Cultivating community connections : social justice directives for food security and collective empowerment

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Cultivating community connections : social justice directives for food security and collective empowerment
Helfen, Matthias E.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Urban and Regional Planning)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Design and Planning
Committee Chair:
Johnson, Jennifer Steffel
Committee Members:
Németh, Jeremy
Beck, Jody

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Matthias E. Helfen. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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i CULTIVATING COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: SOCIAL JUSTICE DIRECTIVES FOR FOOD SECURITY AND COLLECTIVE EMPOWERMENT b y MATTHIAS E HELFEN B.S., University of New Orleans, 2014 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colo rado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Urban and Regional Planning 2018




iii This thesis for the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree by Matthias E Helf en has been approved for the Department Urban and Regional Planning by Dr. Jennifer Steffel Johnson, Chair Jeremy N meth Jod y Beck Date: May 12th 2018


iv Helfen, Matthias E ( MURP, Urban and Regional Planning Program ) Cultivating Community Connections : Social Justice Directives for Food Security and Collective Empowerment Thesis directed by Professor Jennifer Steffel Johnson ABSTRACT This thesis explor es the intersectional space that links community food systems with historic social and cultural frame works. In furthering food justice, food systems planners must incorporate, if not also prioritize, intersectional social justice concerns to addre ss the current inequities in our food system s . Evaluating social justice strategies in the development of sust ainable community food systems, my research explores policies, methodologies, and planning practices being used in the field of food justice. By connecting food justice activism with other social justice activities, planning practitioners and community ad vocates support community stakeholders through Collective Impact strategies, providing crosssector support, resource sharing, and educational tools to holistically address the goals for re establishing healthy communities. Applying principles of advocacy, food justice advocates use bottom up, grassroots approaches to focus on empowerment, collective education, and barrier proof participation, while providing resources to obtain and sustain fresh food access. Social and cultural contexts are explored to app ropriately address healthy food access concerns among specific population groups. Strategies for supporting equitable access to sustainable community food systems prioritize respect and empowerment and consider first the needs and desires of the community being served. Food justice principles employ the community’s unique strengths, cultural wisdoms, and powerful social ties to further strengthen sustainable food access.


v In hopes of growing the field of food justice, my research focuses on how the creation of sustainable community food systems addresses concerns of food insecurity among low income communities of color. By exploring case studies that tackle food insecurity through a food justice lens, this paper evaluates strengths , as well as potential gaps and flaws , of the food justice strategies currently employed. Through these findings, the integration of other social justice strategies may be useful in closing any gaps found and help further strengthen the community’s ability to sustain healthy and affordable food access. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Jennifer Steff el Johnson


vi DEDICATION First and foremost, I have to thank Jordan Beyer. A decade after Cincinnati, I cannot imagine my life without you. Thanks for supporting me in all the ways. Let’s continue filling out a big portion of future years together. To my chosen family, I am so gra teful to call each and every one of you my dearest “ bugs ” . T ogether we are a collective force for advancing humanity and destroying oppressive constructs —let’s keep it up!


vii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis would not have been written without my magical New Orleans community giving me drive, courage, inspirati on, and most importantly, the stubborn demand for social justice. I am incredibly humbled and inspired by your passion for dismantl ing oppression. To my German and Greek families, who have opened my eyes and my spirit to so many life changing perspectives: y ’all have supplied an d evolved many of the elements needed to write this thesis. Thank you. I would like to sincerely thank my thesis advisor Dr. Jennifer Steffel Johnson for supporting my journey at UC Denver. Whether I was home or abroad, your guidanc e and advic e helped focus my passions and ask the hard questions. Thank you to my panel members Jeremy N meth and Jod y Beck for taking time to further evolve my journey into food justice.


viii PREFACE When I was 20 I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to the 7th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana. As one often does when moving to a new place, there is an assessment of amenities that are deemed convenient to the new resident. Food related amenities always ranked highest on my scale of best places to spend time , closely followed by the coffeeshop, though one could argue it, too, is positioned well within the food realm. As I began to unpack the boxes for my favorite room in the new house (the kitchen), its emptiness of gave me an exciting jolt of opportunity: n e w city, new culture, and new ingredients and food traditions in which to immerse myself. New Orleans is a foodie’s paradise, with action shots of sugary, powder puffed beignets , Cajun spiced crawfish etouffee, and hot sausage Po’boys provid ing plenty of mouthwatering excitement for a hungry daydream. New Orleans, and more generally southern Louisiana, readily recreate these delicious experiences for family, friends, and tourists alike. I knew all of this, of course, because being Georgia bre d, I am no stranger to southern cooking and the traditions that provide the rocket fuel to the well seasoned cast irons where comfort foods find their perfect long term match. Reveling in the empty expanse of my new kitchen, it was with excitement and a sense of adventure that I eagerly sought out my local grocery and farmer’s market to fill those barren counters with the taste of New Orleans. Asking my neighbor for market options, he pointed to the small corner store down the street. When I clarified my interest in fresh food and local ingredients, his answer stood, but he added that there was excellent prepared fried chicken available at this corner store, as well as many others around the city. In an unsettled and slightly confused state, I walked the s hort few minutes to my destination, not sure what to expect.


ix When I moved to New Orleans, 87 percent of the city was classified as a food desert (Rose, et al., 2009) . The official definition is characterized by criteria set b y USDA where a household lacks food access to a supermarket based on distance and available modes of transportation (USDA, 2017) . However, this definition only scratches the surface; deciding food access criteria only in the f orm of multi national, neoliberal, capitalist supermarkets, USDA is missing many larger issues at play (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . This thesis will explore how these problematic market frameworks became the norm and yet are inacc essible to millions of Americans that the marketplace has priced out. But in that first humid New Orleans spring, what held my attention most was this emblematic corner store and its hundreds of carbon copies spotted over the city. Own or run by locals, th ese shops serve the community while catalytically controlling the eating habits of their frequenters. When I walked through that door, bell ringing, and set foot for the first time into my own local corner store, I was crushed. The sign outside read “Harr y’s Supermarket,” marking what I came to realize soon after as characteristic of corner stores that set aside one or two small coolers for wilting vegetables and a few basic dairy products close to expiration, while incorporating condiments and processed shelf safe dry goods into an expanse of salty and sweet junk foods, with a dizzying array of nicotine products and liquor options behind the front counter. At another counter toward the back, was the fried chicken my neighbor mentioned. It really did look d elicious. Silently making my way through the aisles of “food,” I gathered my spoils on the front counter: a container of ground pepper and what I assumed was table salt but found out later to be pure MSG, a few bottles of water (the neighborhood was curren tly on a regularly occurring boil advisory due to sewer leakage into the municipal water supply), and a few pieces of hot, greasy, fried chicken. Returning home, I glanced toward my empty kitchen, then took a seat on my couch and tore into my chicken drums and thighs. They were delicious. I wished I had bought a few more pieces. Good thing it’s only a five minute walk away. That’s when it dawned on me. This is what food injustice


x looks like. It’s a generational, cyclical disease wrapped up in a cheap, app etizing, short term thrill. It is an affordable drug addiction that is not only leg al but encouraged and incentiviz ed by our nation’s corporate food system juggernauts. And it is slowly killing our communities. New Orleans is not an outlier when it comes to lack of access to healthy, affordable food. The South in general has often been characterized by its heavy, fat fried cuisine, but this was not always the case. In the history of the southern states before Western Expansion, southern agriculture was the life giving economic driver of the entire nation (Thompson, 2001) . Traditional southern food was quite literally from the farm directly to one’s plate. In the preemancipated South, white land owners had access to the best ing redients while slaves were typically allowed only basic, high caloric ingredients needed to fuel their long days as field hands and hard laborers (Whit, 1999) . When most Americans think of southern “comfort food,” they are rare ly conscious of the tortured cultural history that has worked raw those countless collective hands crushing grain and churning cream, and the broken sun leathered backs that broke the sweet cane and provided the “comfort” in these rich cultural flavors. Wh en I taste that corner store fried chicken, I am tasting history through a critical lens of social injustice . When I eye that wilting , over priced produce, I am seeing through the lens of racial disparity that is rooted in the agrarian fields of the Plantation South. One cannot speak of food justice without recognizing the roots that lie in the deprivation and inhumanity of one of our country’s strongest and longest traditions: racial prejudice. As food justice advocates work ing toward fresh food access for all, are we addressing these intersectional issues of food and race fully? To combat imbedded prejudices in our food system, we must focus on where there are service and advocacy gaps in historically oppressed populations.


xi TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ .................................................................................................... 1 Loss of Food Sustainability ............................................................................................................................................. 1 Factors and Indicators of Food Security ................................ ................................................................................... 3 Research with a Racial Lens ................................ ........................................................................................................... 7 Neoliberal Market Considerations ................................ ............................................................................................... 9 Challenging the Industrial Agri Food System ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 11 Purpose of Study ................................ ............................................................................................................................... 14 Significance and Justification ....................................................................................................................................... 15 II. DEFINITIONS ................................ ...................................................................................................................................... 16 III. PRINCIPLES AND METHO DS ...................................................................................................................................... 21 Regarding Access and Empowerment. .................................................................................................................... 21 Principles of Advocacy ................................ .................................................................................................................... 21 Common Agenda for Collective Impact ................................ ................................................................................... 26 Connecting Best Practice Frameworks for Food Justice Initiatives ............................................................. 31 IV: CASE STUDIES ................................ .................................................................................................................................. 33 Case Study 1: Growing Power —Milwaulkee, Wisconsin ................................ ................................................. 33 Case Study 2: People’s Grocery — West Oakland, California ................................ ........................................... 38 V: CONCLUSIONS AND RECO MMENDATIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 44 Reclaiming Food Secu rity .............................................................................................................................................. 44 Transitioning out of Structured Racism .................................................................................................................. 46 The Future of Food Justice ................................ ............................................................................................................ 48


xii REFERENCES ................................ ........................................................................................................................................... 49 APPENDIX ................................ ................................................................................................................................................. 53


xiii LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE Figure 1: Feeding America Report, 2014 ................................ ........................................................................................ 4 Figure 2: Conditions for Shared Success ...................................................................................................................... 29 Figure 3: Backbone Organization Activities ................................ ............................................................................... 32 Figure 4: People's Grocery Logo ................................ ...................................................................................................... 41


