Alongside our community, the Food Council witnessed with outrage and grief the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the most recent manifestations of systemic racial inequities in our country which have created deep disparities throughout our food, economic, and public health systems.
In our own County, in this moment, we see how the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting economic crisis have disproportionately affected communities of color. The neighborhoods most negatively impacted by the virus are the same communities with the highest levels of food insecurity before the pandemic. The risk of hunger is rapidly increasing for our County’s residents, with our County’s dedicated food assistance providers reporting a 3-5x increase in demand for their critical services. 45% of our County’s small businesses are minority owned, including dozens of our County’s own farms, restaurants, retailers, and food and beverage entrepreneurs, and nationally, Black-owned businesses are experiencing COVID-19 related closures and job loss at a far steeper rate than white-owned businesses.
Last night, our Council Members and Board Members convened to reaffirm our commitment to our primary priority of building equity in a food system that has, since its very beginning, established and reinforced structural racism and social injustice. Advocacy and initiatives to foster a robust, sustainable, and equitable local food system must start with dismantling racist systems in our society. We rededicate ourselves to action that will create and strengthen pathways for those who have been marginalized by our food system to direct the policies and programs that will rebuild this broken system. We will convene discussions that prioritize the expertise and leadership of people of color in facilitating systems change. There is significant work ahead for our organization, including the finalization and implementation of our racial equity action plan and, recognizing our many privileges, recommitting ourselves as an ally to Black colleagues, neighbors, organizational partners, residents, family and friends, and standing in solidarity with those who denounce the oppression of white supremacy culture. We encourage feedback and open dialogue about how the Food Council can improve in our equity work.
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