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The Response

Sep 29, 2020

Unhoused populations are struggling to find enough to eat. Farmers are faced with both surplus produce and lower incomes as they are left without places to sell. Individuals have a renewed desire to plant gardens as they grapple with long grocery lines and rising food prices.

In short, the pandemic is surfacing many of the systemic issues in the global food system that we’ve been mostly ignoring for a long time.

But what can we do about this at the community, town, or city levels?

One grassroots organization in the San Francisco Bay Area is attempting to answer that question.

Today, we’re bringing you the audio from a live roundtable discussion we co-hosted with NorCal Resilience Network last week as part of the launch of “Produce for the People.”

The new initiative will activate NorCal’s existing coalition of organizations and Resilience Hubs to address critical food security needs in a way that can be replicated on a larger scale in communities all over the world.

Featured Speakers:

Keneda Gibson: artist, community organizer with the East Oakland Neighborhood Initiative, and recipient of a Resilience Hub grant to develop a garden rooted in community at her house

Wanda Stewart: Executive Director of Common Vision and garden educator at Hoover Elementary School

AshEL Seasunz Eldridge: co-founder of Essential Food and Medicine (EFAM) which reclaims surplus and locally grown produce to make juice, soups, smoothies, and natural medicines that directly serve the most vulnerable people in their communities for free.

Moderated by Ayano K. Jeffers-Fabro: independent consultant for community food initiatives (most recently acting as project manager for incubating a community-led grocery cooperative in East Oakland).

Our panelists dove into many difficult topics and questions including:

  • The history of racial inequities within the food industry and how this intersection between food justice and racial justice could evolve moving forward
  • How communities have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • What an equitable hyper-local food web could look like in the future (based on the building blocks that currently exist), including resilience hubs as centers for food growing and distribution
  • And how to “squash the beef” by physically working through conflict together while digging into common ground.  

A full transcript of this episode is available at

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