Organizations Making a Difference

June 2014: Charity Hicks

Image courtesy of emeac.orgWe’re sending heartfelt well wishes and loving blessings to Charity Hicks, a fearless leader and our sister in the food justice movement, as well as to her family and friends. Charity remains in critical condition after a hit and run accident in New York City in late May, where she was scheduled to present on a panel at the Left Forum. In her honor, we wanted to highlight some of her incredible work and details on how to contribute to her family fund.

Charity Hicks is a Detroit-based food and environmental justice activist. She uses her knowledge of place-making and regional economic development to frame the food and agricultural system from perspectives of health and nutrition, environmental and ecological justice, and economic equality. She has dedicated her life to speaking out and fostering change for marginalized populations like African American farmers, Indigenous women, and low-income families that are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Charity serves as the Policy Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), a local anchor for the national Climate Justice Alliance, where she weaves her deep ecological understanding and powerful relationship building skills into her work. The EMEAC empowers the Detroit community to protect, preserve, and value the land, air, and water, and sponsors numerous educational events and workshops in the city. Through her work with the EMEAC, Charity help found the Detroit Food Justice Taskforce in 2009, an organization of 12 community-based groups focusing on food sovereignty.

In 2011, Charity was chosen as one of the first four Fellows of the Everybody at the Table for Health (EAT4Health) project created by the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. She has worked with the foundation to help bridge the gap between grassroots community organizing and national advocacy. Nationally, she works with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, recently organizing Food Sovereignty Award recipients from Haiti and Brazil to visit urban farms in Detroit. Charity also sits on numerous councils and groups in Detroit, including the Detroit Public Schools Health Council, Future’s Taskforce of the Community Development Advocates of Detroit, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and was a leading member of the team that wrote the City of Detroit Food Security Policy in 2008.

Charity never turned down an opportunity to speak and spread her message, advocating for those whose voices are otherwise silenced. Recently, she spoke at the 2013 March against Monsanto in Detroit, the EDGE Funders gathering, and the 2014 Kellogg Foundation Food and Community Conference, where she urged for more grassroots organizing and citizen engagement in the food movement. In the weeks before the accident, Charity had been spearheading the public’s response to the Detroit water shut-offs and practicing civil disobedience in protest of the privatization of Detroit’s water.  Charity believed “your human dignity shouldn’t be truncated because you’re priced out of the commodification of an essential resource.”    In her work, she eloquently illustrates the connections between climate change, the polar vortex, poverty, and environmental justice, and inspiring citizens to fight against a system where access to water is being used as a weapon.

Working in multiple fields at once, Charity maintains a holistic view of environmental justice and a relentlessly positive attitude. She often speaks of healing relationships between ourselves and others—focusing on lifting up and congratulating each other, and between ourselves and the earth. Most importantly, Charity emphasizes that before we can make positive change in the world, we have to heal our relationship to our own selves—in body and in spirit. In a recent interview, she mused, “I can’t just complain and call for a solution; I have to be it.” Through her work in Detroit and in movement building around the country, we at CFJC believe she is living out that affirmation, and offer our most sincere well wishes to Charity and her family.

Charity remains in a hospital in New York City with her husband by her side. Please contribute whatever you can—100% of donations will go to meeting her needs.

To donate:

(1) Go to www.emeac.org

(2) Click “MAKE A DONATION”

(3) Name your donation and type “For Charity Hicks” under “Dedication or Gift” in the designated box

You may also mail donations to the EMEAC office, but be sure to write “For Charity Hicks” on the check or money order.

EMEAC
C/o Charity Hicks
4605 Cass Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201

Thank you for any donations or thoughts.

May 2014: Alliance for Climate Education

May14ACE

ACE_MASTER_LOGO_RGB-01The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) educates and inspires young people to break through the challenge of climate change. By holding Action Labs, ACE helps to develop the skills of high school students so they can be leaders and take action to address the impacts of climate change in their communities. Action Labs are open to motivated, creative high school students who have experienced the ACE Assembly and are ready to take climate action in their communities; as well as youth allies including teachers, parents, and local organizations. Youth Action Labs are a way to get connected and ready for climate action.

