Lessons Learned—Food Justice

13 December 2011

blog, coalition building, ED Letter

My Dear Friends:

As we all celebrate a difficult year, I choose to believe it is also full of promise. But to fulfill that promise, we need your help.

This November-December newsletter highlights expanded CFJC efforts made possible largely because of foundation support, and the volunteer interns and community members who have built the coalition over the course of 2011.

Now we need your financial contribution to move forward.

And it has been a banner year for CFJC.

Here are the benchmarks as I see it that position CFJC for work in 2012:

In 2011 CFJC moved fiscal sponsors to the Public Health Institute. As a project of PHI, we now have access to full accounting, development, and personnel services, all of which helps CFJC be more accountable in its work on your behalf.

Mothers Taking Action received renewed funding from the Network for a Healthy California, to train a new cohort of mothers in South Oxnard and Stockton, and develop a model for potential replication in other California counties.

CFJC has taken a leadership role in local California communities, partnering with local groups to co-host climate change and Farm Bill workshops. At the national level, CFJC now hosts staff for the Healthy Farms, Healthy People Coalition, a broad based effort to achieve better health outcomes and equity in the Farm Bill 2012 reauthorization process, and beyond. And at the state level, CFJC is helping to form a Council of Food Policy Councils, comprised of local and regional food policy councils and food system alliance groups.

But the single most significant event of 2011 for CFJC was the Food Justice Conference, because it helped to solidify a focus of our work going forward.

The event began with CFJC partnering with Food First to co-host the CFSC Food Justice Conference in Oakland, which marked the launch of a call to action—Taking Back Our Food System. Thanks to a sponsorship grant from The California Endowment, we were able to make this conference accessible to the community, with $10,000 in scholarships, free community workshops, a youth track for high school students, free Food Sovereignty Fair and Food Justice Film Festival. All of which meant that this was not your usual conference experience.

Here’s what we learned.

As activists and professionals—“do-gooders,” as it were, we have to move, literally, outside the typical conference/workshop/workplace space and activity(ies).

People, community members from all walks of life, unemployed residents of the Occupy Oakland tent city in Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant plaza, high school students thirsty for an inkling of knowledge as to how all the excitement will change anything, conference attendees wandering the streets of Oakland from across the country, all had the same question:

What’s next?

For CFJC what’s next is expanding the Kitchen Table Talks in living rooms and kitchens across the bay area, and across the state, in whatever form works best for a given community.

Because we learned that individuals and families have a lot to say about what needs fixing in their community. Our role, then, is to help connect the dots. We will document what residents have to say, celebrate and publicize their efforts, research resources, and connect them with policy makers at the local, state and national levels.

As part of the call to action, we will create safe spaces for community members to meet and discuss how to Take Back Their Food System.

At this point, for an increasing number of people, there really is no other choice.

We take our charge very seriously, and realize we are fortunate to have resources to begin this work.

But again, to be effective—and this is an ongoing effort—we need to grow the coalition, increase membership, and solicit support from individuals.

Please consider making a contribution today.

Thank you, and all the very best throughout the holiday season, and in the coming New Year.

Y. Armando Nieto

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CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

If you believe in these principles JOIN CFJC NOW.

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