1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Loss of Food Sustainability The year is 2018 and almost a century has passed since the United States started adopting modern industrial agriculture methods to increase crop yields and food security, an innovative attempt to feed a rapidly growing population (Adams, 2003) . We have come a long way from traditional food systems fueled by modest family farms and simple homesteaders and now find our selves trapped in a system of industrialized food, powered by transnational corporate juggerna uts, financial institutions, and market based globalized production models (Gimnez & Shattuck, 2011) . The details that led to this s ystematic change across the nation are relatively transparent . H istoric socioeconomic variable s during this transition chu rned national unparalleled industrial growth, and with research we find the catalytic moments of interwoven global context s that spurred technological innovation and capitalism . For example, t he introduction of chemical fertiliz ers, industrialized farming machinery, and a promise for exponentially greater crop yields locked many Americans farmers into a new system that beamed with promise and economic security (Gimnez & Shattuck, 2011) . With the imple mentation of genetically modified seeds engineered for imm unity to new pesticides, a foolproof, hearty yield was attainable for anyone willing to sign on the dotted line for corporate financial security. W ith little concern over the long term effects of t hese technological miracles for growth, use of these new methods became accepted as the growing system of convention (Thompson, 2001) . This ability to wipe away traditional farming practices so swiftly from our collective memor y, replacing them with an unproven but decidedly “new normal” industrialized monoculture agriculture, has allowed the corporate agriculture giants to maintain extraordinary power even as


2 the destructive properties of industrial practices continue to be doc umented through work from conservation groups and media outlets. T hese unsustainable agriculture methods have provoked uncertainty for the nation’s current and future food security (Thompson, 2001) . With the benefit of hindsigh t, the view of innovation and technological progress during the early 20th century shows a newlycommodified and modernized food system evolving into a runaway train, unchecked for balance and growth, promoting a formulaic model for economic and environmental destruction. The path to conventional farming techniques was laid during a critically vulnerable time in our nation’s history. After the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves, there was no longer free farm labor boosting the South’s long time role as the agriculture epicenter (Ransom & Sutch, 1975) . Western expansion paved the way for farming millions of acres of virgin soil that seemed at the time like an endless fountain of fertility (Neff, et al., 2008) . The cities were experiencing rapid population growth from multiple immigrant waves of the late 19th C entury, creat ing a pendulum shift of growing urban populations as rural populations dispersed . By the end of the F irst World War, industrial farming techniques incentivized crop specialization and the previous diversification on most farms transitioned into monoculture farms , consolidating into monolithic and monocultured conglomerates, what many now refer to as “ Big A g ” (Adams, 2003) . By the end of World War II, the country was no longer fueled by small rural farming communities; instead, with the help of chemical fertilizers produced by post w ar factories and the introduction of pesticides for unbounded crop yields , large farming conglomerates became the new normal (Romero, 2016) . With economic health leaching from the farmers of rural America, wealth started congregating in metropolitan cities, spurred by the manufacturing and industrial booms of the Industrial R evolution (Adams, 2003) . This monumental collective energy in cities was the priority of politicians , and the rise of the industrial city took further attention away from traditional rural economies in favor of the elite few in Big A g .


3 The environmental disaster of the decadelong Dust Bowl during the Great Depression cemented the further destruction of rural economies and traditional agriculture, digging a grave for soil fertility and rural farmers n ationwide (Neff, et al., 2008) . In the interest of rebuilding a crippl ed rural fabric, national policies began prioritizing the economic efficiencies marked b y successful ly mechaniz ing industrial innovations and repurposing the se strategies on rural farmland. “ Big Oil ” partnered with Big A g with the introduction of fertilizer , made possible by petroleum fueled factories , forever linking conventional agriculture with the use of fossil fuels (Romero, 2016) . Further collaborations of multi national corporations have been attained through the globalization of transportation and world markets , with trade agreements prioritizing economic bottom line free market profit rather than the cultivation of sustaina ble policies to incentivize healthy food system s that brings economic, environmental, and social health into our communities (Adams, 2003) . Factors and Indicators of Food Security Once industrialized agriculture became conven tion, i t took only a few decades to cement our nation’s food system transgressions into a self destruct ing model of processed convenience. T hanks to the multi national corporate effort to maximize consumerism through cheap processed food options, by the 19 70s, being o verfed and undernourished was becoming the new normal (Barber, 2015) . In 2016, the USDA report ed that over 12% of the nation’s households were mal nourished, with over 41 million Americans unable to access healthy affordable foods (USDA, 2017) . F ood insecurity continues to be most concentrated in socioeconomic ally disenfranchised communities, with rural whites and urban people of color making up most of the country’s food insecure popula tion (Treuhaft & Karpyn, 2016) . The systematic inequalities faced by these low income populations of ten have intersectional social justice characteristics . According to a report by the National Coalition for the


4 Homeless (2011 ) , the main factors contributing to food insecurity were unemployment, high housing costs, low wages and poverty, lack of access to food stamp s , and medical or health costs. In a survey conducted by Feeding America, an organization that currently serves ov er 40 million food insecure individuals, t hose facing food insecurity said they often choose between basic needs to keep food on the table (Fig. 1 , Feeding America, 2014 ) . Insecurities related to housing, transportation, employment, education, and healthc are create intersectional barriers for being able to afford nutritious foods. In contrast, wealthy and educated households bought foods forty percent closer to the USDA nutrition recommendations than lower income, less educated households (Handbury, Rahkovsky, & Schnell, 2015) . The rates of food insecurity in rural America can be explored through the number of challenges rural communities are currently facing compared to urban areas. Rural employment Figure 1 : Feeding America Report, 2014


5 opportunities are more concentrated in low wage industries, where education attainment levels are lower, and unemployment and underemployment are higher (Feeding America, 2017) . S ervices such as public transportation, child care, continuing education cla sses, and employment related needs are often not available in rural area s; rather, t hese infrastructure and resource support services are primarily found in urban setting s (Feeding America, 2017) . Food access in rural America i s based on factors of economic health and security , as well as on the level of infrastructure and ser vices obtainable in rural areas. Food justice strategies in rural populations are dependent on agrarian economic structures specific to rural infrastructur e system s and low density populations and are often more regionally defined. With poverty levels used as a strong indication of food insecur ity, rural poverty levels vary widely by region, with the Northeast at a low 9%, compared to 10.6% in the Midwest, 14% in the West, and 16.1% in the South (US Census, 2017) . Regionally, urban poverty levels are more consistent than rural regions; all urban regions have a similar poverty rate between 15 17%, with the highest poverty rate in the South (US Census, 2017) . Regional factors related to food security are therefore more central to the study of rural populations. It is a topic that merits much discussion but will not be the focus of this paper . Instead, with a focus on urban, low income minority populations, we f ind similar factors and characteristics related to food security among all US regions. In urban neighborhoods, the prevalence of food security is de termined by socio economic predictors set by the USDA and can be further evaluated by considering the conseq uences of food insecurities, including low monthly income, high poverty levels, increased child health issues and school ab s en c es , no affordable transportation options, high housing and utility costs, homelessness , reduced public benefits, medical or healt h costs, low paid jobs , and unemployment (Haering & Syed, 2009) . In the last two decades, a variety of surveys have been conducted on urban community food security, noting the prevalence of food insecurity in specific demograph ic groups, includi ng well established ethnic and racial communities, women and children, refugees and immigrants,


6 individuals and households on welfare, senior citizens, individuals with health problems , and of course populations experiencing varying level s of poverty (Haering & Syed, 2009) . These reports reveal many potential indicators and factors in terwoven among food insecure individuals and show significant correlations between specific disenfranchised groups and a lack of food insecurity . A n assessment of food insecurity predictor s among inner city families with preschool children found , after income, three factors increased the probability of food insecurity: less access to nutritious food, fewer kitchen appliances, and lo w parental cooking skills (Broughton et al. , 2006) . Another study found a link between social capital and food access when evaluating 330 low income families based on their perceived “sense of social trust and community reciprocity” (Martin, Rogers, Cook, & Joseph, 2004) . After controlling for household socioeconomic s tatus, the study concluded that increased social capital significantly decreased the chance of household food insecurity (Martin, Rogers, Cook, & Joseph, 2004) . Gender specific studies provide further insight on prevalence among women who are pregnant, have young children, or are single head of household. A 2004 California Woman’s Health Survey reported that out of 4037 respondents over 18 years old, 26% of the women were food insecure, with significant socio economic variables found. After controlling for income, greater food insecurity was found among black and Hispanic women; variables also significant were those with less than a 12th grade education, being unmarried, being Spanish speaking, age less than 55 years, and poor physical/mental health. Among respondents who receive food stamps, 71% were food insecure (Kaiser, Baumrind, & Dumbauld, 2007) . Two New York studies from the early 1990s looked at functional impairments , as well as economic and socio demographic fa c tors that could contribute to food insecurity among the elderly , reporting tha t low income individuals were three to four times more likely to be food insecure, those with functional impairments were two to three times more likely to be food


7 insecure , and Hispanic seniors were more l ikely to be affected than non Hispanic. (Haering & Syed, 2009) . Research Studies wit h a Racial Lens Historically oppressed ethnic groups have made up the low income urban core in many American cities, with black neighborhoods often comprising the lowest income urban census tracts (Schuetz, Gonzalez, Larrimore, Merry, & Robles, 2017) . Because the numerous indicators used for determining food security levels are intersectional in nature, hunger and food access within diverse urban communities will always be a complex issue. However, noting that low income urban p opulations are 2.4 times more likely to face hunger or mal nutrition (Haering & Syed, 2009) , we can look at urban poverty statistics to show what socio demographic characteristic s link certain populations with a higher probabil ity of food insecurity. Among urban populations, 10% of white households are living in poverty, compared to 27% of black households , 27% of Native American households, and 24% of Hispanic households (US Census Bureau, 2015). Black households are twice as likely to be food insecure than white households . 92 % of counties with a black majority fall in to the top 10% of the most food insecure counties (Feeding America, 2017) . These statistics help paint a picture of racial disparities when we consider that whites make up 77% of the US population, but only 42% of the low income households (US Census, 2016). Less than a quarter of the US population is a minority group, yet they make up over threequarters of low income families. With over a third of those low income families determined food insecure by the USDA, the demographic narrative around food injustice centers around minority low income families. This drastic difference among white communities and communities of color is indica tive of racial inequities found in low income ethnic communities. S tudies specific ally focus ing on racial and ethnic variables in low income communities take note of the intersectional issues surrounding race and food security . A Chicago study comparing t he


