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Food Systems that Serve the Community

Food Systems that Serve the Community

When it comes to increasing access to healthy food in underserved communities by creating viable, local food systems, involving local residents is crucial.  Yes, building a grocery store in a community that lacks one is a good first step.  But chances are that grocery store will be owned by a large corporation, and money spent there will not be returned to the community.  Nor is a corporate grocery store likely to prioritize hiring local residents.

For a local food system to truly benefit its community, it must be operated largely by local residents who care about the economic health of their community, as well.  A just food system not only provides groceries to underserved communities – it also bypasses the exploitative, corporate food system.

People’s Grocery, a food justice non-profit in Oakland, CA, works to address this issue.  The organizations sponsors a program called the Growing Justice Institute, which trains local residents who are passionate about food justice to become leaders in the community and promote access to fresh, healthy food in West Oakland.

Growing Justice Institute participants build catering businesses, restaurants, community resource centers, and much more.  People’s Grocery helps them locate sources of funding and connects them to organizations and individuals who have the resources they need to make their dreams a reality.

“[People’s Grocery] helped me write a grant – they helped me learn another language.  It helped me with speaking skills and presenting myself,” said Community Liaison Shalina Allen.  Shalina plans to open a catering business that prepares healthy dishes acceptable for those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  She also plans to incorporate nutrition education into her business model.

GJI Participants, called Community Liaisons, meet regularly to exchange ideas about community organizing, economic opportunities, food justice and racial justice.  By working with West Oakland residents to build a network of food justice activists, the Growing Justice Institute strives to promote local food systems reform that is community driven.  We believe that our food system should be determined by the needs and desires of the community, not by external forces.


Read more: Career, Community, Community Service, Diet & Nutrition, Do Good, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health, Life, Make a Difference

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


+ add your own
1:17AM PDT on Sep 23, 2012

Great! It's good to see California taking a major role in changing the world's view.

6:54PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012


10:27PM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

I remember as a child a lot of fathers had their own vegie plot and supplied a lot of the vegies to the family that way. Today smaller plots of land, higher prices for land and busier lives or more time travelling to and from the office has stopped a lot of this. However it looks like its coming back with community gardens etc. The home vegies were organic and so much better for us because we knew what was in them. My Father in law in his nineties still grows some of his vegies. Maybe that is how he reached his nineties!

5:42AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Thanks for the article.

3:55PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012


5:02AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Thanks for sharing

5:34PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012


11:55AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012


11:07AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012


10:48AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

I hope to see this happening throughout the country.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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