Through a series of Youth Action Labs, AshEL Eldridge of ACE has been working with high school students across the Central Coast and Bay Area to educate their communities about the relationship between the food system, climate change, and health. The Action Labs are a place for the students to talk about issues their community and family faces on a daily basis and how it relates to food, climate, and health. From these discussions, the students recognized that farmworkers—their family members—are among the hardest workers in the U.S. and yet they have some of the lowest wages and least protections. While Salinas is considered to be the “salad bowl of the world,” the farmworkers who help to bring organic, healthy produce to people often do not have access to this food themselves. Furthermore, farmworkers are increasingly impacted by climate change as dust in the field increases due to drought, an increase in severity of heat illnesses and death, increase in food insecurity because of rising food prices, and the birth defects and negative health impacts due to pesticide exposure. As part of a solution to these issues, the students from Salinas, Watsonville, and Gonzalez decided they wanted to create a Central Coast Farmworker Appreciation Day.

The movement to create healthy communities begins with appreciation. The Central Coast Farmworker Appreciation Day is a day not only to express gratitude to the hardworking people who put food on our plates, but also educate the community about the connections between food, climate change, and health. The goal of the day is to bring together youth, farmworkers, community leaders, local organizations, businesses, and public officials to celebrate farmworkers, while creating a platform for the Central Coast community to raise their voices around issues that support the environmental, economic, and physical health of the Central Coast region.

Check out this short video to learn about the work leading up to this historical day, and for more information or to get involved in the Central Coast Farmworker Appreciation Day please contact AshEL at ashel.eldridge@climateeducation.org 

 

April 2014: LifeLong Medical Care and OBUGS

LifeLong Medical Care is a non-profit organization with nine community health centers that provide health care and social services to underserved people of all ages living in Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond, and Novato. Oakland Based Urban Gardens, a program of LifeLong, uses schoolyard edible gardens as an outdoor classroom to teach children about growing and cooking their own food, and eating healthy. The OBUGS program offers an opportunity for children and youth ages 5-14 to have a break from their indoor studies. Children living in urban neighborhoods, surrounded by cement, buildings, and roads, otherwise may not have any opportunity to experience nature and its valuable lessons. To learn about the program, I spoke with Keturah Kornbluth, OBUGS’ Program Coordinator, and she provided insight as to how transformative OBUGS can be for kids.

Keturah shared a story with me about a boy who ate hotdogs, played video games, and did not eat vegetables. When his grandmother dropped him off for the OBUGS summer program, she warned that he would be a bit squeamish. That day, the children made their own fresh salsa using ingredients from the garden. Once the young boy saw the other kids eating the garden-grown food, he too decided to eat the fresh salsa. He smiled, loved the salsa and wanted the recipe. Over the summer, he grew to like vegetables, cooking, and wanted to be sure that his family was eating healthy. His grandmother was amazed by the young boy’s new interests.

His transformation shows that if given the opportunity to connect with their food, kids will enjoy nutritious foods and gain the knowledge necessary to help their families eat healthier. When OBUGS’ kids share their experiences with their families, friends, and neighbors the impact extends beyond the schoolyard and into the entire community.

More about OBUGS:

OBUGSOBUGS was founded in 1998 when two women, Margaret and Dorothy, bought land in West Oakland to start a community garden. The garden drew the attention of neighborhood kids, which gave the women the idea to start a school gardening program and partner with existing afterschool programs. OBUGS became a program of LifeLong in 2012 to supplement the existing LifeLong school-based clinic approach by reinforcing preventative health care through nutrition. When OBUGS is at full capacity, Keturah works with two gardening instructors and one garden manager at 4 sites, Lafayette Elementary School, St. Martin de Porres Elementary School, St. Patrick Middle School, and West Oakland Middle School, reaching approximately 400 kids.  The OBUGS volunteer program, Urban Adamah fellowship volunteers, and the LifeLong AmeriCorps program provide much needed support. Eventually, OBUGS is looking to donate produce grown in their gardens to the LifeLong health centers. The children will then have the opportunity to help people in their community that are most in need by increasing access to fresh and local produce.