8 price of a USDA standard market basket in a low income black community and an upper middle income and racially mixed Chicago suburb found that lower income communities had fewer supermarkets and more corner liquor stores selling food than the upper midd le income suburb (Block & Kouba, 2006) . Though they found food availability and price depended mostly on individual business owners rather than store location, the researchers did note that the low income neighborhoods had less er quality foods and that supermarkets in the middleincome suburb had the best selection (Block & Kouba, 2006) . Another study looked at food establishment types located in census tracts of specific racial/ethnic classification: predominantly black, predominantly Hispanic, racially mixed, and predominantly white . They found that predominantly minority and racially mixed tracts had twice the number of corner stores and mini marts, but half the number of supermarkets . A mong low income tracts the number of convenience stores was four times that of high income tracts, with half the number of grocery stores (Haering & Syed, 2009) . Further, researchers reported “dietary consequences of neighborhood differ ences in food stores depend on many factors including the types of food available at the stores and the extent to which residents rely on local stores for shopping ” (Moore & Diez Roux, 2006) . The corner stores found in low inco me communities are 2.4 times more likely to carry highly processed, nutrition lacking foods than carry healthy alternatives (Haering & Syed, 2009) . In a study by The Food Trust titled “The Grocery Gap” the racial divide for fre sh produce access shows that only 8% of black residents have a grocery store within their census tract, compared to 31% of white residents . These raciall y focused studies show how ethnic low income populations are disadvantaged in both access to fresh food markets as well as their ability to afford healthier options. It is important to note th at many advocates of affordable food access are often slow to incorporate race as a critical factor in assessing food security. This is because , as noted previously,


9 i ncome, transportation, education, healthcare, and housing data provide plenty of evidence that food security is a class issue. While this is true, there are political, economic , cultural , and social constructs that point toward a racial divide in obtaining food security. Factors rooted in structured racism and racial prejudice have been catalytic for keeping a disproportionate number of non whites in cyclical poverty and further enforcing unhealthy living habits (American Psychological Association, 2017) . Political frameworks have historically given policy advantages to white communities over communities of color , providing greater economic opportunities, educational attainment, and job security . G enerational d iscrimination and m arginalization created social and economic barriers to entry for communities of color and propa gated mistrust of agencies and institutions, further hinder ing minorities from employing services that could help in obtaining upward mobility (American Psychological Association, 2017) . It is therefore useful and necessary to view food insecurity in urban minority populations through a lens of racial justice to further explore the challenges and opportunities for cultivating food security among urban communities of color . Neo -liberal Market Considerations The neo liberal mark et framework champions increases efficiency through top down, institutional, and capitalist principles but fails to consider how low income consumers may better fi t within a more just and equitable framework . Within the current global agri food system, these market strategies emphasize quantity over quality, us ing supply and demand to determine product ion costs and consumer prices with little federal oversight on th e nutritional quality of the product (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . Currently, Federal neo liberal policies embedded in the national Farm Bill give most agriculture subsidies to Big Ag producers for ingredients specifically used in processed foods, making them cheaper than they would have been otherwise. S ince 1980, the cost of vegetables has increased 50%, while the cost of processed foods has decreased by 30%


10 (Ludwig & Pollack, 2009) . Low income househ olds are given affordable food options in the form of processed junk food and fast food , increasing the prevalence of diet related disease s and a myriad of other health concerns , as, for example, youth malnutrition adversely affecting brain development . (Ludwig & Pollack, 2009) . By definition , t he free market requires little to no intervention from the state and is made for those producers and consumers able to take part in the market process and therefore less acces sible to low income groups unable to buy into the system. Yet even for agricultural producers deep in the neo liberal marketplace, industrial agriculture’s critical dependence on government subsidies shows that the neo liberal free market d oes not keep its own defined values (Alkon, 2014) . I f Big Ag is not economically viable without help from the State, the “free market” is already compromised. And because i ndustrial ag riculture is further dependent on high input, high output mechanisms to make a profit, the economic advantage is for those who have enough capital to increase input s , growing larger and further con solidating farms into large scale operations (Alkon, 2014) . Obtaining profi ts with larg e scale industrial crop productio n requires destructive environmental and social practices, including reliance on fossil fuel based inputs, erosion and destruction of soil , and pollution of rivers and streams . L ivestock practices are similarly destructive, with greenhouse emissions from cattle raising alone comprising 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions (FAO, 2018). According to the F ood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, t h e US Livestock Producer Industry has been under report ing gre enhouse gas emissions by at least 4% (FAO , 2016) , which is further evidence that our industrial food system has yet to own up to the destructive practices used to feed the neoliberal marketplace . I n the race for bigger prof it s , a cattle raising conglomera te may decrease quality to increase shareholder profit by pumping cows full of hormones to keep them from contracting disease s


11 spread through cramped living conditions or by giv ing them cheap, low quality feed to make them fatter faster. The se practices allow beef prices to be low for the American consumer b y perpetuating unsustainable livestock raising methods . The same case can be made for the mono crop producers who prioritize yield b efore nutritional content , using pesticides and choosing genetically mo dified pesticide resistant plants instead of those that have higher nutritional value or more flavor. Food insecure households that buy this low priced p roduce often accompan y their purchase with high caloric, shelf stable , processed foods (Kant & Graubard, 2005) . The solution for food security is not decreasing nutrition and quality to make something more affordable to low income households . T he fast food industry proves this with health epidemics linked to the availability of cheap, fast food meals in low income communities (Fleischhacker, Evenson, Rodriguez, & Ammerman, 2011) . Is it a just system when those who cannot afford nutritious food are eating nonnutritious food instead ? Challenging the In dustrial Agri -Food System There are food system movements that are challenging the industrialized agri food system. Concentrating on environmental degradation, alternative food system models are expanding rapidly in hopes of combat ing the destructive force s of the global industrial agri food system. Most of these a lternative food systems embrace sustainable methods to creat e a producer consumer relationship based on small scale diversified farming practices and regional food production, which considers the ecological sustainability through localized, organic outputs (Alkon, 2014) . The alternative food movement has created and promote d a variety of sustainable agriculture models . Organic agriculture, local farmers markets, communi ty supported agriculture, homesteading, urban agriculture, community gardens, agriculture tourism —all are frameworks meant to disrupt the industrial giants and gain back respect for ourselves, the food we eat, and the land on which we depend for that food (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . The organic food movement has branded itself


12 on these sustainable values and is now an economically successful alternative system model, with retail sales growing from $3.6 billion in 1997 , to $21.1 b illion in 2008 , and to $43 billion in 2015 (Alkon, 2014) (USDA, 2017) . O rganic and local food system s usually have socio economic and socio cultural barriers to entry (Sbicca, 2012) . Researcher s have found discriminatory USDA practices toward farmers of color , including forced relocation and immigration laws barring land ownership by certain ethnic groups (Gilbert, Sharp, & Felin, 2002) . Produ cers of color are further removed from the alternative food framework with the language of the s ustainable agriculture movement . P hrases and definitions romanticizing the country’s agrarian past do not resonate with communities of color with generational h istories of slaves and sharecroppers (Alkon, 2014) . Th is cultural barrier may send a message to communities of color that they do not fit in with the sustainable food movement. C onsumer access to farmers markets or community supported agriculture is primarily concentrated around affluent populations, with the majority in white middle or upper class communities (Treuhaft & Karpyn, 2016, p. 11) . Even among alternative production models , neo lib eral market structures are still prevalent, assum ing shared interests between all consumers, with the market dec iding number and size of producers as well as the price consumers pay in the end (Edelman, 2014) . To develop food j ustice values within sustainable food systems , production and distribution decisions must incorporate soci o economic concerns rather than depend solely on free market forces . The sustainable farming movement emphasizes high prices for the economic needs of producers, yet more expensive products further deter low income consumers (Alkon, 2014) . Intersectional issues like rising housing , education, or healthcare costs contribute to a low income household’s in ability to purchase fr esh er, more expensive products and to instead purchase canned or packaged goods. The limited a vailability of fresh food within low income communities has bee n well researched and analyzed, with classifications of “food deserts” linking low income populatio ns


13 with limited grocery and supermarket access (USDA, 2017) . However , d ocumenting food access solely within the framework of corporate chain store availability do es not provide an accurate depiction of food insecurity and leave s out other factors contributing to lack of access. It does, though, indicate the free market decisions of food stores to stay away from low income neighborhoods in favor of more economically affluent areas (Alkon, 2014) . Food desert discourse can be useful when integrated with in a broader context of socio economic barriers that contribute to the disenfranchisement of low income communities , further building a case for social justice considerations of food access. Critical co rrelations between socio cultural constructs found in low income communities of color and the rate of food security among these populations require community advocates and planning practitioners working to strengthen healthy food access to integrate social justice principles . In doing so, a sustainable community food system framework can evolve through a collaborative network that builds upon a local, self reliant food system (UC Davis, 2018) . For instance , is it possible for mu nicipal policies to incorporate intersectional issues of basic needs and services like housing or transportation by supporting a commun ity food system initiative? How can a city’s economic development strategy be designed to respond when a developer’s plan en courages a deluge of fast food chain restaurants in a community with a high concentration of low income minorities? I nstitutional oppression and classist social structures are at odds with our current neo liberal food system , yet food systems planners h ave only recently started considering factors and consequences outside an economic context (Edelman, 2014) . As the field of food justice g ains momentum and consideration by food system p ractitioners, what issues are new strateg ies addressing and how do they fit within the diverse and specific needs of unique communities?


