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Announcing the 2023 National Right to Food Mini Grants Cohort!

By Mia Cohen, intern with the National Right to Food Community of Practice and sophomore at Hamilton College studying Environmental Studies and Biology


The National Right to Food Community of Practice (NRtF CoP) recently awarded nine organizations mini grants to support projects across the United States that are helping to advance the Right to Food. Nine organizations from 8 different states and the District of Columbia make up the 2023 Right to Food Mini Grants cohort and were each recipients of a $5,000 award for the projects they proposed. 


The purpose of the Right to Food Mini Grants program is to support community-led efforts to address hunger, food insecurity, and the erosion of food sovereignty through a rights-based framework in a localized context. All of the communities share a vision where everyone has access to nutritious food and arable land, an equitable opportunity to consume nutritious food, and the ability to create meals from food produced using sustainable methods. Not only are the Right to Food Mini Grants assisting grassroot organizations with their transformative efforts, but now, through the Community of Practice, mini grant awardees are also able to connect with other like-minded organizations across the country that are generating similar projects. 


Below is a brief description of each of the nine grantees and their current projects. The projects employ a variety of strategies including advocacy, coalition building, urban farming, narrative change, civic engagement, and root cause work. Stay tuned to NRtF’s news page for in depth interviews with each of the mini grant awardees. 


The California Food and Farming Network (CFFN) protects the Right to Food through fighting for significant state funding being allocated towards Regional Food Ecosystems, while centering racial equity for all changes that they advocate for. CFFN decisions are approved by six grassroots leaders to ensure that issues related to worker rights, production methods, environmental justice, public health and food access within their communities are being addressed. CFFN currently has a working group designing a State Regional Food Ecosystem Roadmap, which will create an illustration and plan to eventually help California realize the Right to Food. 


Florida Food Policy Council (FLFPC) has created a Food is Medicine movement with their partners including Urban Health Partnerships, Florida Policy Institute, Florida Rural Legal Services, Florida Health and Nutrition Coalition, Florida Impact, Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, University of South Florida, the Farmworkers Association of Florida, the League of Women Voters, and Dr. Robert Fulmore. Florida Food Policy Council has held Food is Medicine community town hall meetings with grassroots leaders and FLFPC partners, and they plan on hosting Right to Food town hall meetings and political advocacy trainings with community members and FLFPC partners. The Policy Council also continues to promote education as one of their core values through programs such as Food Forums and Policy Snapshots. 


Growing Hope has been working towards establishing food sovereignty in Ypsilanti, MI for 20 years. Growing Hope has four program areas: Farm & Gardens (urban farming), Youth & Schools (programs for K-12th graders, including the Teen Leadership Training Program),  Farmer’s Markets (Growing Hope owns multiple farmer’s markets in the Ypsilanti area), and  Food Entrepreneurship (offering business support services to people involved in Ypsilanti food systems). 

 

Iowa Food System Coalition is progressing the Right to Food movement in Iowa by building coalitions in support of Healthy School Meals for All, local food procurement in schools and at food banks, and advocating for living wages, specifically for people in the meat-packing industry, but also other food chain workers. The Iowa Food System Coalition recently held a Local Food Policy Summit, advocacy training sessions, and a town hall with state legislators that led to developments related to funding for grocery stores in underserved communities and the Double up Food Bucks program.   


The Syracuse Committee is organizing a People’s Tribunal as a part of the 2024 National Right to Food Summit taking place June 4-5 in Syracuse, NY. Members of the local organizing committee include Trinity Benton, a graduate student in Food Studies at Syracuse University; Antonisha Owens, owner of Afica Farm Fabulous; Charles Madlock, founder of Golden Carat Farms Inc.; Alexandra Brooks, a Food Studies student at Syracuse University; and Anne Bellows, a Food Studies professor at Syracuse University. 


The Ag and Food Lab is a stand alone project, but created in connection to the East Denver Food Hub. The Ag and Food Lab strives to empower community members across Colorado by helping to build a new food system that centers marginalized groups rather than corporate interests. This new food system would prioritize regenerative agriculture, racial justice and food sovereignty.  


Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA) is committed to supporting the Right to Food for Black women and girls through the seven articles of WANDA’S Food Bill of Rights. Some of the topics of WANDA’S Food Bill of Rights include sustainability, access to culturally appropriate foods, limiting detrimental food narratives, and dignity. WANDA is currently working on a campaign to inform the Washington, D.C. area about the Food Bill of Rights that contains projects such as listening sessions, community engagement workshops, and creating a children’s book. 


Based in Bellingham, WA, the Whatcom Food Network is the nonprofit civic engagement partner that helped create the 2018 ordinance calling for the creation of the county's Food System Committee (FSC), a de facto food policy council. The FSC and the Whatcom Food Network worked together to create the community-centered 10-year Food System Plan. Adopted by the County in 2023, the Plan is organized by five broad goals: 1) equity and justice; 2) conservation and regeneration of natural resources; 3) creating a resilient local food economy; 4) ensuring access to healthy food for all; 5) adapting the food system to a changing climate.


Witnesses to Hunger  is an organization of individuals who have firsthand experience with food insecurity. The long-term goals of Witnesses to Hunger are to motivate the New Haven, CT community to create Right to Food solutions together through education, story sharing and addressing the root causes of food insecurity.



Witnesses to Hunger is currently working to include monolingual Spanish speakers, as well as monolingual female Pushto and Dari speakers in the organization. One method being used to include these groups is organization members handing out informative flyers. Organization members are also planning on hosting dinners to discuss what Witnesses to Hunger does, as well as how these groups can get involved.  

   



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