 

 

More about LifeLong:
Currently, LifeLong donates food at their health care centers by partnering with farmers’ markets, organic farmers, and local bakers. The organization works with senior centers to formulate healthy diet plans for the elderly and partners with the Ecology Center’s healthy food prescription program to provide incentive for people to buy produce at farmers’ markets. LifeLong sees healthy food as an important preventative health care strategy.

LifeLong works to eliminate health disparities and provide health care to those in our communities that otherwise would not have access to the health care that they need. The centers provide primary health care, dental care, pediatric, adult and geriatric care, as well as chronic disease and HIV/AIDs treatment. Recognizing they still do not have the ability to serve everyone, LifeLong collaborates with community organizations and local health departments to advocate for system and policy change on county, state, and federal policy levels. LifeLong’s OBUGS program is just one example of how their impact extends beyond basic medical care. Their integrative approach serves as an equitable model for communities everywhere.

OBUGS is currently looking for volunteers for the 2014-2015 school year, beginning in September. Volunteers will help Keturah with the school programs or help the garden manager in the gardens. To become an OBUGS volunteer, contact Keturah at kkornbluth@lifelongmedical.org

For more information about LifeLong Medical Care, please visit lifelongmedical.org.

March 2014: Ecology Center

March 14. Ecology Center, Market MatchFarmers’ markets make it possible for surrounding community members to buy local and fresh produce encouraging healthier communities while supporting small, local farms. Over 300 farmers’ markets across California accept CalFresh EBT, the program formerly known as Food Stamps and nationally called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.) As of 2013, 140 of these farmers’ markets were participants in the statewide Market Match Program that matches SNAP dollars spent at farmers’ markets by shoppers, enabling them to buy more fresh produce. Any farmers’ market that accepts SNAP benefits is eligible to participate in the Market Match Program and could receive funding from the Ecology Center to do so. Some markets have capacity to do their own fundraising, but choose to join the Market Match Program for the extra benefits of being part of a statewide program, such as technical assistance, outreach, marketing, joining a learning community and other forms of support. The Market Match Program is primarily funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The Market Match program was founded by Roots of Change in 2009 and because of their demonstrated leadership and experience, in 2013 the program was handed over to The Ecology Center. The Ecology Center has been assisting farmers’ markets in adding CalFresh EBT access since 2003 when paper Food Stamps went to EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards. The Ecology Center’s experience and leadership with CalFresh EBT and their work to convene farmers’ markets around the state will help bring the program into the future and enable the Market Match program to be offered at more markets across the state. The Market Match Program is administered by the California Market Match Consortium, a collaborative group consisting of community based organizations and farmers’ market operators all running Market Match. Currently, the consortium has 12 members, but will expand to 15 in 2014. As the lead organization, The Ecology Center provides overall programmatic direction, fundraising and promotional and technical assistance, and helps to develop the program’s central messaging.

In order to increase awareness of the Market Match Program, the Ecology Center launched the Farmers’ Market Finder in January (FMFinder.org) The Finder uses an interactive map to show shoppers which markets accept SNAP benefits, and which markets offer the Market Match Program. It is accessible via the Ecology Center’s website and as a mobile application. The Finder was piloted through a partnership with Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services through SNAP-Ed funding and has helped to increase the amount of EBT transactions at farmers’ markets to date.

For more information, visit: www.ecologycenter.org/food or contact Carle Brinkman, Program Manager, at carle@ecologycenter.org

February 2014: Community Water Center


Through community organizing, education, and advocacy, the Community Water Center works to promote access to safe, clean, and affordable water. The organization works closely with local residents in San Joaquin Valley and other communities to address current water challenges in efforts to move towards locally sustainable solutions. By offering clean water advocacy trainings for local residents, providing technical assistance to local water boards, and serving as a legal counsel to small, disadvantaged communities, the Community Water Center provides momentum to the fight in the Central Valley against unsafe and unjust water conditions.

