From FRP-BC’s Food Justice Coordinator, Delanie Austin:
We are excited to provide you with an update on our community food justice project, which kicked off in early March! In the first phase, our focus has been on conducting a comprehensive listening campaign to better understand the food access needs of communities across the province. We have engaged in group meetings and one-on-one calls with many of you, and we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all who have participated thus far.
While we are currently in the process of collating all that we heard, we anticipate sharing a concise draft report in an upcoming open feedback meeting for all those involved so far. We are genuinely excited by so much of what we have heard, particularly the work that so many of you are already doing in the realm of food security! From community kitchens, fridges and gardens to grocery and meal delivery programs, food pantries, stone soup days, and the establishment of community networks for resource sharing and advocacy, it has been truly inspiring to learn about the deeply meaningful work so many of you are doing to support food access in your respective communities.
Throughout our conversations, our definition of food justice and all that it encompasses has also evolved and expanded. Initially, we centered the definition from the New York non-profit Just Food: “Communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat food. Food that is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate, and grown with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals.” While this definition served as a strong starting point, we collectively reflected on additional elements that we envision as integral to just food systems. These reflections highlighted the importance of:
♦ low-barrier food access models,
♦ autonomy over food choices,
♦ education opportunities to empower families in food cultivation and preparation,
♦ considering our relationship with and responsibilities towards the First Nations communities on whose lands we may live, learn, farm, and eat.
Notably, we also heard several common challenges concerning community food access initiatives. These include:
♦ difficulties accessing sustainable funding amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis
♦ organizational capacity constraints when implementing new programming
♦ gaps in educational opportunities and community networks for food justice work within the early years sector.
We recognize these challenges as opportunities for support. As such, in the next phase of our project, we will collaborate with the Evenings & Weekends consulting to apply for grant funding, utilizing the valuable insights gained from our listening campaign. If successful, this funding will be specifically designated for food justice programming and available for members to apply for as early as next year. In the meantime, we are hoping to facilitate spaces for further relationship building, knowledge sharing, and resource exchange among members and others interested in food justice work. Stay tuned for more details, and we sincerely hope you will participate!
If you have any feedback on the project thus far or would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to our Food Justice Coordinator, Delanie Austin, at firstname.lastname@example.org.