14 Purpose of Study This thesis explores the intersectional space that links community food systems with historic social and cultural frameworks. In furthering food justice, food systems planners must incorporate, if not also prioritize, intersectional social justice concerns to address the current inequities in our food systems. Evaluating social justice strategies in the development of sustainable community food s ystems, my research explores policies, methodologies, and planning practices being used in the field of food justice. By connecting food justice activism wit h other social justice activities, planning practitioners and community advocates support communit y stakeholders through C ollective I mpact strategies, providing cross sector support, resource sharing, and educational tools to holistically address the goals for re establishing healthy communities. Applying p rinciples of a dvocacy, food justice advocates use bottom up , grassroots approach es to f ocus on empowerment, collective education , and barrier proof participation , while providing resources to obtain and sustain fresh food access. S ocial and cultural contexts are explored to appropriately address healt hy food access concerns among specific population groups . Strategies for supporting e quitable access to sustainable community food systems prioritize respect and empower ment and consider first the needs and desires of the community being served. Food justi ce principles employ the community’s unique strengths, cultural wisdoms, and powerful social ties to further strengthen sustainable food access. In hopes of growing the field of food justice, my research focuses on how the creation of sustainable communit y food systems address es concerns of food insecurity among low income communities of color. By exploring case studies that tackle food insecurity through a critical race theory lens, this paper evaluate s strengths as well as potential gaps and flaws of the food justice strategies currently employed . Through these findings, the integration of other social justice


15 strategies may be useful in closing any gaps found and help to further strengthen the community’s ability to sustain healthy and affordable food ac cess. Significance and Justification If one take s a lesson from nature and begins to holistically address the vast ecological functions that are dependent on a system of symbiotic synchronicity and balance, strategies for creating community food security r equire a similar display of interplay among all stakeholders, resource givers, and policymakers, all of whom have a unique and integral part to play in obtaining and sustaining solutions for healthy food access. In low income communities of color, historic oppression and institutional racism have obstructed sustainable food access. C ultivating food security require s i ntersectional considerations in the development of community food systems. Whe n food justice initiatives specifically target these minority g roups, the imprints of “ white savior” and “professional knows best” a ttitudes may linger among conventional practitioners and fail to address comm unity opportunities of empowerment and internal resource building . Food security has many cultural, socio eco nomic , and environmental drivers . T o successfully foster greater and healthier food access , one must consider the layered effects these interwoven drivers have in the continued expansion of sustainable community food systems. F ood justice advocates are us i ng Collective Impact strategies to connect stakeholder concerns and address intersectional challenges, while incorporating advocacy principles to encourage community leadership and participation . Y et based on s tatistic al evidence, low income communities of color are still struggling to obtain food security. Using the intersectional lens of Critical Race Theory to examine current racial and social factors contributing to inadequate community resource distribution, knowledge building, and empowerment opportunities, this paper evaluat es policies and practices in place for increasing fresh food access while building ecological health, economic security, and social capital for community members.


16 CHAPTER II DEFINITIONS Industrial Agri Food System . The i ndustr ial agr i food system is a globalized food system framework that takes advantage of low regulat ions and standards with in the neo liberal market place and uses federal agriculture subsidies to increase production for export while encouraging cheap import s (Sbicca, 2012) . Largely based on the availability of inexpensive fossil fuels, t his conventional system is demarcated by the mechanized degradation of ecological biodiversity with mono cultured , chemically sprayed, over processed, nutrient deficient, primarily genetically modified crop production (Alkon, 2014) (Sbicca, 2012) . With this system, m ost crop production in the United States that is not exported or fed to livestock goes through some type of food processing and manufacturing before getting to the consumer (Committee on a Framework for Assessing the Health, Environmental, and Social Effects of the Food System, et al., 2015) . The system functions within a free market fr amework and is responsible for 95% of all American food consumption (Heller & Keoleian, 2000) . The industrial agri food system is only economically viable because of the massive federal crop subsidies for genetically modified a nd mono cultured crops (Alkon, 2014) . The system depends on high inputs for high yields , thus denying low input producer s entry to the market. Alternative Food Movement . The a lternative f ood m ovement (AMF) challenges the negat ive consequences of industrialized agriculture by promoting ecologically and socially sustainable food system alternative s to the current global ized industrial agri food system . The recent rise of the AFM has created workable localized food system models a nd brought organic and sustainable food production to the attention of most Americans (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . The movement has effectively increased awareness of systemic failures of the global agri food industrial complex an d promotes alternatives through a variety of new food production and distribution models (Sbicca,


17 2012) . The successes of the AFM are notable in the political lobbying efforts of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition ( NSAC) and other nongovernment organizations that are working hard to promote economic development partnerships and governmental incentive mechanisms for the local and organic farming sector. The collaborative efforts of these AFM organizations have promot ed local and regional sustainable agriculture with “ slow food ” models that encourage local food production, fair trade and direct trade practices, and low input, small scale agriculture (Alkon, 2014) . The outcome of these effor ts ha s strengthened the sustainable food movement, increas ing the demand for sustainable alternatives to the industrial agri food system while restor ing ecologically threatened biospheres (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . T hese alternative options characteristically avoid negative externalities of conventional food chains but still operate within the framework of neo liberal market mechanisms, using neo liberal tools of consumer choice, valueadded product development , and public privat e partnerships , ultimately prioritizing the commoditization of food for profit (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . The use of labels such as “Buy Local” and “Direct Trade” further characterize a neo liberal approach . A s food systems res earcher Julie Guthman note s , “labels not only concede the market as the locus of regulation, but in keeping with neo liberalism’s fetish of market mechanisms, they employ tools designed to create markets where none previously existed” (Guthman, 2007) . Sustainable Community Food Systems . Th is system model builds environmental, economic, and social capital within a specific community or population group by incorporating local and sustainable economic practices of food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management . (UC Davis, 2018) . By creating community partnerships between farmers and consumers, sustainable community food systems depend on collaboration and stakeholder partici pation to meet sustainable food goals unique to the community . Community food connections are cultivated by building cross sector relationships among producers and consumers to obtain collective goals for improving affordable and nutritious food options, e nhancing farm ers ’


18 livelihood and farm labor conditions, adopting food policies that incentivize sustainable production and consumption practices, and build community health objectives through collective participation and education (UC Davis, 2018) . Food Justice Movement . Recognizing socioeconomic barriers of entry into the world of alternative food systems, the food justice movement (FJM) take s into consideration the systematic inequalities marked by other social justice movemen ts. The movement evolved from urban social justice groups wanting to confront racial and clas s based inequalities in the contemporary agri food system (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . A definition given by food justice researcher Rash eed Hislop explains food justice as “the struggle against racism, exploitation, and oppression taking place within the food system that addresses inequality’s root causes both within and beyond the food chain ” (Hislop, 2014) . T he core of food justice activis m is the focus on a radical transformation of the full agri food system, from soil to table , with objectives that address the structures and institutions responsible for furthering injustices in conventional capitalist market structures (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . This is e ncapsulated with in the view that the normal functions o f the S tate, capitali s m , and neo liberal market place actively proliferate raci sm . Indeed, Agyeman and McEntee frame the food system as inherently racial: (The market) contains political and economic undertakings through which racial hierarchies are established and racialized subjectivities are created . Thus, market based mechanisms created to distrib ute food to consumers, the food insecure and hungry, or target symptoms of food injustice will perpetually fall short because, like racism itself, food injustice has become part of the architecture of political and economic entities that dictate the rules of the marketplace and, subsequently, the food system. (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014, p. 216)


19 The mission of food justice activism c oncerns both consequences and causes of multifaceted issues “central to anti hunger, food security, labor, sustainability” and creates a radical critique of fundamental social needs, recognizing food access as an central intersecting point of social justice values (Sbicca, 2012, p. 412) . Intersectional Justice . Social justice movements in t he United States are primarily characterized through the injustices of racial and class inequality imbedded in our nation’s social and cultural constructs (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . Social injustices often bleed across a myria d of human rights conditions, proliferating housing insecurity, lack of access to education al resources, high unemployment, and household food insecurity in certain cultural minority group s (Sbicca, 2012) . With transgressions ap parent in the country’s lack of prioritizing healthy food access, the role of the food justice advocate is critical to addressing injustices through the development of best practices that prioritize racial and social empowerment in communities as well as p romoting intersectional justice within alternative food system frameworks . As with ethical value campaigns against hunger, mission oriented objectives for affordable access to healthy and local food must work within the interconnected web of other social j ustice campaigns (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . The forming of multi faceted partnerships while promoting needs of other justice campaigns will strengthen the fabric of disenfranchised communities that are suffering multiple injustices, be it cultural, social, or class based (Agyeman & McEntee, 2014) . Critical Race Theory (CRT) . CRT had its beginnings in the mid 1970s with the efforts of Derrick Bell and Alan Freeman, who were involved in the Civil Right s Movement of the 1960s (Stefancic, 2013) . Bell, a black man, and his white counterpart, Freeman, saw the victories of racial reform threatened by a national mentality of sweeping racism “ under the rug ” and removing further ineq uality issues from conversation. The duo’s theory was founded on the perception that racism is the norm of American culture. With a premise that racism is a foundational social


20 construct and a ccepted for generations as such, CRT takes the approach that hig h profile policies removing ra cial prejudices , such as Civil Rights era desegregation or voting rights laws, are an attempt to quell arguments that racist policies still exist , showcasing the most major racial offenses while fail ing to recognize the imbedd ed nature of racism in the myriad of injustices carefully and quietly interwoven throughout all areas of society (Stefancic, 2013) . Critical Race Theory produces descriptions of and insight s in to racial oppression and the racis t constructs that are still the reality for people of color in this country . Cultural constructs become reality through the creation of narratives deemed realities b y the social and cultural elite . I t is through those bias lenses that racist narratives hav e shaped and continue to shape our history (Stefancic, 2013) . By prioritizing the narratives of people of color and encouraging social contributions that uncover racist constructs, CRT lend s a transparent lens to a bias ed and in stitutionally racist nation. Interest convergence, developed by Bell and a current (did you leave out a word here?) through much of CRT, theorizes that the interest white elites have in progressing racial justice and encouraging equitable constructs is dep endent on the promotion of white elites’ self interest. Further, the mechanized and formulaic civil rights policies enacted serve to guarantee that racial progress does not work too quickly or efficiently, lest the majority becomes uncomfortable by a sudde n shift in empowerment (Stefancic, 2013) . Using the CRT lens requires one to look deeper and more critically at the way race and racism shape our outcomes when creating food justice strategies or advocacy principles that properl y address the intersections of racial justice in community food sovereignt y.


