What is Food Justice? Leaders in Marginalized Communities Explain How They Expand Food Access

Food justice is one of the most under-discussed topics in the US today, but it’s an important one. Food justice (or food sovereignty) has been defined as the right of people to grow, harvest, process, sell, and eat food produced in ways that sustain communities and the environment. The term covers a range of issues related to the availability and sustainability of food in communities where they may not have access to healthy, nutritious food.

One Person’s Fork

When it comes to food justice, one person’s fork can make a big difference. That’s why leaders in marginalized communities are working to expand food access and create equitable food systems.

 One of these leaders is Patti Jackson, an Atlanta resident and entrepreneur who created Grow It! Gardens, a program that empowers people with limited resources to grow their own food and become part of a supportive community. Food justice doesn’t just mean access to healthy foods, it means access to foods at all, she says. It means getting rid of policies that criminalize homelessness and poor nutrition and communities that have been systematically pushed out of cities because development gets pushed into their neighborhoods. It means building relationships between non-profits, schools, parents and youth that don’t exist anywhere else but here.

Another person creating equitable food systems is Yotam Sissasat, founder of Tovlanim in Israel.

Grocery Store Redesign

Have you ever been to a grocery store and felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices? Or found yourself stuck in a long line with no obvious way to escape? If so, you’re not alone. The average grocery store today is designed for efficiency and profit, not customer experience. But what if we redesign grocery stores with food justice in mind?

 Some grocery stores are already finding ways to make shopping more accessible and equitable. Some are partnering with their neighbors and building relationships with local growers, while others have begun hosting food-focused events like cooking demonstrations and tastings. Redesigning grocery stores isn’t just about making them look pretty—it’s about making sure that people who need fresh food can get it, even if they can’t afford to go every day. Check out some inspiring examples below!

Urban Agriculture

In an effort to create food sovereignty and better access to healthy foods, many marginalized communities have turned to urban agriculture. This type of agriculture focuses on growing food in cities, often on rooftops or vacant lots. One of the benefits of urban agriculture is that it can provide a space for people to come together and build community. Another benefit is that it can help offset the cost of food by providing fresh produce at a lower price than what you would find at the grocery store. If you are interested in getting involved in urban agriculture, there are a few things you can do. First, research community gardens or farms in your area. Next, reach out to the organizers of these projects and see if there are any volunteer opportunities available.

Creating Community Gardens

One way to increase food access in marginalized communities is by creating community gardens. Gardens provide a space for people to grow their own food, which can help offset the cost of groceries. Plus, community gardens can be a great way to build relationships and create a sense of community. Here are a few tips for creating a successful community garden

 Start small. To get started, you’ll need to contact your local government and tell them what you want to do. Your community garden can’t be larger than 20,000 square feet (1 acre), and you may need to apply for a zoning variance or conditional use permit. You’ll also want to secure funding and figure out how to maintain your garden once it’s up and running. These are good things to know before launch so that you don’t run into any unnecessary roadblocks as you’re trying to get off the ground.

Feeding the Homeless

One example of food justice is providing meals to the homeless. This can be done through volunteering at a soup kitchen or food pantry, or by donating money or food to these organizations. Another way to help is to advocate for policies that would increase funding for food assistance programs. You can also support businesses that employ and train people who are struggling to find work. By working together, we can make sure everyone has enough to eat.

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