By Zoee Tanner, Education and Curriculum Development
While the Bay Area has always had a need for bettering food security, the problem of addressing lack of accessibility to fresh, nutritious, and culturally diverse food has only amplified with the pandemic. During COVID-19 demand for food assistance in the Bay Area, like many places across the country, has doubled (Severn). Even in the absence of a pandemic, food insecurity is still a familiar and major barrier to the health and wellbeing of Bay Area communities particularly in low-income populations as can be seen in the way in 2018 1 in 10 Bay Area residents were food insecure (Duggan). Whether you are in need of food assistance or want to get involved yourself in the fight for food accessibility, the Bay Area is filled with empowering and impactful community organizations using creativity and innovation to bring food justice to the forefront of the Bay’s many diverse communities. Each Green Corner prides itself on advocating for food justice through our commitment to cultivating food security one garden at a time. There are many more organizations that share the same unifying vision of addressing food inequities, bettering health disparities, and building a sustainable future. Want to get involved and/or support food justice efforts? Here are just a few places that are working to bring food justice to the Bay:
- Fresh Approach is an organization using inventive strategies to get people of the Bay Area to fresh produce or in this case bringing the produce to them. With their aptly named Freshest Cargo farmer’s market food trucks program, Fresh Approach is able to bring fresh produce to 12 Bay Area cities thus providing immediate access to those who are food insecure. They also provide the Bay Area with access to nutritional education with their VeggieRx cooking and nutrition classes as well as gardening skills through their Collective Roots gardening program.
- Their name alone beautifully highlights the way Planting Justice not only addresses food insecurity, but also invests in the growth of communities and individuals. They have developed over 450 edible permaculture gardens in the Bay Area empowering entire communities as well as created and implemented food justice education bringing awareness and skills to communities of the Bay Area. In addition, they are committed to providing access to resources for marginalized communities to heal beyond systemic oppression as can be seen in their Planting Justice Nursery and Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. Most poignantly, their work with current and formerly incarcerated individuals cultivates a sustainable and just means of re-entry through green jobs and a culture that values social equity.
- Valley Verde is a great example of an organization going above and beyond for its community. Through their home gardening program they have created 500 home gardens and counting since 2008 all while maintaining a commitment to cultural inclusivity as can be seen in the way they provide training classes in three languages. They also provide in depth training in micro-entrepreneurship to low income families through their Super Jardineros program thereby giving resources and tools that can have a lasting impact. This equity-mindset extends even further in their La Finca community greenhouse where they host community workshops and provide further training for those in their Super Jardineros program.
- Founded in 2001, City Slickers has been pioneering the food justice movement in West Oakland through their cultivation of backyard gardens that gives residents reliable access to fresh produce. Not only do they provide garden resources to sustain such backyard gardens, they also aid in educating and empowering community members through garden skills workshops. Their commitment to community building and equity can be seen in their West Oakland Farm Park where they supply residents access to safe and sustainable green space that fosters community wellness while positively promoting urban agriculture.
Duggan, Tara. “Hidden in Hunger: How families slip through” The San Francisco Chronicle, 18
Nov. 2018, https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/The-hidden-hungryA-Bay-Area-paradox-13379274.php. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.
Severn, Carly. “Demand for Bay Area Food Banks Is Soaring. Here’s How to Find and Support
Them” KQED, 13 Nov. 2020, https://www.kqed.org/news/11847203/food-banks-in-the-bay-area-how-to-find-and-support-your-local-facility. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.