CAGJ is a founding member of US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA), which connects food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based, and food producer groups around the country to advocate for food sovereignty. CAGJ was asked to strengthen connection amongst Alliance members by creating a profile of a different organization each month. In May we will learn about Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition (FIN) whose mission is to build a just, healthy, and sustainable food system in Louisville, Kentucky.
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What led you and your organization to food sovereignty work?
The Food in Neighborhoods Community Coalition centers equity and justice as the basis of everything we do, and we believe that those closest to the pain know their situation and the needed solutions best. We are a grassroots coalition composed of food justice and health equity activists, urban agriculturalists, farmers, citizen foresters, business owners, educators, cooperative extension and city employees, among others.
FIN was around since the early 2000s but became an independent community coalition in 2012. One of our goals was to establish a community food policy council in Louisville, KY. We collaborated with the Mayor’s office for a short period of time, until disbanding the body due to attempts from local government to impose job creation priorities, rather than the food and farm justice focus desired by the council. Since these early experiences of FIN, we have continued to expand our membership and network of allies, particularly by strengthening FIN’s working groups such as the Urban Agriculture Coalition, Policy Action, and the Land Access and Protection group.
We believe that food sovereignty is about democratizing and decentralizing the decisions that shape our food system. Along with our commitment to center Black and brown people and low-income people, our commitment to be inclusive, non-hierarchical, participatory and to address the structures that harm and oppress all bring us to embrace and work toward food sovereignty.
What does food sovereignty mean to you and your organization?
We are building a more equitable and sustainable local-regional food system. Specifically, we are creating a Food Vision 2030 strategic plan for the city that will be guided into reality by a community-driven Greater Louisville Food Council. The reality of food sovereignty that we are working toward prioritizes people – ensuring everyone has affordable, culturally appropriate and healthy food, guaranteeing that food providers are valued and fairly compensated, bringing providers and consumers closer together so they can make joint decisions and thereby putting more control into the hands of local people.
The construction of food sovereignty requires a shift away from the industrial, extractive, and harmful food system that benefits powerful and distant corporations. FIN’s grassroots organizing and policy advocacy work aims to build local and democratic control, social justice, and ecological resilience. We see food sovereignty as a unifying concept for collective action toward meeting peoples’ needs, celebrating our resistance, and restoring ecosystems for the good of all.
How can the rest of USFSA support and be in solidarity with your work?
We are eager to learn from others about cooperative economics and programs that are effective and can magnify our individual, small-scale impacts. We also want to figure out best practices for rebuilding local-regional food webs that benefit those currently most neglected and hurt by the current corporate-driven food system.
What are your hopes for USFSA in the coming year(s)?
Regarding inter-organizational communication with global groups through the International Relations collective, connecting with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance could allow us to expand our horizons in terms of supporting national and global outreach strategies and informing our local work.