Growing resilience and equity: Food systems amidst the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racismEstimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $1,000
Letter of Intent:
The proposed project utilizes the biannual UW Food Systems Seminar (NUTR 400/500) to support student learning and dialogue about food systems amidst the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, which together amplify the need for health and food equity. This seminar will showcase researchers and organizers working at the confluence of these pandemics for positive and impactful change. Sessions will highlight challenges as well as potential for resilience and equity to root across the food system. Funding from the CSF Intersectional Sustainability Grant would support honoraria for community leaders with expertise often housed outside of academia. Such expertise is important, now more than ever, to better understand the lived experiences across communities and to amplify community-identified solutions. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities are disproportionately impacted by both COVID-19 and exploitation throughout the food system. This funding will help center voices from beyond the university and lift up solutions to food system-related environmental and societal problems. Additional funding is requested to support collaboration with the Food Systems Coalition (FSC), a graduate student RSO dedicated to food systems equity and leveraging academic privilege for community benefit. FSC is supporting seminar planning and facilitation of the culminating session; they played a similar role for the Autumn 2019 seminar on Food Justice. The Food Systems Seminar is a popular course on campus; over 200 undergraduate and graduate students from programs across the university have already registered for the Autumn 2020 offering. The seminar was initiated by the Nutritional Sciences Program (NSP) in 2014; last year we launched a UW NSP/Food Systems YouTube Channel to extend the learning beyond the classroom and extend access to the seminar. The seminar is increasingly a tool to center sustainability, equity, and community expertise. The seminar is part of the new and growing UW undergraduate major in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health, housed within the Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health. This major was launched in January 2019 and there are already approximately 200 students enrolled. The major’s core courses tend to focus on local to national food system issues; as such, there is a need to engage community leaders beyond academia to enhance the context and content for learning. This seminar complements academics with food system community leaders from organizations across the region and nation to speak to the particular and complex challenges of this time. These seminar invitations will extend or initiate relationships and contribute to the community-engaged scholarship crucial for the success of the Food Systems major. Goals: 1. Showcase food system academic and community leaders working for positive and impactful change amidst the ongoing pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism 2. Create a platform for key food systems stakeholder groups who are often omitted from food systems education 3. Foster valuable relationships with guest speakers for future collaboration and community-engaged scholarship 4. Provide a wide breadth of engaging and critical perspectives to support greater understanding of impacts and manifestations of both systemic racism and COVID-19 across the food system
The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism are illuminating health equity, food equity, and structural vulnerabilities across the food system. The Navajo Nation, Black Americans, and other Indigenous and communities of color, including Yakama Nation and Latinx communities, are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. This disparity is the result of the complex interplay between racial, health, environmental, and economic injustices. Social distancing is the most effective strategy to reduce COVID-19 transmission, and yet this is not always possible for those deemed to be essential workers – especially within the food system, which often has majority BIPOC workers. Look no further than the nation’s meat processors like Smithfield Foods and Cargill Foods, or closer to home here in Yakima, Washington, where farmworkers are experiencing massive spikes in infections. This knowledge has ignited a fire in the bellies of many in our UW community. That’s a good thing. A key requirement for change in any system is a public that is sufficiently outraged by “business as usual”. We should not want to go back to “normal” – to a food system that harms its producers, workers, consumers, and the environment; or a health care system plagued by racial and economic disparities. Therefore, as a culminating project, seminar participants will be invited to create a food system vision (Anderson, 2019). This powerful exercise is known to be a key component of food systems change that can help to inspire and empower participants to push forward not as individuals, but as a collective. Reference: Anderson M. The importance of vision in food system transformation. J Agric Food Syst Community Dev. 2019;9(Suppl. 1):55-60.
As we continually bear witness to the racial, economic, health, and environmental inequities present within our food system, which have been further exacerbated by COVID-19, it’s more critical than ever to ensure that our community relationships are strong and reciprocal. By cultivating motivation and celebrating resilience, this seminar series aims to uplift the voices of organizers in our local community and to enable those within the UW community to envision radical change. To honor each speaker’s time and energy, and to increase student engagement, students will be asked to submit follow-up reflections. This weekly assignment will provide students opportunities to summarize key concepts and discuss any perceptions that may have developed or changed as a result of the seminar. These reflections will also enable the instructor to evaluate student learning. Students will also be invited to reflect on the entire series upon its completion. The seminar series will culminate with a final vision project intended to encourage students to synthesize what they learned during the series, reflect on the issues they found most salient, and develop a vision for how to address any gaps presented by those issues. This exercise will also provide students the opportunity to identify resources available to them through the UW community, and identify how they can best use these resources to get involved with community efforts outside the classroom. Additionally, this final project will serve to evaluate what students found most impactful and inform potential themes for future series. End-of-term student evaluations will also be used to determine ways to improve the series, and there is room to create an evaluative process for guest lecturers as well. Maintaining strong community relationships continues to be critically important during this time of collective uprising against racial violence and the extractive relationships that pervade our society and food system. In the spirit of this, guest lecturers will be invited to provide brief feedback on their experience with the seminar and whether they would consider collaborating in the future. This feedback will inform subsequent seminar series. In the spirit of fostering and maintaining reciprocal relationships with guest lecturers and the communities they represent, the speakers will be invited to voice any needs that may be fulfilled by undergraduate volunteers or the Food Systems Coalition, a graduate RSO. This could offer non-monetary benefits to guest lecturers and connect students to efforts that benefit the local community, to potentially contribute to change within our food system. Furthermore, the seminars will be widely advertised, recorded, and shared broadly via our Youtube channel to amplify these important voices and break down institutional barriers to education.
