Who We're Following: Karen Spiller

by Robin Kelson

Last fall, Karen Spiller was at the United Nations Geneva Headquarters providing testimony to the Human Rights Committee reviewing the U.S. on compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – one of only three international treaties the US has ratified that commits nations to respect the civil and political rights of individuals.

Karen, the Thomas W. Haas Professor in Sustainable Food Systems and Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Social Work Department at University of New Hampshire, Durham, is also a member of the team behind the National Right to Food Community of Practice.  Among her many roles in the equitable public health and sustainable food system sectors, she is the lead coordinator of the Ambassador Team for Food Solutions New England (FSNE), a six-state network focused on food system transformation with racial equity at its core, and co-leads FSNE’s annual 21 -Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge designed to “build skill and will” and action to address racial inequities, through a food system lens.

Karen’s testimony focused on how the current US food system poses a risk to life and violates the civil and political rights of the working poor, especially Black, brown and Indigenous Communities.

She urged the Committee to recommend to the United States that it:

  • Strengthen local and regional food systems to restore community food autonomy, and to reduce the environmental harms caused by large-scale farming
  • Hold large-scale agricultural companies and extractive industries liable for their impacts on life-sustaining resources such as clean water and food
  • Examine current lending practices to integrate sustainability and racial equity considerations for small food producers
  • Raise the federal minimum wage to a true living wage, recognizing that poverty is the root cause of hunger
  • Make reparations to communities whose labor has been systematically exploited and have been dispossessed of their land since the founding of the United States.

Alternative Energy Resources Organization

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena MT 59624-1558

Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #314, Helena MT 59601