What does it look like to build a just food system that ensures dignity for all and puts human rights at the top of the ingredients list?

WhyHunger is supporting our partners in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Food for Maine’s Future to implement their vision in answer to that very question. For the third summer in a row, and on the heels of a year of multiple learning exchanges, representatives from the CIW and Food for Maine’s Future got together on the Blue Hill peninsula in Maine to continue plans for developing a farmworker/small farmer-owned cooperative business in the blueberry industry. We’re honored to support this long-term solidarity and collaboration between two groups who share both the experience of extreme oppression in the food chain, and the transformative understanding of their own power to reimagine and rebuild our agricultural system.

Check out our photos, read the CIW’s post about the trip, and stay tuned for your chance to try some organic blueberry jam packed with nutrition and justice!

To learn more about previous solidarity exchanges between CIW and small farmers, check out these articles, blog posts, and video:

CIW blog post about previous years’ visits [CIW blog]

Strengthening the food chain: Farmers and workers unite, find power in numbers  [Grist article by WhyHunger]

Hitting the Road with the Farm Labor Reality Tour [WhyHunger's CONNECT blog]

Farm Labor Reality Tour: One Year On [WhyHunger's CONNECT blog]

Video about Small Farmer/CIW solidarity



racial justiceAt the WhyHunger office in New York City, we often circulate articles that spark conversation and keep us updated on the latest news in food justice. Recently, one article that was sent around titled “ Seven Ways Funders Can Support Racial Justice” got us thinking and talking about racial justice philanthropy and how and why to take chances on funding the early stages of movement building. Understanding racial justice and movement building is vital to successfully funding projects that will have the greatest positive impact. We’ve been reading articles that support this idea, and here are a few of our favorites:

1. Seven Ways Funders Can Support Racial Justice

The inspiration for this week’s What We’re Reading, this article shows foundations how they can support racial justice movements from the ground up.

2. The Case for Reparations

Told through the story of Clyde Ross, a man who escaped the violence of 1920s Mississippi only to be denied home ownership by property owners and bankers in Chicago, this article weaves a challenging image of the intentionality of segregation and racial injustice in the United States. Powerfully and persuasively written, this story details the history of race relations from redlining to slavery and back again, and names them as the events that led to the embedded structural racism in America today. The implications of history for today’s racial divisions form the backbone of the article, which ultimately calls for reparations, defined by the author as “the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences.” If you only read one thing on this list, read this stunning piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic.

3. Behind the Curtain: One Theory of Social Change

Accompanied by a dynamic animated video, this article from the Ford Foundation shares one example of what building a movement can look like behind the scenes.

4. The New Jim Crow

This book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, investigates discrimination in the United States criminal justice system.

5. Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System

This report from the Center for Social Inclusion describes how policies shape structural racism in the U.S. food system and identifies potential solutions. Land policy, the farm bill, and housing policy impact access to healthy foods. A bullet-point list on the landing page summarizes the full downloadable report.

We know this is just a selection of what is out there keeping the conversation moving. What are we missing? Please share any additions or thoughts in the comments below, and dig deeper by checking out the Food Security Learning Center topic Race and the Food System.


By Thomas Fisher, WhyHunger Communications Intern

Chef Aarón and the kids having some fun after their cooking demo. It showed them how to make healthy snacks using flat bread, salad, bean paste, and pico de gallo .

Chef Aarón and the kids having some fun after their cooking demo. It showed them how to make healthy snacks using flat bread, salad, bean paste, and pico de gallo .

“I live in Bushwick and see kids playing at the neighborhood parks,” said WhyHunger  Chef Ambassador Aarón Sánchez. “It’s so important for them to have a place to come during the summer months where they can have a good meal. Initiatives like this ensure that kids always have access to a good meal.” In a Bushwick, Brooklyn, cafeteria at the Summer Food Service Program site at IS 347, about 50 children involved in four local summer youth programs were excitedly watching a cooking demo by Chef Aarón.

Aaron Sanchez

The focus of the event- hosted by WhyHunger with USDA Food and Nutrition Services and the NYC Dept. of Education, was to show the kids that healthy meals can be delicious and teach them how to easily prepare nutritious meals at home. Chef Aarón started with a quick intro and shared his background as a NYC public school success story, telling the kids to never stop thanking the people who educate and nurture them. After the intro and some lessons on the cultural history behind the ingredients, Chef Aarón wasted no time and got right into the action giving step-by-step Pico De Gallo instructions and great tips for the kids along the way.

[read entire article…]


international solidarity

The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) rallying at the 6th National Congress last February. Photo by Alison Cohen.

About a month ago, thousands of heartbroken soccer fans left Mineirão Stadium after Brazil lost to Germany 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals. The devastating defeat followed on the heels of protests against the $11.5 billion World Cup hosting expenses, shouldered mainly by the Brazilian government and the Brazilian people, with only $1 billion donated by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). In 2013, over a million protesters marched against this spending on World Cup-related infrastructure and demanded more government spending on basic needs like improvements in health, transportation and education. The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) joined in some of these protests, fighting not only against World Cup expenditures but also the Brazilian government’s $8 billion monthly spending in the stock market. As eyewitness observer Dylan Stillwood noted before the World Cup began, “The word ‘FIFA’ is about as popular as ‘FEMA’ in New Orleans after Katrina.” With the 2016 Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro, the debate continues as the city moves forward on construction.

As the world keeps tabs on mega-event spending in Brazil, WhyHunger recognizes the importance of international solidarity and stands with MST’s fight for social justice. The Landless Workers’ Movement (in Portuguese: Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or MST) was born 30 years ago out of the growing number of landless families due to government land grabs favoring corporate interests. The seizure of land and water resources from rural families is one of the reasons people are hungry in Brazil and worldwide; 20 percent of the world’s hungry are landless food producers such as fisherfolk, farmers and pastoralists. For Brazilian citizens, the raising up of a social movement such as MST was a necessary step to end policies that concentrate these resources into few pockets.  To feed the hungry, the Brazilian government should protect the land rights of peasant families instead of serving the interests of transnational corporations like Monsanto.

[read entire article…]