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Collaborative Innovation for Food Justice in Silicon Valley

  • Collaborative Innovation for Food Justice in Silicon Valley

  • The County of Santa Clara is funding the Initiative's Food and Climate Justice Program, Veggielution, and Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI), to create a more diverse, equitable, and resilient regional food economy.

    The project will support community prosperity, food justice, and food sovereignty through education and reflective action that addresses the root causes of inequities.

    The County of Santa Clara’s Food Systems Resiliency Grant Program awarded the collaborative $217,000 to support a two year project. The goals include developing a food worker-owned cooperative in East San Jose, CA, and conducting a feasibility study and policy analysis with small-scale food entrepreneurs. The study will involve organizing a set of participatory education and networking activities linking the cooperative with potential buyers, including regional hospitals and universities that are using values-based procurement policies (such as the Good Food Purchasing Program) to transform their institutional food systems. 

    SCU’s Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative is the primary research and education partner for this project.  Christopher Bacon (Principal Investigator on the project) will collaborate with students, colleagues and partners as part of the research team to: 

    1) Conduct the feasibility study using a community-based participatory action research approach; 

    2) Disseminate study results; 

    3) Co-produce an agroecology, urban agriculture and food policy summer short-course; 

    4) Provide support for a participatory monitoring and evaluation process.  

    Student research assistants will also have an active role in this project, including SCU food justice lab alumnus, Antonio Amore Rojas, who Veggielution recently hired to serve as the cooperative manager to help launch this project.  

    The project will also advance the Santa Clara County Food System Work Plan by supporting a diverse food economy, improving supply chains, and strengthening the systems and knowledge that are necessary to implement the County’s Plan. SCU’s Food and Climate Justice program also continues to be one of several leaders supporting the South Bay Food Justice Collaborative’s work to end hunger, and foster community support and empowerment, in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, which has been featured in Bay City News and San Francisco Chronicle.

    The Food and Climate Justice Program is excited for this project to build on its history of partnerships with community-based organizations in the Bay Area, such as Veggielution, Fresh Approach, Valley Verde, La Mesa Verde’s urban gardening program, and the food pantry at Sacred Heart Community Services.

    Posted: 01/31/2024