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Center for a Livable Future Awarded Grant to Support Efforts Advancing Racial Equity in the Food System

Initiative aims to provide food policy councils with training and a learning community to confront systemic injustice

Apr 19, 2021

With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s (CLF) Food Policy Networks (FPN) project is launching an initiative to build the capacity of food policy councils (FPCs) to confront systemic racism in the food system. The initiative is the first national effort geared towards empowering FPCs to advance racial equity and economic justice in their councils and in their policy work.

Communities of color, people living in poverty, Indigenous peoples, rural communities, (im)migrants, and youth have historically been underrepresented in policymaking processes shaping the US food system. FPCs can play an important role in setting the agenda for local food policy change, but many FPCs do not have memberships that reflect the racial, economic, gender, and ethnic diversity of the communities they serve. A goal of this FPN initiative is to help equip FPCs with the tools they need to ensure that FPC priorities and programs are driven by community members most affected by food systems failures.

“FPCs can serve as a vehicle for those most impacted by food system inequities to participate in decision-making and lead food policy change in their communities,” said Anne Palmer, director of CLF’s Food Communities and Public Health program. “We hope to learn from the councils that are already successfully doing this work and develop resources that any council could apply to advance equity in their internal structure, policy priorities, and programming efforts.”

Through the initiative, participants will gain and share knowledge about developing more equitable, inclusive, and values-based approaches to food policy transformation. The initiative will leverage the expertise of several partners including the Center for Ideas, Equity & Transformative Change, the Interaction Institute for Social Change, ChangeLab Solutions, and civic engagement expert Kip Holley. Some of the activities planned by the FPN and their partners include an immersive online learning experience, a webinar series, expert consultations, and an FPC mentorship program.

The CLF is also organizing a national forum in September 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. This event will provide a space for FPC members to meet in-person, share experiences, explore methods for power-sharing, practice advanced communication and advocacy skills, and strategize about policy solutions.

“Equity work has always been critical to improving the food system. Despite this, opportunities to fund equity work and subsequent activities remain limited,” said Martin Bloem, MD, PhD, director of the CLF and the Robert S. Lawrence Professor of Environmental Health at the Bloomberg School. “We applaud the Kellogg Foundation for their recognition of the value of racial equity work and their clear commitment to supporting and advancing this vital work within the food system.”

This project initiative is funded by the W.K Kellogg Foundation (Award # P0132842).