Hippy Feet is a clothing company on a mission to provide jobs to young people (ages 16-24) who have been affected by homelessness or housing instability. Since our launch in 2016, we’ve provided employment opportunities to over 130 young people affected by homelessness.
The Food System
In the 1840s, my mother’s family immigrated to the United States, driven from Ireland by The Potato Famine.
Stories of the famine and how it led to new lives are so common among Irish-American families that it’s become a stitch in the fabric of the history of the U.S. We tell the story proudly — millions of desperate, hungry travelers landing at Ellis Island with the hope of a better future. A disease had swept Ireland’s potato crop, a staple of the Irish diet, and the fertile North Atlantic country could no longer support its population, the story continues.
Often omitted is the fact that surprises most people when you tell them the first time — Ireland was an exporter of grain, livestock, and other agricultural products at the time. Under British colonial rule, the country had ample food but exported it to feed the British army. Over a million Irish people starved to death and millions more left the country. Ireland’s population numbers still haven’t recovered after nearly 180 years.
Later, in the 1930s, Mohandas Gandhi’s Salt March protested Britain’s Salt Act of 1882. The Salt Act was a piece of legislation that prevented Indians from collecting or selling salt, effectively giving Britain complete control over Indian citizens access to food. Once again, the food system is used as a tool of oppression.
Today, limited access to healthy food in the U.S. is compounding a history of oppression, limiting economic mobility and negatively impacting health outcomes in some of our country’s poorest communities. Just as the food system was inextricably linked with British colonial rule in India and Ireland, it is also hindering steps towards progress and equality in 2021. My goal is to create a novel solution that gives communities control over their own access to food, enabling greater equity and allowing them to live healthy, abundant lives.
I previously held leadership positions through a number of technology organizations ranging from funded startups to Fortune 500, and oversaw the financial strategy for a high growth e-commerce startup.