bring people together and has been a resource for social justice,” says Rachel Harding, a Veterans of Hope Project board member and the organization’s former director.

Four activist traditions will be explored during the event, including:
•    Afro-Brazilian human rights movement
•    American Indian rights movement
•    Chicano/Chicana identity and the United Farm Workers movement
•    Civil rights movement

Harding says the event is “family friendly,” and although the activities are targeted to youth, it is open to everyone who registers. The organization’s “veterans” are those who have been involved in social justice for at least 30 years, Harding says. In interviews with dozens of such veterans, she says organizers heard many stories of people coming together through sharing meals.

With this event, that history will continue.

Besides sharing meals together, participants will have the option of attending a variety of cooking demonstrations, art workshops and panel discussions.

Oscar Aguirre and his family own and operate Rosa Linda’s Mexican Café at 33rd and Tejon in Denver. On Saturday afternoon Aguirre will demonstrate sauces.

“In every culture you have your mother sauces,” Aguirre says, explaining that a variety of other sauces can be derived from those by adding or subtracting a couple of key ingredients.

Aguirre calls food “the ultimate communicator between cultures.” He says, “It’s our living, breathing history. It’s generational. It’s teaching people how to cross cultural lines and open their eyes to experience new cultures.”

Keynote speakers include Bernice Johnson Reagon, a participant in the civil rights movement and an original member of the Freedom Singers, part of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee; and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.

Donations of $10 per day are requested. For registration and information, contact the Veterans of Hope Project or call 303-765-3198.

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