We Stand for Racial Equity and Justice in our School Food System and Beyond
The work of Put Local on Your Tray is to use our networks to increase the amount of and accessibility to fresh, locally grown food into school meals. We do this as part of a broader effort to make high quality meals universally available to all children in schools and early childhood centers. We understand that this goal is not possible without dismantling racism in our food, agricultural and educational systems. We cannot reasonably hope to succeed without acknowledging where we have neglected this in the past and how we commit to changing as we move forward.
The source of our country’s wealth is built upon racist agricultural systems that required chattel slavery and stolen indigenous land. Post-civil war oppressive systems were maintained by convict lease systems, sharecropping, and unjust migrant labor policy. As institutionalized racism continues to drive unequal access to resources and opportunities, as we see in the current COVID crisis, food insecurity, health care access and housing policy, food, sustainable agriculture and educational systems must change and be part of an active anti-racism framework to grow a just and equitable world.
As a program fueled by public and private resources at University of Connecticut, we have benefited from broad institutional power built on white supremacy. We must leverage our privilege and agency to challenge systemic racism as it exists in farm to school. We must be better accomplices to the communities we serve and redistribute our power, resources and agency with the BIPOC communities who also believe in a healthy, sustainable and robust farm to school programs in Connecticut and beyond.
As a white-led organization that is heavily driven by partnerships and relationships, we commit to listening and reevaluating who we work with and how to amplify the cause of BIPOC-led organizations. We need your partnership to hold us accountable and be effective. Below is Put Local on Your Tray’s commitment to Racial Equity in our work. This is a dynamic and emergent document. We get better, deeper and more proficient in this commitment with your feedback and support. This link here brings you to a feedback form where you can share your comments and suggestions.
As participants in the National Farm to School Network, we also want to share with you their statement on why we will not achieve the food justice goals of the farm to school movement if we do not speak up and act boldly for racial justice.
Commitments to Racial Equity 2020
Intentions and Actions
- Continuously examine our own role and deepen our understanding of racism as it shows up in the systems we impact (Farm to School, education systems, agriculture systems, etc).
- Develop an equity checklist for our programming,
- Utilize professional development to deepen our understanding of antiracism,
- Be transparent with our process in admitting we will make mistakes.
- Invest our staff time and resources to authentically and equitably represent the diversity of those we serve.
- Create culturally relevant materials (e.g. bilingual materials, multicultural recipes, cultural celebrations) that celebrate diversity,
- Seek global majority experiences, knowledge, leadership and input into our programming and strategies.
- Encourage and support our partners to embrace/adopt an anti-racism perspective and practice in their work.
- Notice where biases show up in our partnerships and engage in uncomfortable conversations,
- Lift up and celebrate BIPOC expertise and successes,
- Share and amplify BIPOC work through our communications (e.g. e-newsletter, website).
- Transform our network with new global majority partnerships and Native American-led organizations and communities while shifting power to engage in authentic relationships with BIPOC leadership.
- Advancing racial and social equity,
- Identify and change practices currently in use that hold back participation from BIPOC organizations,
- Shift financial resources into the hands of BIPOC organization through grant structures, procurement choices and investment.
Here are some resources we follow and are learning from.
- Racial Equity Resources assembled by Food Solutions New England. There is never a wrong time to get educated about the history and legacy of racism in our country and in our food system.
- 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge https://foodsolutionsne.org/21-day-racial-equity-habit-building-challenge/
- The Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust - a community land trust commons model for farmland preservation and a conservation land trust model to conserve and steward ecosystems with the goal of manifesting a community vision that uplifts regenerative global Indigenous, Black, and POC relationships with land, skills, and lifeways.
- Soul Fire Farm - The Uprooting Racism training is “a theory and action training for farming and food justice leaders to uproot systemic racism in our organizations and society.”
- Identifying and Countering White Supremacy Culture in Food System Work - This research centered on the question: How does white supremacy culture play out in the food insecurity and food access space in the United States? Included is a link to a 15-minute podcast of 8 Ways White Bias can Misdirect food system work.