The work that the Community Water Center does focuses on four program areas: policy advocacy, long-term solutions, interim solutions, and protecting groundwater. The Community Water Center advocates on a local, regional, statewide, national, and international level for legislation that combats drinking water challenges. An important part of their work is to empower local communities in order to shape long-term, sustainable solutions for an equitable drinking water system. While the foundation for long-term solutions is being set, the Community Water Center implements California Department of Public Health certified Point of Use filters to remove drinking water contaminants such as nitrate and arsenic. The organization also works to prevent fertilizers, manure, and pesticides from contaminating San Joaquin Valley drinking water supplies.

For more information visit, http://communitywatercenter.org 

January 2014: Urban Adamah by Sarah Schmitt, CFJC Intern

The following is from an interview with Kat Morgan, Office and Special Programs Manager at Urban Adamah

 Urban Adamah is a community urban farm located on a one acre lot in West Berkeley. Surrounded by restaurants, office buildings, mechanics, and shops, the farm stands out as a place of greenery and sustenance where community members can volunteer a hand in tending the land, spend time together and receive healthy food. The farm has raised beds that currently support the growth of lettuce, kale, peas, bok choy, chards and other vegetables. The farm is home to chickens, three friendly goats and thousands of bees. Two greenhouses, one used for seeding and the other for aquaponics, are located in the back left corner of the farm.

The organization has nine staff members and plenty of helpers to take care of the land. Three groups of 12-14 young adults work on the farm as part of a residential fellowship program in the spring, summer and fall. The fellowship program is a community training urban agriculture program where the fellows practice progressive Jewish living, learn urban agriculture techniques, and spend time once a week interning at other food justice organizations. Urban Adamah also runs educational programs in environmental stewardship and growing food for school-age children through summer camp and Hebrew school on the farm programs. Other programs are open to the public and include volunteer work days, workshops, and events held to celebrate Jewish agricultural holidays.

Urban Adamah donates 90% of everything grown on the farm through the weekly farm stand and weekly donations to LifeLong Medical Care. On Tuesdays, food is donated to LifeLong Medical Care, a medical facility for people with low income or those that do not have health insurance. On Wednesdays, food is donated to residents of Urban Adamah’s surrounding community at the weekly farm stand. Through word of mouth, farm stand attendance has grown to about 45-80 people each week. On top of the produce harvested each week, Urban Adamah receives food donations from partners in the community to give away at the farm stand. Every week, The Acme Bread Company donates bread, Whole Foods Market donates milk and on January 8th Peet’s Coffee and Tea donated tea.

Due to the success of the farm stand over the past three years, Urban Adamah has made changes and supported additions to the farm stand using input from farm stand goers. A new system for handing out food, the addition of a free market table for community members to donate clothing and other material items, and a weekly yoga class for farm stand attendees have contributed to the evolution of the farm stand. Resultantly, those lining up for the farm

stand receive food in a manner that is agreed upon and the free market and yoga classes provide ways to engage in the farm beyond receiving food donations. It is important to Urban Adamah to have the farm stand and associated activities reflect the wants and opinions of the community members they serve.

For more information visit, http://urbanadamah.org.

November 2013: Rural Climate Network

The Rural Climate Network is a collaborative project between the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and partner organizations. The idea for the network was born at the 2011 National Rural Assembly, when a climate change working group formed in response to the lack of collaboration among rural communities regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation. Rural, natural resource-dependent communities are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as they are often those most closely linked to natural ecosystems for their economic, social and environmental well-being. The Rural Climate Network is intended to foster collaboration that will eventually get at the complex issues that create rural injustices.

The aim of the Rural Climate Network is to meet the climate challenge from diverse yet shared rural contexts. The network intends to connect rural organizations and individuals with other likeminded groups and citizens around the country. The “members” section of the website provides information about the work Rural Climate Network member organizations are doing with their communities to address the changing climate.

In addition to promoting the work of its members, the Rural Climate Network also works to advance practical strategies to adapt to and mitigate the current and anticipated effects of climate change. The intent is to document and disseminate innovations, best practices, impacts and other stories on what real people in rural communities across the country are already doing to take on this enormous challenge.

