CEO Kimberly Harris appears with US Senator Cory Booker, US Rep. Jim McGovern, US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Chef Tom Colicchio
On Tuesday, October 26th, CEO and CoFounder Kimberly Harris addressed a press conference at the invitation of US House Representative and Chairman of the US House Rules Committee, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). Harris spoke alongside McGovern, Senator Cory Booker, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, food activist and Chef Tom Colicchio in support of the bicameral legislation they introduced to convene a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health for only the second time in US history. The only other conference was convened in 1969 and resulted in SNAP, WIC, and other crucial benefits that ensure families in crisis maintain access to healthy, high-quality fruits and vegetables.
From her statement, “Thank you to Chairman McGovern for your commitment to ending hunger and, for your understanding that Survivors of Domestic Violence often experience food insecurity. Thank you Senator Booker for your long commitment to Survivors of Domestic Violence – it matters to us that you worked a hotline, that you want to close the boyfriend loophole.
“And thanks to all the speakers here today for your commitment to ending hunger. You get it. Everyone here today gets it. What I don’t understand is what some people don’t understand about hunger?
“My name is Kimberly Harris. I am the CEO & Co-Founder of Women’s HQ. I am a daughter, a mother, a Domestic Violence Survivor, and I am a proud member of the Capital Area Food Bank’s Client Leadership Council. I want to thank the Capital Area Food Bank’s leadership, for advocating alongside Congressman McGovern’s office, who has been instrumental in this effort. I am rooted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where my life began with two remarkable parents. My mother worked in Healthcare and my Father in Law Enforcement.
“They taught their children how to manage life under the most difficult and challenging circumstances to achieve the success we wanted for ourselves.
CEO Kimberly Harris with US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, US Capitol, October 26, 2021
“I was three years old when my father passed away. In an instant, my mother became a single parent of six(6). She was suddenly maneuvering one income, raising us in project housing, and on food stamps. My siblings and I never identified that food stamps were helping us battle food insecurity – and – we certainly didn’t believe we were low income. Food Stamps made it possible for my mother to get fresh dairy delivered twice a week to our front door. We received fresh meat deliveries. Mom shopped bi-weekly at the Farmers Market less than a mile away from our home for fresh fruit and vegetables.
“We never felt like we lived in a food desert. We had access to high-quality and fresh nutrition. The federal food system helped provide support for my mother who was navigating both the trauma of losing her husband and the father of her children.
“As an adult, my battles with food insecurity developed when I was in a relationship that turned violent. As a woman and a mother, I recognized safety and security were my immediate needs. My education and career path were interrupted. The support and benefits I received helped me lift myself out of poverty.
“These experiences helped to make me much stronger, wiser, thanks to the resources and opportunities provided by the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH DC), and the Feeding America/Capitol Area Food Bank.
“Federal emergency assistance ensured I could focus on my studies and achievements. I earned my bachelor’s degree at The Catholic University of America in Business Management and my MBA, with a focus on leadership from Georgetown University.
“It is important for everyone to understand people are not seeking ways to suffer from systemic oppression – some are just plain victims of their current circumstances. People don’t always know where to go to get help. Sometimes, even if they do, they are met with barriers.
“I understand the importance of taking care of our neighbors, our brothers, and sisters. Through a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, we will ensure families will have access to healthy food and safe housing. Interrupting and ending cycles of poverty begins with understanding the common good for all. That means leaders like Chairman McGovern and Senator Booker are working for Survivors. Senator Biden authored the Violence Against Women Act – creating a bridge to safety for many Survivors.
“Now, as President Biden, he is leading with the first-ever National Gender Strategy – which expressly addresses the intersection between domestic and gender-based violence, and poverty, food insecurity, and housing instability.
“My focus as a Domestic Violence Survivor & advocate is to develop innovations for women of color who are navigating out of poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, and food insecurity into reclaiming their lives. I want to encourage leaders in Congress, like Chairman McGovern and Senator Booker, to please continue your support of programs and federal benefits.
“Your support of community development efforts will ensure farmers’ markets like the one my mother shopped continue to transform moments of despair into a healthy foundation. Making sure farmers can deliver to local supermarkets can help create change in communities facing food insecurity. These benefits support reliable access to high-quality and fresh foods for small and large business operations providing food delivery – just as the programs did for my mother when she was raising me and my siblings. The deliveries from those local farmers meant my siblings and I felt connected to our community, and more importantly – it connected our community to us.
“Meeting women and children where they are, without judgment of the circumstances surrounding their urgent need is critical. Each one of us is worthy of dignity and access to safe housing, healthy foods, and education. My experiences are both unique and similar to so many others. I hope Chairman McGovern’s efforts to convene the Food Summit at the White House are successful. This will ensure we all have access to all our nation has promised. Thank you!”
Watch the full press conference on US Rep. McGovern’s Facebook here.
CEO Kimberly Harris addresses press conference at the US Capitol, October 26, 2021