Addressing food insecurity and promoting just and fair inclusion in the food system
Much of the inequity we see in the broader economy can be witnessed in the food system and, by extension, in our communities. As in other parts of the country, here in the Hudson Valley great disparities exist between individuals and across neighborhoods with respect to some of the most fundamental aspects of life – among them access to food, physical well-being, and financial security. LEP’s emerging food justice work is focused on supporting and accompanying the leadership of those most impacted by these disparities, including people of color, women, and immigrants. In addition, we are engaging with partners in a collaborative effort to understand and address the social and structural issues that underlie the food system and thus represent obstacles to change.
LEP’s grantmaking provides funding for organizations working on behalf of the most vulnerable, including families who lack access to nutritious food and food chain workers. We also support programs aimed at alleviating and eradicating food insecurity in the Hudson Valley. Over the past three years, grants in this category have allowed dozens of food pantries and non-profit organizations to distribute local produce and prepared meals to people in need*. This year, our grantmaking has expanded to support programming that provides culturally relevant and supportive training in regenerative agriculture to Black and Latino growers.
We recognize that only through deep listening and thoughtful leadership can we begin to envision an equitable food system. We hope to encourage open and purposeful dialogue among those working to advance food justice in the region, including service providers, farmers, groups helping to broaden access to healthy food, and advocacy organizations. We imagine that, working together, we will begin to see evidence of a new food economy – one that is equitable and inclusive at all levels of the food industry and throughout each and every Hudson Valley community.
At the Farm Hub we have started the work of transitioning our own organizational culture and practices. We are fortunate to be able to hold staff trainings in communication, racial equity, food justice, and building a culture of inclusion as part of our approach to participatory learning and professional development. This spring, our entire team became active in the development of a multi-lingual language learning program to help strengthen communication between English and Spanish speakers on our team. Last but not at all least, we are continually proud to join other farms in contributing fresh vegetables for joint distribution efforts through non-profit organizations to local food pantries.
As we partner with non-profits and businesses that provide produce to families who need it, learn from other growers, and explore issues that inform working conditions and culture, we are beginning to see a true learning community unfold at the farm. We will continue to assess the practical implications of the organizational systems we are creating, and as we do so we will share our lessons in the spirit of encouraging others in the food system.
LEP Grantee Partners (Selected):
- The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley: Increasing the volume of local food made available to underserved populations in the Hudson Valley (read about this grant)
- The Corbin Hill Food Project: Working with upstate farmers and community groups in New York City to deliver fresh local produce where it is needed most
- Hudson River Health Care Delivering culturally sensitive, linguistically appropriate health care regardless of one’s ability to pay
- Food Policy Action Changing the national dialogue on food policy through public education
- Rural & Migrant Ministry Working to overcome prejudices and poverty by building communities that celebrate diversity, achieve true mutuality, and fight for dignity and opportunity for all
- Soul Fire Farm Institute: Committed to dismantling the oppressive structures that misguide our food system