To learn more, visit www.ruralclimatenetwork.org.

October 2013: Label GMOs SF

On November 6, 2012, San Francisco overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 37. With 68.2% of the vote, the highest percentage of support in the state of California.

The SF grassroots coalition to Label GMOs has decided to look beyond the ballot box and partner with community leaders in celebrating success stories that nurture the  future we all want: a more just and sustainable food system for all. Label GMOs SF partners with allies in connecting seed to table, to uplift the priority of long term well-being.

Most recently, Label GMOs San Francisco has partnered with Slow Food San Francisco, Vital Systems, Rainbow Grocery, Slow Food San Francisco, BiRite, Waldorf SF Outdoor Education and Sierra Club SF, to host the free Greater Good Food (is) Fair in San Francisco. An event celebrating food, free of genetic modification. Label GMOs invites us all to work together and continue building-on the ground swell underway for long term well-being and the “Greater Good” of us all.

September 2013: Alameda Point Collaborative’s Farm2Market Project

The Farm2Market Project is a program of the Alameda Point Collaborative (APC), a non-profit organization that provides housing and supportive services to families whose lives have been impacted by homelessness and disabilities. Located on the former Alameda Naval Air Station, Farm2Market is a support service program that provides paid work-training opportunities for APC residents engaged in workforce re-entry through an On-the-Job Training (OJT) Program.

Originally developed as a nutrition education and leadership development project for the youth of APC, the farm, then called “The Growing Youth Project,” focused mainly on issues of food access and healthy eating.  Re-designed as Farm2Market, the physical farm site now meets two priority APC community needs; providing healthy food alternatives and nutrition education, and through the development of a work-training environment where resident job trainees can develop transferable skills and tools.

The new goals carry over the Growing Youth Project (GYP) vision to provide information, education and access to healthy food alternatives.  The experience of homelessness can severely impact an individual or family’s ability to access healthy, nutritious foods and fresh produce. When homeless, meals are often obtained through soup kitchens, shelter meals and/or fast foods. Having the ability to make food choices or to prepare one’s own food is limited. Farm2Market produce is key to developing a new relationship and culture related to food and nutrition.  Produce from the Farm2Market farm is used as the foundation of every meal or refreshment served at APC sponsored activities and meetings, and is available for all OJT’s who work at the farm site.

Simultaneously, there is a strong correlation between the experience of homelessness and lack of income from employment.  For many, undiagnosed and untreated disabilities have kept people out of the workforce.  For others, irregular, spotted or non-verifiable work histories and long-term unemployment result in major challenges to obtaining and maintaining employment.

Farm2Market was specifically designed to use farm tasks to build general employability skills and tools.  The general goal of the program is not to train “farmers”, therefore, all tasks on the farm are discussed in the larger context of the skills practiced.  Farm2Market tasks such as soil and bed preparation, greenhouse propagation and plant care teach long term planning skills.  Weeding, irrigating, pest control and harvesting practice inventory development and management skills. While washing and preparing produce for market exercise the importance of quality control, product display, customer service and marketing skills.

Farm2Market operates as a small business Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and wholesale distribution operation, which in turn helps to fund the farm employment project.  The CSA member program initiated its first season in April 2013 with ‘seasonal’ 3 month memberships.  Working as a member of the Farm2Market team, trainees not only learn work readiness skills and engagement tools, they learn and understand how each workplace task is essential to the success of the production of quality fruits and vegetables to meet inventory needs for market commitments.  As such, unlike traditional CSA memberships, Farm2Market memberships support the resident on-the job training program by funding farm operations.

CSA shares, and more information about the project, are available at http://apcollaborative.org/csa/.

