Just Harvest has all our admiration for their continued dedication to fighting hunger, and their unrelenting efforts to create equitable food systems inspire our own work focusing towards the same. 

We’re also regularly impressed at their success in bringing together everyone from long-term activists to folks just beginning to feel the spark of curiosity with a wide variety of events. Case in point- Just Ideas. 

The “Just Ideas” template debuted last fall with a look at how school lunch debt has skyrocketed since the universal free lunch program was dismantled (fyi- the School Lunch Debt Cancellation Act was introduced in September of 2023 and has been gathering dust in the House since; call your representatives and ask them to get on it.) 

Originally intended to be a quarterly fundraising event, the next scheduled installment on medical debt reduction was restructured as a free session instead. This Thursday, “Let’s Expand Healthy Food Incentives in PA”, constructed by Just Harvest Director of Community Food Access Dawn Marie Clepper-Hall, is next up as the second go.

“Everybody eats,” Clepper-Hall says. “Everybody has to find a way to pay for food. And everyone’s heard of someone who doesn’t pick up their prescription or pay their electric bill because they have to make a decision between one need and another.”

The decision between food and other essentials isn’t one anyone should ever have to make. This evening aims to provide attendees with information and resources to take action and make this kind of choice unnecessary. 

Clepper-Hall will moderate a panel discussion with four guests. Ebony Evans, also known as Farmer Girl Eb, is a local farmer and food supplier; as the owner and operator of a corner store, she’s additionally a cornerstone, heavily involved in both the larger community of food equity activists and the smaller community in which she’s centered.  State Representative Emily Kinkead has been a sponsor of numerous bills striving towards food equity in Pennsylvania, and serves as Secretary for the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Jodi Krall, PhD, is a member of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Community Health Division, with a concentration on health equity and well-being of children and families. Sol Moure represents The Food Trust, engaged in maintaining accessible and affordable food through incentive programs like Food Bucks.

Through the sharing of panel members’ expertise and opportunities for networking, this fundraiser will give an introduction to new food activists, an update to longtime advocates, and some inspiration to all. 

“There’s a role for everyone and everyone can get involved,” says Clepper-Hall. “The goal is for everyone to leave with a sense of what they can do next. You can walk in with just an awareness, and walk out with a purpose.”

“Let’s Expand Healthy Food Incentives in PA” is sponsored by Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. It will be held from 6-8 pm on Thursday, May 30, at Just Harvest’s space at the Highline, 317 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, 15219. Tickets available here!