$250; honorarium; compensation for guest speaker: 10/27: Elizabeth Torres, Research Coordinator, El Proyecto Bienestar - Co-developing Culturally Relevant Messages for Farmworker Safety and Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic $250; honorarium; compensation for guest speaker: 11/2: Speaker TBD - Why voting matters to food systems $500; honoraria; compensation for two guest speakers: 11/10: Ray Williams, Director, and Hannah Wilson, Program Manager; Yes Farm with the Black Farmers Collective – Growing a more sustainable, equitable future for communities of color: The Black Farmers’ Collective and Yes Farm. $500; honoraria; compensation for two guest speakers: 11/17: 2 Makah tribal members - Food security of the Makah Tribe; harvesting seafood before and during COVID-19 $500; honoraria; compensation for the graduate student RSO Food Systems Coalition’s involvement in class-planning and facilitation: 12/8: Food Systems Coalition – What Next? A student perspective on engaging the future of our food system
Dr. Sipos has applied for a UW Global Innovation Fund Teaching and Curriculum Award to develop an international component to the seminar. If successful, funding from this award will support inclusion of the Interdisciplinary Food Systems Teaching & Learning (IFSTAL) program through the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK.
Since 2018, the Food Systems Seminar (NUTR 400/500) explicitly incorporates texts and guest speakers focused on racial equity and Indigenous studies. For example, we incorporated the Health Sciences Common Book last year (Let’s Talk About Race by I. Oluo) and will do so again this year (How to be an Anti-Racist by I. Kendi). We prioritize featuring diverse guest speakers; in the past two years, some of our featured guest speakers are listed below, along with affiliations and titles of their talks. The complete speaker lists can be found https://nutr.uw.edu/news-events/seminar/ Honoraria for previous speakers have come from Nutritional Sciences alumni who are eager to promote and support the successful launch of the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health major. We have also previously partnered with CHanGE (Center for Health and the Global Environment) for supporting diverse speakers. Currently though, as budgets constrict, we are required to look for new potential sources of funding to support these important voices from beyond academia. NUTR 400/500 highlighted speakers from AUT 2018 - WIN 2020 (in order of presentation): Valerie Segrest, MA; Author, Scholar, Nutrition Educator (now, Regional Director, Native Food and Knowledge Systems, Native American Agriculture Fund), “Indigenous Food Systems as the Original Sustainable Food System” Rosalinda Guillen, Executive Director, Community to Community Development (C2C), “Farmworker Rights and Women in the Labor Movement” Hajime Sato, Owner and Chef, Mashiko Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, “Sustainable Seafood and Beyond” Vero Vergara, Sweet Hollow Farm, ROAR Mobile Farmstands, and WA Young Farmers Coalition; Lorna Valesca, Owner of Sariwa Farm & Velasco Arts, and Incubator Farmer with Viva Farms, “Farming in the Context of Food Justice” Carlos Marentes, Co-Coordinator, El Comité, “Decolonizing the Food System: Immigration and Loss of Food Sovereignty” Chef Edouardo Jordan, Owner & Chef of Salare, JuneBaby & Lucinda Grain Bar; James Beard Award winner 2018, Best Chef NW & Best New Restaurant, “Cooking Up Food Justice & Cultural Identities in Restaurants” Veena Prasad, Previous Director, Project Feast, Ubuntu Street Café, “Culinary Apprenticeships for Immigrants & Refugees” Maria Blancas, Outreach and Education Specialist, PNASH Center and PhD Candidate, Environmental and Forest Sciences, UW, “Labor and Climate: Climate-Related Occupational Impacts on Agricultural Workers” Libby Halpin Nelson, Senior Environmental Policy Analyst, Tulalip Tribes Treaty Rights Office and Ryan Miller, Manager, Tulalip Tribes Treaty Rights Office, with Holly Zox, Botanist (Contractor, Tulalip Tribes), and Harriet Morgan, Climate Impacts Group, UW, “Sustaining Indigenous Foods on Treaty Lands: A Co-Management Approach on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest” Finally, thank you for your consideration and for opening up this important funding opportunity!