21 CHAPTER III PRINCIPLES AND METHODS Regarding Access and Empowerment An equitable and sustainable food system should promote access and empowerment, pairing resource cultivation and culturally accurate objectives formed by and for the constituents being served. This involves removing the languages of charity and aid in exchange for tools and resources for action and enablement. It requires professionals in facilitation roles rather than acting as “white saviors.” Most importantly, it invokes the advocate to break down current socio economic constructs that impair social justice advances t hrough ignorance and misrepresentation. By being mindful of the vast interconnected socio economic and socio political frameworks in play, principles of advocacy cannot be separated from social justice activism. Therefore, the best practices for the creati on of just food systems must involve activists. By becoming food activists, we are also becoming anti rac ism activists and antifascists. B y promoting healthy and affordable food access, we are also promoting empowerment, education, and resilience. Man does not live on an island, nor a community in a vacuum. Without a multifaceted, inter disciplinary methodology the advocate’s place is a precarious one and provides little context within which to work. Principles of Advocacy The advocacy planning field is full of dogooders, intent on providing engagement and implementation strategies to disenfranchised communities that have been historically forgotten and under represented in political, economic, and social systems. The needs of these communities become ap parent to the advocate when professional dissection of general wellbeing determines the need for interjection, establishing opportunities for addressing the issue within the context of the community’s wishes and demands (Irazbal, 2009) . Professional advocates may provide


22 education as well as a myriad of socio economic resources to help the highlighted group successfully implement the practitioner’s suggestions. Ethical approaches to the best practices of community development o ften include prioritizing the advocate’s understanding of the current political, cultural, and social environment of the group and enabling community leaders that already have an established respect and voice within the group (Davidoff, 1965) . Equitable facilitation of these efforts by professional advocates requires accessible and transparent functions from the start of the intervention through to the end of the implementation of solutions, continuing past the conclusion of the project scope, well into the future. The sustainment of any social development intervention depends on the retainment and continuance of community based efforts well after the professional determines their job is complete. With community advocacy projects, the long term success of implementation efforts is often the most arduous task for planners. Regardless of the short term successes prioritized in strategic plans, the sustaining of objectives and goals will start to falter if the plan framework is confi ned to short term objectives. As fervent believers in data analysis and system improvements, planners are often aware of this shortfall but have yet to demonstrate top down, large scale strategies for improving the long term outcomes (Reed, Fraser, & Dougill, 2006, p. 415) . However, through bottom up, collaborative planning, there are noted successes in how participatory actions of community members help to continue improvements established by community driven project obje ctives. Kenneth Reardon’s East St. Louis research project from 1990 is a great early example of participatory action that engaged stakeholders to be part of a collaborative process, countering traditional research methods where there was no encouraged inp ut from the groups being researched. Further evolving the process, Reardon discarded the professionalexpert approach widel y u sed in urban planning at the time, noting that community problem solving could integrate


23 direct action organizing principles and t echniques into a new community planning approach, which he calls “empowerment planning” (Reardon, 2000) . Professional expert opinion emphasizing largescale improvement and development strategies was replaced with new strategies developed by the r esidents themselves. G rand proposals were exchanged for specific small scale improvements desired by the community (Reardon, 2000) . In conducting research for the University of Illinois regarding these impr ovements, Reardon created a new code of conduct and research method that included resident stakeholder collaboration throughout research, planning, implementation, and evaluation processes (Rothman, Anderson, & Schaffer, 1998) . His collective approach proved successful in long term community achievements in the poorest neighborhood of East St. Louis. With the creation of the Emerson Park neighborhood association, four years of collaboration began with university faculty, student s, and community members (Reardon, 2000) . In 1994, the Emerson Park community developed a comprehensive five year community development plan, then went on to fulfill the plan’s objectives in just four years. Other impressive ou tcomes came with the formation of a second plan, including a $20 million housing development of 300 neighborhood homes, a new light rail stop location, and the East St. Louis Neighborhood Technical Assistance Center for education and resource support (Reardon, 2000) . In a community retreat organized by the university eight years after Reardon began his research, faculty asked residents what strengths or weaknesses could be addressed in formi ng future community objectives . C oming up wi th a long list of strengths and new ideas, the group was unable to find any weaknesses (Rothman, Anderson, & Schaffer, 1998) . This is perhaps the best indication that participatory actions coupled with advocacy principles can find long term success. Collaborative, empowerment planning methods like those used in East St. Louis may help determine collectively focused, long term steps to circumvent potential pitfalls and reveal project


24 strengths and weaknesses. Top down pract itioners who leave community members out of the evaluation process and create long term strategies without the involvement of community stakeholders will continue to misrepresent and misinterpret community needs (Reed, Fraser, & Dougill, 2006) . Without practitioners evaluating implementation successes and failures, necessary resource distributions could falter, notably among minority groups with a history of inequitable access to outside resources. With many social groups in need of resources for sustaining healthy lifestyles, outside forces unknown to the group or to the practitioner will present pressures and concerns for which even the most detailed long term strategy cannot prepare. Due to historic oppression, lack of resource s, and political underrepresentation, vulnerable populations are often not equipped to adapt to the barrage of outs ide threats , especially th ose which have to potential to dissolve t he community’s social and economic fabric in the name of gentrification or economic development. As a vocation, professional advocacy includes principles that are rooted in protecting characteristics that have been a focus of social and cultural inequities . T hese include age, disability, race, religion, gender, and sexual orient ation (Social Care Institute, 2015) . The Advocacy Project is a Londonbased organization dedicated to advocacy work for those impacted by st igma, isolation, and inequality . T heir stated mission to have “everyone to be able to m ake informed choices and active decisions about how they live their lives” (The Advocacy Project, 2018) . This is achieved by following a set of key principles that are used to help assess and evaluate advocacy services. The fi rst principle, clarity of purpose, ensures that those being served are made aware of the scope and limitations of the advocate, creating a foundation of understanding and trust moving forward. Second is the principle of independence, allowing the advocate to be free from conflicts of interest of any community stakeholders or organizations involved. Next, a person centered approach requires the advocate to be respectful and aware of people’s “needs, views, culture, and


25 experiences” to develop services that m atch the values of the specific group being served (The Advocacy Project, 2018) . The empowerment principle requires the professional advocate to ensure that those being served have influence and control over the direction of th e advocate’s services and are further encouraged to build confidence and positions of authority. The equal opportunity principle creates a standard of equality, accessibility, and diversity to remove barriers of access and inform disenfranchised stakeholde rs of the advocacy services available. A nother p r inciple is accountability . T hrough multi tiered , independent evaluation and monitoring of the advocate’s work, the popula tion being served can be confident that the advocate is meeting the needs of the community while following service obligations and staying true to principles of advocacy. Finally, there is the principle of advocate support through the creation of a resourc e framework for advocates to provide training, assistance, supervision, encouragement, and other resource needs (The Advocacy Project, 2018) (Social Care Institute, 2015) . By adhering to established standards of advocacy, the professional advocate is supplied with a foundational support and resource guide to ensure effective and comprehensive implementation of services. To integrate advocacy principles in the area of community development and empower ment, the professional must address a complex community environment with many unique, interwoven variables. To mitigate these complexities and enable a community’s desired actions and objectives, the advocate must shed the role of teacher to a community of learners. The planner is not equipped as a teacher because the community writes the core curriculum, not the professional. The advocate is untrained in the established language of the group. To obtain literacy, the professional advocate must be the learner, listening and educating themself in social and cultural courses that can only be taught by those who are an established part of the group. Furthermore, if the group is hesitant to teach the advocate, they will surely not be interested in initiating chang es that are formulated in another language or subject outside of the community’s own prospectus. The advocate must avoid the Good Samaritan role lest the perception of the professional’s “savior complex” threatens the


26 levels of empowerment in the group. T hough it is imperat ive to learn contextual lessons that a specific community deems appropriate, there are opportunities for advocacy planners to establish strategies that provide the professional a framework and protocol that may be personally implemented to insure a just and equitable plumb line for one’s own conduct in the field. As an integrated approach to food justice is realized, the advocate or “professional” must be active in removing participation barriers for community members. These barriers pre vent the individual or household from having an inclusive involvement of community’s development process. Obtaining sustainable well being for constituents will not be accomplishe d by a professional in a vacuum . A mple social capital must be harnessed and l ed by those who have a personal stake in the successes or failures of development. The advocate must create opportunities to be taught by the community stakeholders. Leaders of the commun ity are chosen by the community . T heir followers have expressed a des ire that they be in authority . The advocate needs confirmation from the stakeholders that the leaders chosen are serving the entire community, leaving no social group behind. If this can be accomplished, community appointed leaders become teachers to the advocate and can aid in the catalyzation of cross sector partnerships to help obtain project objectives. A holistic approach with self reliance and empowerment principles facilitates restoration of a community’s arsenal of resources to further community dev elopment goals . Common Agenda for Collective Impact “The power of collective action comes not from the sheer number of participants or the uniformity of their efforts, but from the coordination of their differentiated activities through a mutually reinfor cing plan of action. Each stakeholder’s efforts must fit into an overarching plan if their combined efforts are to succeed.” (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . Food justice initiatives are only as strong as the collaborators involved. Cro sssector partnerships provide the best capacity for a sustained impact. Defined as the commitment of


27 important actors from different sectors to sign on to a shared strategy for solving a specific social problem, a collective impact can harness the energies of collaboration between stakeholders and interested outside parties (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . Further, as Kania and Kramer explain in their exploration of this collective framework, “collective impact initiatives involve a cent ralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants” (Kania & Kramer, 2011, p. 38) . Any large scale social change has inherent connections with multi sector players . F ood justice is not limited to agricultural players, just as it is not bound by educational or religious institutions, governments, social groups, business owne rs, NGOs, or activism groups. These are the players from which a cohesive team is created to implement change. As with interwoven justice movements, the value of the cause is strengthened with partnerships and weakened in isolated intervention e fforts from a single player. Like a truly sustainable closed loop food system using ingredients from the local land, a collective impact must be created with elements provided by the community being served. These ingredients make up a blend of shared ideas and concerns unique to the community. The recipe for success might evolve through a collective impact methodology, but the “ingredients” will change based on what is locally offered. It is imperative, therefore, for advocates to be taught cultural specificities of the people they are serving and to pair a strategic plan that is emblematic of the community’s agenda. Five Conditions. The collective impact method may be used as an accessible guide that brings multiple stak eholders and support personnel together, working for a common goal, and collectively providing the highest and best impact for the community (Born, 2017) . The five conditions for shared success (Fig. 4, Kania & Kramer, 2011 ) co mprise a comprehensive strategic framework for a sustained outcome that reflects the values of the stakeholders being served. These features are essential to success because they build upon one another to structure the massive


28 undertaking that is rooted in obtaining a collective impact. Each of these elements is described below. Building a Common Agenda. Once the multiple stakeholders and outside players are mutually acknowled ged, embarking on a large scale effort requires these cross sector actors to be willing to work with one another. If participants are unable to focus on shared objectives or find themselves disagreeing on which problems need to be addressed , there is little chance for successful implementation. Reaching a common agenda also implies that there is open communication and transparency in the organizational framework for the project and that next steps will be in cohesion with the overall shared agenda. The comm on agenda acts as a road map for working with community partners and promotes a common rationale for the overarching commitment of unique players and their dedication to a collective impact (Born, 2017) . Figure 2 : Conditions for Shared Success


