My Dear Friends:
We wish you the best of the New Year as we enter 2012, with our hearts full of hope for a better year than 2011. It is certainly going to be an eventful year, which will culminate in a presidential and congressional election that determines the course our country takes to rebuild an economy pushed to the brink of catastrophe—and some would argue beyond—and food and justice policy held hostage to political gamesmanship.
Fortunately, our experience indicates that people in communities across the state and country have about had their fill of this business that has become usual.
We are actively engaged in listening to, and where appropriate, facilitating conversations among people who are becoming educated about food, the system that deters access to healthy and nutritious food, and what individuals and communities can do to change the status quo.
In living rooms, around kitchen tables, and in meeting halls, community based organizations are partnering with community members to explore the bold notion that access to healthy food is a human right; that the primary purpose of food should be to nourish people, and not to enrich corporations; that everyone who works in the food system should make a decent wage; and that it is not “unpatriotic” or “radical” or even political to engage in such conversations.
If you are reading this newsletter it is likely that you also subscribe to other newsletters and receive a plethora of Action Alerts. You probably know full well that at least once or twice a week you are going to be asked to sign a petition, or write a letter to a legislator, or make a phone call in support of a worthy cause.
By all means, we all have to continue these activities. It is one form of pressure that gets the attention of policy makers.
But collectively, what we are learning is that we have to do more, if we want to change the system. Because that is what we are hearing consistently, around the kitchen tables; that community members want the system to change.
You will read elsewhere in this newsletter the steps CFJC staff and members are taking to meet this need, and what community groups are doing to change the system.
Building on the Call to Action that CFJC and Food First issued at the CFSC 15th Annual Food Justice Conference in Oakland in November, Taking Back Our Food System is how we are framing all of these activities. It is a frame that has also become part of the conversation within the Occupy the Food System efforts.
It seems that Taking Back Our Food System is an idea whose time has come.
We are excited to be part of this movement that encompasses the passion of so many different segments of our populations.
Whatever your particular passion, or area of interest or expertise, what we have learned is that everyone has something to say about food and our food system.
At the most basic level we can suggest an easy point of entry to the Taking Back Our Food System movement. We suggest that you become part of the effort by hosting a gathering of your friends or neighbors to begin the conversation. Or maybe in your case, to continue the conversation.
We are developing a tool kit to be available soon on our website, but in the meantime, you can start the conversation by simply asking the questions: Is access to food a basic human right? Should the purpose of food be to nourish people, or to make profits for corporations? Or whatever question you think appropriate for your guests.
We’d love to hear what you and your friends have to say. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, we will continue to partner with community groups to hold Farm Bill Listening Sessions, Workshops, and Kitchen Table Talks around the state. We will also continue to staff the national Healthy Farms, Healthy People coalition, and to host monthly public policy calls.
Over the coming months, CFJC staff and volunteers will continue to participate where needed, facilitate convenings and gatherings when asked, and especially continue to develop the narrative of what is happening in our country, in homes and meetings at the grassroot community level.
I believe we are blessed to be living at a time when each of us has the opportunity to impact the future of our country. Indeed, it really is our responsibility.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. We are honored to be part of your life
Again, many thanks.
Y. Armando Nieto