Three Opportunities for Healthy Food Organizations
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
The pandemic revealed cracks in our food system but also highlighted opportunities. What could it look like to create stronger, more just food systems in place of the current one, and what would that take? Here are three key opportunities for this community of practice and other organizations focused on healthy food access and consumption.
Communities in the Center
To make meaningful change, organizations must center and support communities closest to the issues and furthest from the power to shape and make decisions about systems that impact them. Organizations focused on healthy food access and consumption can play a key role in listening to communities, taking the lead from them, shifting power and resources to them, and allying with community-based organizations. For example, one way this community of practice followed the lead of communities closest to the issues was using the HEAL Platform for Real Food as a starting point for conversation around how to realize more equitable food systems.
Food Justice and Sovereignty
Many Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color are leading the food justice and food sovereignty movements. For example, FoodLab is a Black-led, Detroit-based community of chefs, cooks, bakers, and small-batch makers who use food to challenge conventions, remake old systems, and better their communities. FoodLab members cultivate community with one another, center queer Black and brown people, and prioritize sustainable sourcing. I-Collective is an autonomous group of Indigenous chefs, activists, herbalists, seed- and knowledge-keepers who are working to promote Indigenous food sovereignty and create a new narrative about historical and current Indigenous contributions, resilience, and innovations in gastronomy, agriculture, the arts, and society at large.
The food justice and the food distribution systems are currently siloed, but there is an opportunity for food distribution organizations and food justice organizations to learn from, better support, and partner with one another.
Beyond the Food Space
Healthy food access and consumption are deeply intertwined with other issues like the economy, environment, and racial justice. As co-founder of the I-Collective Neftalí Durán said, “there cannot be food justice while we destroy the environment.” And as executive director of FoodLab Devita Davison said, "I think the words 'food movement' are too restrictive. I think we have to understand that if we want to see transformation and change in our food system, I submit that [we need to be] building a social movement.... That we engage in changing the injustices of the food system by being in allyship and organizing with social movement efforts outside of the food movement." There is an opportunity to strengthen work across the food space by connecting that work to other movements like the environmental justice and racial justice movements.
Right now is the time, in the words of Davison, “to imagine, to envision, to build, to question, and to come together and think about what new food systems look like that are equitable, just, and more delicious for all.”