In June 2012, a group of 27 technical assistance providers furthered their collective work to address racism and others systems of privilege and oppression that lead to inequities in the food system. This contemplative cohort, the Alliance for Building Capacity in Food Systems (ABC), was launched two years ago by Surdna grantee the Community Food Security Coalition. Comprised of more than 1,000 organizations across the country, the Community Food Security Coalition works to create a more just and sustainable food system through a frame of equity, inclusion, and racial justice.
ABC's experts come from a range of organizations that include Growing Power, Heifer International, Mott Center at Michigan State University, Rooted in Community, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, USDA Community Food Projects Program, and WhyHunger. The providers are examining the lack of awareness about the racialized ways that they approach their work and how this privileges white-led and-serving food projects while marginalizing communities of color. At the same time, ABC is networking and cultivating leadership among grassroots technical assistance providers from marginalized communities.
Community Food Security Coalition formed ABC to meet the needs and challenges of a growing and increasingly more diverse food system movement at three critical intersections; the expansion of community food projects; the increased need for skill and knowledge in numerous content areas; and the opportunity for organizations to affect system change. This blended strategy is designed to improve the availability of healthier foods for community members, strengthen sustainable community food systems, and address knowledge barriers of food safety plan requirements, product liability insurance requirements, marketing and business skills to provide market opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers. As ABC participants share best practices, they will also be supported to develop customized strategic plans for capacity building based on local needs, resources, and opportunities - all within a broader social justice framework.
The ABC's work is based on the power of relationships - interpersonal and professional connections - to foster collaboration and build organizational partnerships both in and outside of the food systems movement.