29 Shared Measurement Syst ems. In l ine with the previous feature, the creation of an agreed method for measuring and reporting the numerous variables, inputs, drivers, and other data imperative to the project allows consistency and alignment in the representation of project impleme ntation efforts and results (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . If all players use the same measurement systems, cross sector accountability and support is more attainable, while wide scale project evaluation can be reviewed and disseminat ed by all involved. Applying the same evaluation criteria allows for participants from any sector to flag erroneous data, suggest better collecting methods, and thus increase report credibility (2011) . If successfully e mployed, a shared measurement and evaluation method will solidify a model of efficiency otherwise difficult to achieve among many actors. Mutually Reinforced Activities. The power of collective action is rooted in the ability for every participant in any sector to undertake a role that plays to the unique capabilities of that actor in a coordinated strategy that strengthens the overarching mission of the project. By allowing each project partner to mutually reinforce goals and objectives through specific a ctions, these combined specialty activities become interdependent efforts that support and coordinate with each other (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . If these efforts remain in harmony with the common agenda, largescale project imple mentation is achievable even when complex actions with multiple stakeholders and organizations are required. Continuous Communication. An integral component of any successful project, clear and consistent communication among participants will ultimately d ecide implementation success or failure. This part of the collective impact process need not start with the project. C ommunication should begin between stakeholders, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies well before any project strategy is underway. Good communication among all participants promotes trust and transparency and allows every voice to be heard and developed through conversations and relationship building. Similar to a shared measurement system, a common vocabulary is


30 encouraged to h elp shape the conversations around shared values and concerns (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . In a diverse set of players, each group will carry a specific lexicon, cultural syntax, or jargon that might be unknown by other participants . When all players are educated in communal language, there is an important breaking of barriers that builds access and greater collaboration between participants who traditionally may not mix professionally or personally. Backbone Support Organizations. I n the prior conditions, it has been shown how important a comprehensively shared vision among cross sector players and community partnerships is to the success of a collective impact initiative. Agreeing to a common agenda with clear communication and a wi llingness to use personal and professional res ources to strengthen the impact all of this is made possible by the specialized organization of partnerships. Organizations that take on this steering of collective forces are imperative to inter organization al management and are often considered the backbone of a project, transforming fragile partnerships and fractured relationships into a stronger, more efficient model of management (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . By playing the main org anizational and management role over the entire lifecycle of a project, the backbone organization will guide the overall vision and strategy, provide support for collaborati ve activities, establish a best practice framework for the shared measurement guidelines, help activate funding streams, assemble networks for advancing policy based on collective goals, and build a broad base of public support (Turner, Merchant, Kania, & Martin, 2012) . With the many complexities in cross sec tor partnerships and large scale initiatives or interventions, backbone leadership must incapsulate a skillset that facilitates the interwoven activities of all players. The support from backbone organizations provide s both shorter and longer term implemen tation efforts that guide the project for the complete project cycle (Fig. 6, Turner, Merchant, Kania, & Martin, 2012 ).


31 Figure 3 : Backbone Organization Activities Even with a constructive framework that builds off mutual support and open co mmunication, one must not underestimate the myriad of challenges and obstacles when working and depending on so many moving parts. There is an innate lacking in trust among stakeholders who have never collaborated, with struggles in approving shared metric s as well as the threats of backbone organizations or other supporting entities overstepping their place in creating objectives and solutions to community issues (Kania & Kramer, 2011) . Connecting Best Practice Frameworks for F ood Justice Initiatives By incorporating collaborative strategies of the collective impact methodology and structuring community led empowerment and resource cultivation with principles of advocacy, food justice practitioners help provide a holistic and dy namic platform for resource support, collaborative implementation efforts, and sustained management opportunities in sustainable


32 community food system development. Community advocates who take into consideration these collective impact methods and fine tun e their support to the unique context of the community’s needs and desires, will find themselves guiding initiatives without bias, within a cross sector ed , multi faceted collective of supporters and stakeholders. As in broader social justice work, food jus tice advocates and practitioners may gain the trust of those they serve when there is full accountability, transparency, and open communication between all parties. In the case studies explored in the following chapter, community advocacy planners tacklin g food access issues have found success from the use of advocacy principles and collective impact approaches. By incorporating professional advocacy and encouraging stakeholder participation in all phases of a project, food justice programs and initiatives with professional practitioners at the table are obtaining successful outcomes for combating food injustices in urban low income communities of color. Yet as evident in the statistical data provided earlier in this report, the inequities regarding food se curity and intersectional social justice concerns of disenfranchised minority communities are still pervasive. It is therefore imperative to deeply examine projects and initiatives implementing collective impact approac hes and advocacy principles , to note the aspects of success and failure, to assess strengths and weaknesses, and therefore hopefully begin to close gaps that contribute to inequitable access to sustainable, affordable food. If the food justice movement is to grow stronger and cultivate commun ity empowerment and selfreliance, practitioners will need to view their work through a critical lens, rise in objection to those practices that proliferate injustice, and lend support those who are working to further social justice objectives in sustainab le community food systems.


33 CHAPTER IV CASE STUDIES Case Study 1: Growing Power—Mil waukee, Wisconsin In the arena of food justice activism, Will Allen is a local, regional, and national champion of sustainable community food systems. The son of southern sharecroppers, Allen knows well his cultural and familial roots and in the early 1990s, after ending a pro basketball career, he decided to find a way to cultivate those roots with sustainable farming. Working on his wife’s family farm near Milwaukee, Wis consin, Allen began selling his produce on a roadside stand before purchasing a rundown, two acre plot in foreclosure located on the last agriculturally zoned urban plot in the city —four miles from the nearest grocery store and four blocks from Milwaukee’s largest public housing project (Allen & Wilson, 2013) (Satterfield, 2018) . There he founded Growing Power, a community organization with a mission to develop sustainable community urban agriculture methods that are economically feasible for residents to have access to sustainable food, all through the year (Efird, 2014) . Recognizing the needs of the low income residents of color that largely comprised the public housing project a few blocks away, Allen’s vision to sustainably transform community food systems integrated social justice concerns where there were high rates of poverty among community residents, contributing to food insecurity, unemployment, health epidemics, low educational attainment, and other intersectional socioeconomic issues (Allen & Wilson, 2013) . With values rooted in food justice principles and Allen’s personal connection to an African American agrarian past, Growing Pow er became a national model for a community led food system founded on intersectional justice principles prioritizing the socio economic concer ns of low income communities of color (Kaufman, 2016) . A decade into Growing Power’s inception, the organization’s storied successes were being recognized on national and international platforms. For


34 his work with Growing Power, Allen received the prestigious and substantial philanthropic funding, including the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, a Ford Foundation leadership grant, and a W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant; Allen was named Food Revolutionary of Rodale 100, and was one of Time Magazine’s most influential people in the world in 2010 (Efird, 2014) . Commu nities all over the country have adopted elements of h is community food systems model . V isitors from around the world attend Growing Power training sessions to learn how to implement similar models (Satterfield, 2018) . By 2009, the growing operation was reaching more than 10,000 people through farmers’ markets, schools, restaurants, CSA boxes, and even through an online platform (Satterfield, 2018) . In 2014, the organization had 15 Regional Outreach Training Centers, employed 200 staff, and supported over 70 urban agriculture initiatives (Efird, 2014) . The largescale impact of Growing Power was further acclaimed in Allen’s 2012 autobiography, The Good Food Revolution, Gro wing Healthy Food, People, and Communities . Arguably, the food justice movement, as well as the urban agriculture movement has progressed in awareness and impact because of Will Allen. However, by November 2017, Growing Power no longer existed; bankrupt an d facing legal issues, the board of directors dissolved, and the organization closed its doors (Satterfield, 2018) . Forming a comprehensive evaluation of Growing Power’s well known success and ultimate failure is no easy task . Uncovering the elements that contributed to the organization’s closure provide s some evidence of practitioner gaps and missteps that put Growing Power $500,000 in debt and eventually into bankruptcy court (Satterfield, 2018) . Yet the legacy of Allen and Grow ing Power is not one of failure . M any outcomes of the organization’s 15 year run have catalytically changed Milwaukee’s food system frameworks. Nick DeMarsh, director of Groundwork Milwaukee, an organization modeled from Gr owing Power, credits the current heath of Milwaukee’s urban farming sector to the community food systems model championed by Allen (Satterfield, 2018) . The story of Growing Power’s rise and fall may provide important insight in to how community food


35 systems are being integrated within low income communities of color and what strategies may help food justice initiatives achieve long term success. It is evident that Will Allen incorporated a va riety of advocacy principles and coll ective action methods throughout Growing Power’s organizational framework. From the outset, Allen took on the role of facilitator, with an intentional focus on Milwaukee’s disenfranchised low income residents who were struggling with food insecurity. Indee d, Growing Power’s intrinsic focus on sustainable community food access is rooted in the advocate’s principle of the person centered approach . S ocio cultural understanding of the community being served was gained through the community’s ability to bring at tention to their needs, while Allen facilitated how their concerns could be addressed within Growing Power’s mission directives. The organization created social programs that emulated community interests and further integrated the advocate’s principle of e mpowerment with training programs and outreach opportunities to cultivate healthy and sustainable values among residents. Intersectional concerns were addressed with programs that taught children how to read, write, and can vegetables (Satterfield, 2018) . The equal opportunity principle was brazenly present in Allen’s impassioned desire to combat racial inequities faced by the community. As a black man, Allen’s first hand understanding of prejudice was shared among the residents o f color . T rust was gained through shared experience and further provided a trustworthy vision the community could rally behind. By employing the clarity of purpose principle, the Growing Power’s mission for “growing food, people, and communities” was eva luated and accepted by the community he wanted to serve (Allen & Wilson, 2013) . Growing Power’s mission incorporated the desires of the surrounding community and depended on community participation and feedback to further direc t objectives. The incorporation of community objectives was prioritized by Allen and formed into a common agenda for addressing food security concerns. Growing Power was never intended to be a


