One goal of Food Empowerment Project is to highlight the inequity of the food system in the United States, which has led to higher rates of health problems among people of color and in low-income communities, including diabetes, due to the lack of access to healthy foods. Areas lacking such access are commonly referred to as food deserts, a form of environmental racism that threatens the health of future generations. This form of injustice is complicated and has many moving parts: it involves, among other things, where and how people work, the responsibilities they have to juggle, and the importance of a living wage. And, while policy makers and communities need to work together to address inequitable food access, communities need to be the ones making the ultimate decisions.
We therefore work with community members to survey healthy food availability and conduct focus groups with local organizations in the impacted areas. We also work to inform public officials of our findings and encourage policy changes.
We started in Santa Clara County, California, where we were based from 2007 to 2011. That work culminated in our report Shining a Light on the Valley of Heart’s Delight: Taking a Look at Access to Healthy Foods in Santa Clara County’s Communities of Color and Low-Income Communities, released along with GIS maps showing districts most likely to be impacted by inequitable food distribution.
In 2014, we released our report Bringing Community Voices to the Table: Food Empowerment Project in San José Focus Groups Qualitative Data Analysis Results.
Earlier, in 2013, a community group asked Food Empowerment Project to take a look at these issues in Vallejo, California. In November 2013, we began that survey, and we released the results of our work, Vallejo: City of Opportunity Lacks Access to Healthy Food in June of 2016.
We also put on an annual Vallejo Healthy Food Fest in Vallejo. Below you can find some photos and a short video of the event. For more photos check out the Facebook album.