Kira Lou, Food and Climate Policy Research Intern
When I first decided to intern at CFJC in September, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. That’s not to say that the experience was negative in any way. It is to say that I didn’t immediately have a full grasp of the work that CFJC does every day, but I knew that they firmly believed in their work and that was something I wanted to be a part of.
Over time I slowly began to understand how CFJC operates, how they view problem solving for communities, and within that the true meaning of “community based.” Coming from a scientific background with a very technical mindset, it took me a while see the value in just doing exactly what needs to be done because the community knows what they want and what they need. I would always think, but what steps need to be taken first? Where is the evidence for doing this in the literature, or in history? I can hear in my mind Armando answering, “We just have to go out there and do it.” Because I grew to realize that if you do it, whatever ‘it’ might be, and it is successful, then that idea, program, or behavior becomes broadly accepted since it came from the people and was carried out by them.
This community-based, action-oriented approach permeates throughout CFJC’s work. Part of what they do is “connect the dots.” Again, I had no grasp on what this meant on my first day in the office, or maybe even in my first month there. But by putting food justice in the wider context of health and social equity, climate change, and the political climate, the underlying causes of unequal access to healthy food become exposed. CFJC is constantly pushing the envelope on these issues and bringing them to the forefront of conversations, while at the same time emphasizing what can be done on the ground to alleviate these inequities.
As I reflect back on my three months at CFJC I realize just how much I learned, beyond the more technical skills that I developed like my writing, communication, and organizing skills. There was in fact a shift in how I viewed problems around climate and food justice, and that new viewpoint will undoubtedly stay with me in my future studies and work. For that, I deeply appreciate my experience at CFJC, and know that it is one I will never forget.