August 2013: National Family Farm Coalition by Marine Dageville, CFJC Intern

The following is an interview with Kathy Ozer, Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition 

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) is a grassroots association representing family farms that are dealing with challenging economic times.  NFFC works on empowering family farms to reduce corporate control of agriculture and “building sustainable, economically just, healthy, safe and secure food and farm system.”  The conditions of the United States food and farm policy has created hardships for farmers, which NFFC is hoping to change by: urging Congress to enact the Food from Family Farms Act, restoring competition to the farm and food sector, negotiating fair trade agreements, promoting food security and food safety, holding US government agencies accountable, and minimizing the risks of genetic engineering.

In a recent talk with NFFC’s Executive Director, Kathy Ozer, she explained some of the intricacies of the dairy industry specifically in relation to the Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill debate has mainly focused on whether to implement the House or the Senate plan for dairy subsidies. The Senate-passed bill contains the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP), which would impose limits on the milk supply that would artificially increase the price of milk and provides dairy farms with a revenue insurance subsidy program. The House Goodlatte-Scott Amendment eliminates the production limits (and therefore the price increases), but still contains a dairy farm revenue insurance program that would deliver the vast majority of the insurance subsidy payments to the largest dairy farms.

However, Ms. Ozer explained that the DMSP versus the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment debate is not the frame we should use when discussing the debate on dairy reform, that those are just “one of many proposals on the table right now.”  She highlighted that the debate should really focus on a farm program that gives more control to farmers to obtain fair prices. One way this proposal has come to fruition is through the Food from Family Farms Act.  NFFC states “The Food from Family Farms Act assures a fair price through a cost of production price support system, food and energy security reserves, and conservation programs with full planting flexibility to avoid wasteful overproduction.”  For dairy the act would have buyers of milk – for example, dairy processors –pay a fair price for milk to the dairy farmers rather than current prices, which are way under the production costs.

As with many other farm and food issue areas, the dairy issue “is a much bigger issue than just the Farm Bill, there are a lot of other bills that are contributing to the manipulation of prices.”  NFFC noted that the increased consolidation of the dairy industry has greatly impacted farmers and consumers, and that they will continue to   report the reality of the situation, that “many co-ops are working in agribusiness interests and not the interest of the farmer.”

CFJC is proud to be working with an amazing organization like the National Family Farm Coalition, and we are excited to keep collaborating with them through the Getting Our Act Together (GOAT) Process on the Farm Bill.

July 2013: California Food Policy Council by Marine Dageville, CFJC Intern

The following is from an interview with Michael Dimock, President of Roots of Change

The California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) was formed by Roots of Change to support members of the food movement that sought to collaboratively affect policy at the local, state, and federal levels. In the summer of 2011, Roots of Change asked Food Policy Councils, Food System Alliance Groups, and others to convene and discuss how they could be more effective in making their communities more healthy and resilient. The California Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Diana Dooley, and Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, co-hosted the meeting in Sacramento, out of which was developed a calendar, preliminary agenda, and set of potential policy goals. Since the initial meeting, 27 of 30 Food Systems Alliance and Food Policy Council groups in California have agreed to a set of guiding principles for policy goals and operational guidelines of deciding which policies to pursue and how. Members of the Council believe that through food and agriculture legislation California’s various communities, ecosystems, and businesses can be safer, healthier, and more prosperous. One challenge of the CAFPC is that different food policy councils and alliances around the states are at  varying levels of maturity. Some are large, some small, some developed, and some just beginning. However, as Food System Alliance Groups and Food Policy Councils around the state continue to evolve, it is believed the CAFPC will be able to work together more effectively.

According to Mr. Dimock, the CAFPC “is a manifestation of the maturation of the food movement in California.” He believes that the CAFPC is doing a good job of bringing partners together and getting work done.  A tangible goal that he believes the CAFPC will achieve by its December 2013 Summit Meeting is a legislative report card, which will help clarify for the public where different legislators stand on existing policies in California relating to food and agriculture. Leading up to the December Summit, CAFPC continues to refine a platform of policy goals and 2014 priorities that will lay the foundation for future campaigns.

According to Mr. Dimock, the CAFPC is doing great things to ensure that policies will promote an equitable food system, and at the same time, maintaining the continuity of farms and food businesses. In the words of Mr. Dimock, this is a “natural evolution” for California.