36 charity or fresh food bank . I t was c reated to address the spec ific needs of the surrounding community through a collaborative effort that required community participation to succeed. A common agenda for collective impact was branded into the heart of Growing Power because community participants kept it beating . B y 2012 , most of Growing Power’s 200 staff and countless volunteers were from the nearby housing project (Allen & Wilson, 2013) . Allen wanted to expand people’s perceptions about what was possible in disenfranchised communities of color. Growing Power envisioned a future of community food security and youth empowerment and spent 15 years figuring out how succeed in fostering a collective vision that could be safeguarded for future generations. Millions of philanthropic dollars were spent to grow that vision and many organizations have come forth from that vision. Thousands of individuals in vulnerable circumstances have found support and empowerment while tens of thousands were given access to fresh, nutritious food. This is why Grow ing Power is still seen by both critics and supporter as a success, even after the organization’s closing. Yet it did close, and no longer serving the community, the organization’s mission of cultivating food, people, and communities is no longer in action . Growing Power’s demise did not stem from a lack of community participation or any absence of community centered values. The organization had international acclaim, and with that heightened awareness came investors, benefactors, and other resource support . This organization was championed first by the Clinton administration, and th en by Michelle and Barack Obama . I t grew from one greenhouse to over a hundred and incorporated hydroponics and aquaponics in a closed loop system that set precedents for similar operations all over the country (Satterfield, 2018) . Across America , Growing Power educational programs were implemented through leadership programs, job training for high risk youth, internships, and hands on workshops (Satterfield, 2018) . Allen became the poster child of the urban agriculture movement while Growing Power became emblematic of what was possible in


37 communities suffering from intersectional social injustices. And this may be where the first organizational mistakes began. As Allen’s fame grew, Growing Power increased operations. Beginning with l ess than a dozen st aff members, that number grew to over 200. F ood was coming from 100 greenhouses and several kitchens and training gardens. L i vestock including turkeys, goats, chickens, and even beehives was also packed, distributed, and promoted by Growing Power (Satterfield, 2018) . Funding also increased to keep up with operational costs, and that financial securit y was not always provided by donors or investors with ties to sustainability or even social justice . W hen Allen began accepting money from corporations with track records of unsustainable and unethical practices, like a $1 million grant from the Walmart Fo undation, critics of Growing Power ’ s funding stream increased (Satterfield, 2018) . By 2014, Growing Power’s financial organization was becoming chaotic, as annual tax filings and budget reports revealed substantial deficits, wh ile for profit offshoots of the organization were being sued for mismanagement of funds (Satterfield, 2018) . Operational management was also a contributing factor in Growing Power’s de s cent. As Allen became a powerful internat ional figure, he became more involved in activities outside of Growing Power’s operations. Yet some members of the organization’s board of directors noted how Allen was slow to give up any operational control in lieu of his increased absence and day to day operations began lacking in accountability, support, and communication (Satterfield, 2018) . As these three integral advocacy characteristics dissolved, the downward spiral of Growing Power started. For many with close ties to the organization, a lack of a collaborative support network also accelerated the closure. Growing Power did not fulfill a collective impact because Allen was missing valuable cross sector support that the core values of collective impact initiatives require to obtain a shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, and backbone support. The organization


38 shared a common agenda with resident stakeholders but without the collaborative support from other organizations, agencies, and institutions to focus and acceler ate Growing Power’s directives. I nternal organizational failure was imminent. Shared measurements and continuous communication are needed to build trust an d to assure mutual objectives remain aligned and practices are held accountable. However, without a collaborative support network that extends outside of the organization and community members, collective impact conditions falter. Growing Power is a significant example of an organization that grew too fast with too little c ollaborative support. Even with all its successes, without a collective network of support, Growing Power’s intense grow th came to a rapid halt . The organization ’ s growing pains failed to find the needed accountability and support. Case Study 2: The People’s Grocery—West Oakland, California P eople’s Grocery is a self proclaimed food justice organization in West Oakland, CA that incorporates urban agriculture, youth empowerment programs, neighborhood food markets, mobile fo od delivery outreach, and a number of other sustainable community food system resources into their mission to bring food justice to West Oakland (Suutari, 2006) . Founded in 2001, that mission was to “bring healthy food to low i ncome neighborhoods in west Oakland, cultivate local self sufficiency in food and economics, bring farming and entrepreneurial skills to youth, and raise awareness about sustainability, health and food justice” (Suutari, 2006) . In a city where 70% of the 32,000 residents live below the poverty line, intersectional social concerns include high rates of food insecurity, with 25% of the population dependent on emergency food programs (Suutari, 2006) . C o founders Malaika Edwards and Leander Sellers both recognized how urban food cultivation, a spectrum of educational and service related resource support, and prioritizing community empowerment can contribute the creation of sustainable community food syst ems


39 while tackling food insecurity with intersectional social justice values. In 2001, West Oakland was a comprised of large urban concentrations of disenfranchised neighborhoods of color that were all experiencing food insecurity, along with housing insecurity, cyclical poverty, low educational attainment, low employment levels, and other social justice concerns (Kato, Passidomo, & Harvey, 2013) (Suutari, 2006) . Stemming from historical oppression a nd neglect, many of these communities have a deep distrust surrounding government agencies and economic development initiatives. In the case of the People’s Grocery, a food justice organization structured by anti oppression ideologies, food justice activis m was mobilized through a foundational premise that all agri food systems are inequitable and require radical transformation (Sbicca, 2012) . The social justice directive of the People’s Grocery is an ideological ly backed anti oppression vision for framing the racial and economic inequalities characteristic of West Oakland’s history, entrenched in radical political struggles (Sbicca, 2012) . The segregated settlements of communities of color in West O akland and whites communities in East Oakland was a product of a century long economic development framework that further removed the disenfranchised West Oakland communities from resources and infrastructure, while East Oakland grew quickly with public an d private investment into middle and upper class neighborhoods (Sbicca, 2012) . The relationship between East and West Oakland was marked with racial tensions throughout the twentieth century, climaxing in political upheaval duri ng the civil rights era of the 1960’s (Sbicca, 2012) . The black community mobilized, and activists began developing strategies to stand up to white supremacist government policies. During this time the Black Panther Party for Se lf Defense in Oakland was formed; much more than Figure 2 : People's Grocery Logo


40 providing protection from white supremacists, the Black Panther Party provided basic community needs and developed social programs, their first being the Free Breakfast for Children Program (Sbicca, 2012) . With this program, the food justice movement in West Oakland was underway. The People’s Grocery mission of racial empowerment is denoted by a logo with three kids of color — Latino, Asian, and black — holding produce and garden tools in hand, with one of the children raising a clenched fist suggestive of black power solidarity (Fig. 4, Oakland Wiki, 2012) . The poverty level in West Oakland is correlated with high levels of food insecurity; as of 2012, one small grocery store provided the whole community of West Oakland with fresh produce and healthy food, while 53 liquor/corner stores, and 13 fast food restaurants blotched the same landscape (Sbicca, 2012) . The quality of food available in West Oakland was poor, with high fat and sugar products, canned or highly processed foods with chemicals additives, and wilting produce (Sbicca, 2012) . Death rates from heart disease and cancer are disproportionately higher in West Oakland comp ared to the rest of the city, with diabetes rates triple that of the rest of Alameda County (Sbicca, 2012) . All this data points to unjust racial and economic conditions that are blatant in the ir destructive effect s in communiti es of color and revealing of racist political structures still in play. Sbicca explains it is within this “interconnected social, political, and economic context” that the People’s Grocery formed to mobilize food justice activism (Sbicca, 2012, p. 459) . The People’s Grocery is an example of a food justice organization working hard to identify new structures and principles that fully support the intersectional mission of racial injustice and food insecurity while incorporat ing the community’ s evolving concerns and resource needs. Because of this, People’s Grocery has seen a variety of success as well as organizational and operational evolutions since they began in 2001. The organization developed a Mobile Market program, bri nging fresh food to the doors of 3,500 West Oakland residents in the first year alone, all while building their reputation as a crucially needed community organization (McMillan, 2007) .


41 The organization, renamed Community Foods in 2016, oversees community gardens and programing for nutritional education and leadership development (Sbicca, 2012) . A new neighborhood food store is slated to open in 2018, with additional community amenities under the same roof, including a health resource center and a community hub (Community Foods, 2018) . In many of their initiatives, they have incorporated advocacy principles to strengthen their impact. Working with a community advisory coun cil composed of West Oakland residents, the organization is prioritizing advocacy principles of accountability, clarity of purpose, and independent oversight (Community Foods, 2018) . People’s Grocery created the first agricultu re ally program, further implementing advocacy principles of support and equal opportunity by requiring intersectional social justice training for allies of varying cultural backgrounds and privileges interested in finding solutions to the injustices of ag ri food systems (Sbicca, 2012) . A staff member noted the importance of prioritizing racial issues when she explained that fighting racial inequity is the cornerstone of the organization’s mission. The C ritical R ace T heory relate d training opportunities also serve as a more significant tactic used by the organization; intersectional, cross cultural support needs to be gained and all classes of society mobilized if the food justice movement is to successfully dismantle oppression s o deeply ingrained in our nation (Sbicca, 2012) . The leadership and organization of People’s Grocery and the intersectional justice contexts in play have also been some of the greatest internal challenges faced by People’s Grocery members and the surrounding communities. Organizing leadership and member participation around anti oppression ideologies and mobilizing activists around food justice has been bold and resolute, drawing some critics who have varying ideologies or expect ations (Sbicca, 2012) . However, People’s Grocery’s use of a common agenda for collective impact reveals the importance of a mutually shared framing that food justice is “grounded in principles that take seriously the historical causes of inequality” (Sbicca, 2012, p. 461) . It is this framing that gives structure to the


42 food justice movement and extends the importance of historical and cultural context needed to fight food injustice. Sbicca’s an alysis of the People’s Grocery directives provide evidence of a common racially contextual ideology; yet there are expressed concerns over the embodiment of that ideology in the residents who actually live in West Oakland. As People’s Grocery gains momentu m in the food justice movement , there are questions over how much understanding and solidarity is between the People’s Grocery organization and the nearby residents. Few People’s Grocery staff members actually live in West Oakland, and some have come under community scrutiny regarding their claim to represent the West Oakland community, a claim that many community members believe is warranted only if they have similar lived experiences (Sbicca, 2012) . However most Oakland activists who work in food justice have not experienced the level of food insecurity that they are fighting against; the majority of social and economic capital for creating social justice non profits rarely comes from inside poverty lines (Sbicca, 2012) . There are notable challenges for growing the food justice movement through non profits like People’s Grocery using radical viewpoints to structure their vision and strategies. First is the challenge of clearly providing a common ideo logical understanding between the intersectionality of the organization’s work and social justice concerns from the community. Even in the instance of the People’s Grocer y anti oppression agenda, there are still pitfalls if solidarity in these mission stated values are not shared throughout the community. Second is the lack of resources to found food justice organizations among the communities in need of food security; because outside support and resources are often needed, effectively and accurately repres enting community interests become harder the further removed food justice organizations are from the people they are meant to serve. Third is the degree to which non profits address short term needs without providing support or


