At Fair Food Network, we hold a vision of a food system that nourishes whole communities, leading to improved health, economic well-being, and environmental regeneration. We believe that intentionally weaving diversity, equity, and justice into every aspect of our organization is critical to making that vision a reality.
Diversity is a fundamental feature of strong systems - from the environment to the economy. More diverse systems are more resilient and sustainable long term. We have recognized from our earliest days that having a diverse staff and board is essential to achieving our mission of growing community health and wealth through food, and cultivating that diversity necessitates intentionality and consistent attention and action. We will continue to work towards a board and staff that reflects the diversity of the communities with whom we engage while also encouraging diversity of thought and experience.
At Fair Food Network, equity refers to the day-to-day actions we take on the path to justice - redistributing power and resources, uplifting diverse perspectives, and recognizing the humanity and value we all share as people. We believe equity is at the core of a successful food system that grows health and wealth in all communities. Through our daily work, we support communities impacted by poverty and institutionalized inequities with an immediate infusion and redistribution of resources. We look for opportunities to meet communities where they are and to follow their lead.
We believe justice builds on these actions to not only level the playing field but also work towards a society that equitably distributes resources and puts decision-making power into the hands of the communities that are directly impacted by and derive direct benefit from our work. On our journey to building a more just food system, we commit to growing our skill at being in relationship with both diverse partners and the communities with whom we engage. We're also committed to our organization-wide work toward anti-racism and addressing implicit biases around issues such as gender, class, and urban/rural divides. Our goal is to advance systemic change that ensures the communities with whom we engage design, control, and benefit from their own local food economies.
As we look toward the future, we recognize that we need to continuously strengthen and invest in our commitment to diversity, equity, and justice even further in all aspects of our organization and our work. We recognize that addressing the impacts of structural racism and social inequities in the food system (and beyond it) calls for constant work, reflection, and readjustment. And most importantly, we recognize that this work is critical to co-create the world we want to live in, with a food system that works for every person and the planet.
Since Fair Food Network was founded in 2009, diversity and equity have been foundational principles of our work challenging inequities in the food system.
As Fair Food Network grew, we knew it was important to formalize our commitment to these principles, expand our work, and foster a deeper and shared understanding among our team. In 2018, we launched a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee to lead this work internally. In the time since, we have re-evaluated our hiring practice to address biases and supported a staff training on managing with equity and inclusion. We brought in a field leader to discuss the historical roots of racism in our food system and engaged all staff in attending a workshop on understanding and analyzing systemic racism as means to build a common foundation and language across the organization. Finally, we expanded opportunities for staff to engage with this work with one another with regular staff-led justice and equity discussion groups and book clubs.
With the shifting societal awareness of systemic racism and intrinsic racial bias, catalyzed to a large extent by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Fair Food Network restructured our DEI committee and shifted our focus from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to Justice and Equity. In 2021, we officially changed our name to the Justice & Equity Working Group to reflect our evolution, wider societal conversations around these concepts, and the expansion of our organizational commitment outlined below.
Today, we recognize our justice and equity work is a journey that requires diligence, care, and intention. We will continue to uphold our founding values of diversity and equity and build on the concerted work we've been doing since 2018.
Building on this external expression and vision, here are our commitments:
- We commit to centering equity and anti-racism into our work, operations, and culture.
- We will continue to grow diversity within our organization across race, class, gender, and other identities to bring greater alignment with the communities with whom we work.
- We will encourage a culture of openness and curiosity as we seek to value and respect the many experiences and perspectives we collectively bring.
- We will develop community engagement practices to ground our work in the experience, needs, and priorities of our community partners and participants.
- We will continue to invest in learning on anti-racism and social justice within the food system and beyond as we support individual, team, and organizational engagement and growth.
We acknowledge that these commitments are starting points and view this work as iterative and continual. We ask our staff, partners, community stakeholders, board, and peers to hold us accountable in acknowledging and learning from both our progress and the mistakes we will make as we continue our individual and collective journey towards equity and justice.