Building Community Assets, Pride, and Power

Back in 2008, I accepted the definition for food justice as “everyone having access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full dignity.”  Beyond food justice, the term food sovereignty also resonates with me because it speaks to self-determination and control over our food and food producing processes. 

Ashante M Reese, the author of Black Food Geographies, states that food institutions are implicated in the disinvestment within Black neighborhoods. As we move to a more just food system, food geographies provide an understanding of Black ways of living and are inseparable from how Black residents navigate food inequities.

Project New Village (PNV) which operates in food apartheid neighborhoods in San Diego,  is creating an Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD) project in Southeastern San Diego. An EFOD is a development strategy that uses food and agriculture to create economic opportunities, healthy neighborhoods, and explicitly seeks to build community assets, pride, and power by and with historically marginalized communities. 

2021 marks the beginning of a new decade, perhaps a new opportunity to rethink and reimagine a better food system. Leah Penniman asserts that “Racism is built into the DNA of the United States’ food system. The work to end racism in the food system is inexorably connected to efforts to dismantle racism in the economic, educational, criminal justice, health and democratic institutions in this country.” 

As a partner of the San Diego Food System Alliance, PNV is working side-by side with others to achieve the mission of cultivating a healthy, sustainable, and just food system in San Diego County.  

It is our belief that we must foster collective agency amongst all stakeholders to make impactful changes to the current food system. We must intentionally over do that which has been under done. Karen Washington, Founder of Black Urban Growers, states that she started the organization because “No one talks about our issues, and when they do talk about our issues it’s from a white voice. Why does the respected [one] always have to be a white voice?”

Communities of color have continuous threads of cooperative activity and development over the past two centuries, because of need and strategy. These co-ops have served as tools of resistance to racial and economic exploitation. The time is right for change, together we can take pride in shaping the future food system in San Diego. So, let’s do this!

N. Dian Moss is the Managing Director of Project New Village, and long time social justice advocate for the community of Southeastern San Diego. Dian's leadership and deep commitment to food justice continutes to transform neighborhoods and build food soverignty amongst Southeastern residents.

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