43 mobilizing change for the st ructural inequalities that remain embedded in policy and procedures affecting the community (Sbicca, 2012) . By challenging every oppressive framework that currently supports the industrialized agri food system, food justice orga nizations mobilize activists in civil society, the economy, and the entire political system (Sbicca, 2012) . There should be strong solidarity among stakeholders and the food justice organizations fighting for the community, enc ouraging transparent directives and open communication that builds trust between local residents and those supporting them. Food justice organizations must prioritize providing spaces and resources for community members to create their own solutions that a ccurately represent the concerns and interests of the community (Sbicca, 2012) . Integrating complex ideologies based on such vast and layered oppression is no easy task. There will continue to be growing pains in the evolution o f the food justice movement, but the fundamental mission to which the People’s Grocery and other strong food justice organizations are dedicated is helping create a foundational approach to combatting food insecurity while building empowerment and opportun ity in marginalized communities. Community advocates, planning practitioners and organizations working in food justice must incorporate these intersectional justice ideologies to challenge and dismantle all inequities in our food systems. Because the alt ernative food movement engages in initiatives that enhance sustainable food production through mobilizing primarily white middle and upper class participants, reform of agrifood systems has primarily been directed at environmental justice initiatives and the dismantling of unsustainable industrial methods of production, rather than addressing social injustices within food systems (Sbicca, 2012, p. 455) . This case study highlights People’s Grocery’s determined efforts to i ncorporate intersectional social justice values to mobilize food justice initiatives within populations faced with racial and cultural barriers of access to sustainable food options.


44 CHAPTER V Conclusions and Recommendations Reclaiming Food Security The global agri food system is notably unsustainable, with corporate interests directed by market forces that rely on heavy chemical and nonrenewable inputs and disregard traditional and sustainable farming practices in favor of commodified and industrialized agriculture (Adams, 2003) . By taking vital lessons from our nation’s history, alternative food systems are growing in number and strength, providing opportunities to take back food sovereignty the country lost to industrialized agriculture’s hollow and broken promises. Reclaiming a biodiverse landscape through organic farming methods, new sustainable food system models are showing much promise in beginning the restoration of our soils and our relationship to the land that yields life. With core networks of farmer’s markets, CSAs, local food producers, and slow food organizers, the alternative food movement is gaining momentum and influence. Yet even with the advancement of new sustainable food systems, the neo liberal market fram ework still threatens equitable access to food with further barriers of entry for potential alternative food producers and to consumers who cannot afford the product. For the alternative food movement to sustainably transform conventional industrial agricu lture, it must also take up the fight for community food sovereignty and equitable access to sustainable food systems. Food justice activists recognize the intersectional space that food insecurity has played in our nation’s history. Oppressed populations have had to access food through structured racism and classist economic policies. Over 17% of this country’s inhabitants (54 million individuals) live in an official USDA food desert (USDA, 2017) , signifying food security chall enges that move beyond access to neo liberal supermarket conglomerates and into the propagation of cheap and plentiful


45 fast food, void of nutrients and processed with chemicals to trick our bodies into consuming more of it. This “food” is what millions of Americans depend on for survival while cultural oppression and systematic racism continues to proliferate obstacles to healthy and affordable food access. Through the use of advocacy principles and collective impact methods, food justice organizations and community food systems advocates have an opportunity to apply intersectional justice principles for guiding community food system initiatives among populations facing food insecurity. With examples of methodologies that address empowerment principles for d isenfranchised populations, the product of this thesis research provides equitable and just alternatives to the top down methods used by conventional planning practitioners. The food justice movement criticizes racial and economic inequalities in alternat ive food system models and promotes food justice activism to refocus food security objectives in historically disenfranchised communities (Sbicca, 2012) . Because the movement directs attention to intersectional social injustices, activists frame food justice initiatives in a broader social justice perspective. This framing creates broad reaching support from other social justice movements but is also threatened by discord among activists and practitioners who may have ideological differences when opening food justice to the discourse of broader social justice narratives. Using food justice initiatives, organizations like Growing Power and People’s grocery are bringing attention to the inequities found in low income communities of color. By addressing institutionalized racism and structured oppression and challenging leaders and residents to commit to changing imbedded inequities and create new opportunities for increasing community health and food access. Successful food justice in itiatives prioritize equality, community led cultural awareness, collective decision making, and empowerment. Furthering equitable representation and access in planning and implementation processes, the integration of the collective impact methodology


46 prom otes collective decision making for all sectors involved in a project. Practitioners guiding food justice initiatives have the responsibility of prioritizing the community’s best interest by including all stakeholders in every stage of a project. Integrati ng principles of advocacy with collective impact strategies, a collaborative framework finds support and accountability needed to implement long term directives. With a common agenda agreed on by multiple sectors involved in a project, community stakeholde rs, planning practitioners, community advocates, social justice groups, government agencies, non government organizations, local business owners, and educational and religious institutions all have a role to play in furthering the food justice movement. Bu ilding a common agenda requires collectively adopting a shared vocabulary and measurement system to ensure continuous and transparent communication throughout the project’s lifecycle. Each of these actors provide specialized resources and support to streng then a shared mission. By guiding a shared vision, practitioners help build trust among disenfranchised community stakeholders who have historically been left out of the planning process, catalyzing the cultivation of empowerment and higher levels of parti cipation for community members. Transitioning out of Structured Racism Food insecurity is most prevalent in communities of historically oppressed cultural groups. Communities of color have the highest rates of food injustice and should be prioritized by food justice practitioners (American Psychological Association, 2017) . These food insecure communities are under represented in alternative food system opportunities, with most alternative food production methods having socioecon omic barriers to entry. Sustainable food systems are often designed with racist and classist constructs interwoven into the larger neoliberal free market framework. Critical Race Theory reveals the intersectional social injustices embedded in structured ra cism within food access mechanisms. Critical Race Theory argues that highlighting only obvious and brazen signs of racial injustices will prevent more subtle and complex racist frameworks from


47 being transformed. As we saw with the People’s Grocery in West Oakland, by using intersectional justice principles, advocates and practitioners can address historic and deeply imbedded social injustices together with community involvement and begin dismantling institutionalized racism prevalent in all of our nation’s food systems. The time for community led initiatives is upon us. History has given a plethora of examples in which government agencies and professional practitioners have failed to implement their versions of progress for the wellbeing of the disenfranchi sed. Reframing the practitioner’s role into learning and listening, rather than teaching and explaining, the professional becomes the student, observing the needs and desires of the community from the people who will ultimately bear greatest the consequenc es of change. This requires a reversal of conventional practitioner led knowledge and resource distribution; precedents must be reset, and conventional practices unlearned. Shifting into community led food justice initiatives is an exciting prospect for practitioners who wish to further social justice actions through sustainable community food systems. It prompts a new standard for facilitating community needs. It requires the cultivation of relationships and trust. It implores the professional to shed pr e conceptions, prejudices, and any notions of charity. It gives practitioners the opportunity to play a part in healing deep social wounds and observe emboldened pride and dedication of community members as they take justice in their own hands. When the pr actitioner’s guidance and support role is complete, success is found not in the formalities of plans or the achievements of implementation. Nor is it found in the capabilities of partnerships or fine tuned resource distribution. A practitioner’s success co mes with the triumph of oppressed communities finding their voice and actively breaking barriers to strengthen and protect their own cultural and social values. It is shown through the empowerment of current and


48 future generations, and perhaps by the best indication, in the moment where the community informs the practitioner that their services are no longer desired. The Future of Food Justice Food justice initiatives will find long term successes if they engage and involve a network of collaborators and f ollow principles of advocacy. Gaps in success are found where elements of a collective impact are not incorporated; lacking a common agenda, shared metrics, communication, and cross sector resource support increases the likelihood of organizational failure . If organizations fail to employ advocacy principles, stakeholders being considered by a food justice initiative will not have a role, and initiative will not obtain a collective impact. The food justice movement will continue to grow and evolve, like other social justice movements have evolved. Research of food justice organizations and other players involved in solving food inequities is increasing in number and fervor, and social justice implications within our food system are becoming more discernable and being challenged by a rising generational consciousness and furthered with a progressive network of crosssector and cross cultural support. By building social and economic justice within any community, we are redirecting solutions away from convention al practices through the lens of intersectional justice. When intricacies of critical interweaving elements of injustice are ignored or fail to be addressed, it is impossible to achieve any long term change. When injustices are confronted and dismantled th e victory lies in the holistic health and wellbeing of all communities.


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53 APPENDICES Major drivers and changes in food and agriculture in the United States from 1800s to 1960, Gardner, 2002 .


54 Major drivers and changes in food and agriculture in the United States from 1960 to presen t, Gardner, 2002 .


55 Trends in major indicators of food supply, expenditures, and nutrition in the United States, 1900 present, CDC/NCHS, 2014; C NPP, 2014; ERS, 2013a.


56 Flow of food in the U.S. food system. NOTE: Approximations based on 2009 data from (accessed April 2, 2015). SOURCE: Adapted from Kinsey, 2013, p. 22. Reprinted with permission from Spri nger.


57 Four Firm Concentration Index (CR4): Percentage of total processed volume controlled by top four firms, 1990 and 2007 SOURCE: Data from Hendrickson and Heffernan, 2007. Top 4, 8, and 20 firms' share of U.S. grocery store sales, 199 2 2013. SOURCE: ERS, 2014f


VITA Matthias Eli Helfen Candidate for the Degree of Master of Science Thesis: CULTIVATING COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: SOCIAL JUSTICE DIRECTIVES FOR FOOD SECURITY AND COLLECTIVE EMPOWERMENT Major Field: Urban and Regional Plan ning Biographical: Education: Completed the requirements for the Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning at University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado in May 201 8 Completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Planning and Urban Studies at University of New Orleans, New Orleans , Louisiana in 2014 . Experience: Professional Memberships: American Planning Association