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Food & Justice Events

  • Food and Climate Justice Events

  • April 10, 2024
    Collaborative Innovation for Food Justice in Silicon Valley

    This panel brought together the Veggielution team  Emily Schwing, Antonio Amore Rojas, Claudia Damiani and Fernando Fernandez Leiva with Christopher Bacon of the Initiative’s Food and Climate Program, which is the primary research and education partner for this project. The presenters reflected on how this partnership can create a more diverse, equitable, and resilient regional food economy in the South Bay area and to bring awareness of the Santa Clara County Food System Work Plan. The project aims to incubate a new food worker-owned cooperative in East San Jose, CA. To help, partners will engage in an 8-month training program with Democracy at Work Institute, conduct a feasibility study and policy analysis with small-scale food entrepreneurs, and organize an Urban Agroecology Shortcourse.  Presenters introduced Veggielution’s 6.5-acre community farm, shared the Mayfair neighborhood’s rich immigrant history, and analyzed a timeline of food justice responses to COVID-19 in the South Bay. Reflection and questions from the audience included the untold history of cooperation in a capitalist context, how Santa Clara County addresses farmland access, and what a more just economy looks like.  Consistent with the theme, a mother and son from an East San Jose Latinx-owned enterprise, CHIKEN’S TAMALES, served amazing vegetarian tamales to the 80+ participants who joined us. 

    Watch the event recording

    Review the presentation slides

    Veggielution’s introduction to food systems

  • February 21, 2024
    Food Justice and Student Basic Needs on the Santa Clara Campus

    The Initiative’s Chris Bacon and student researchers Paulina Ursua Garcia, Kimberly Wood, and Wanyu Xiang from SCU’s “Food Justice on Campus” project presented at the California Higher Education Basic Needs Alliance Summit in Sacramento. They shared a synthesis of action research and the growing university-wide response to address student basic needs as a human right at SCU. This inter-segmental gathering brought together over 1200 students, staff, faculty, policymakers, and community members to share creative, inclusive, and diverse strategies to meet student basic needs as a pathway to student success.

    See the presentation slides

  • February 9, 2024
    Developing a Food Justice Curriculum for Sacred Heart Pantry Clients

    An SCU research team presented preliminary research results to Sacred Heart Community Services food pantry staff, based on surveys and interviews that identified key themes for education materials and campaigns for pantry volunteers and clients. The feedback received during this workshop will be incorporated into a food justice curriculum and a replicable resource guide designed by the team, which other pantries and service organizations may consult to establish a food justice approach to food waste reduction. The SHCS Food Pantry serves 25,000 members each year. This workshop was co-organized by the Initiative’s Christopher Bacon and student researchers Isabelle Solórzano, Paulina Ursua Garcia, and Wanyu Xiang in coordination with Sacred Heart Essential Services Director Sofia Rocha. Paulina and Chris co-facilitated the workshop.

    See the presentation slides

    Photo: Paulina Ursua Garcia

  • November 7, 2023
    Closing Equity Gaps: Addressing Student Basic Needs at SCU

    The Initiative’s Christopher Bacon and student researchers Katie Duffy, Paulina Ursua Garcia, and Mary Xiang presented and facilitated a community conversation on student basic needs at SCU’s inaugural First-Generation, Limited-Income Student Conference (FLI). The team shared research findings showing that first-generation students are significantly more likely to be food insecure, an overwhelming majority are from low-income households, and international students are more likely to be food insecure. The researchers recommended more data sharing and study of the status of first-generation, limited-income, graduate, and international students; greater collaboration across departments at SCU to refer students to available resources; and increased visibility of resources for students in need. More information about SCU student basic needs research can be found on the team’s blog. The conference was hosted and organized by the LEAD Scholars program and sponsored by the Office of the President, the Inclusive Excellence Division, SCU Admissions, the Division of Student Life, the Ignatian Center, and the Department of Sociology.

  • October 11, 2023
    South Bay Food Justice Collaborative Mini Retreat

    The Initiative's Food and Climate Justice Program and SCU’s Forge Garden, a Center for Sustainability program, co-hosted a South Bay Food Justice Collaborative (SBFJC) Mini Retreat. SBFJC is a community of practice consisting of more than 30 South Bay organizations working on food justice, farming, and public health that has been sharing resources, developing collaborative projects, and organizing training and field visits since March 2020. The hunger that accompanied COVID-19 accelerated this work. At a session during the Initiative's 2023 Climate Justice Conference, the SBFJC learned from FAACTS, a similar coalition in San Francisco that emerged to stop more than $30 million in cuts to community food security budgets. SBFJC is now working to develop a mission, vision, and values statement, and to establish priority actions for the coming years.  Several action ideas are starting to converge on securing a tangible human right to culturally preferred food for everyone in the South Bay and beyond, policies to increase farm and garden access, farm and knowledge exchange activities among participants, and expanding collaborative projects. This event was co-facilitated with the University of California’s Cooperative Extension and Fresh Approach.  Participants included community-based food justice groups such as La Mesa VerdeTailor St. Farms, and Veggielution, as well as the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department and others. The facilitators’ team is working on the second Mini Retreat to complete this phase of the collective planning.

    Photo: Sara Wheeler

  • August 28-29, 2023
    Advancing Food Justice by Reducing Waste and Producing Worm Composting

    Sacred Heart’s Essential Services and La Mesa Verde (LMV) programs are partnering with the Initiative’s Food and Climate Justice Program to advance food justice in the South Bay. The team recently led a workshop with LMV gardeners, food pantry staff, and volunteers to launch a composting pilot project. They invited Michele Young, a Master Composter with UC Extension and senior manager at the County of Santa Clara to offer technical training as part of a six-hour workshop that included building the pilot facility and hands-on worm composting. SHCS’ Food Pantry serves 25,000 members each year. As part of an ongoing study, SCU Researchers have found that although the pantry recovers hundreds of thousands of pounds of edible food it also disposes of about 2,700 lbs per month (2-10% of the total food received). This project aims to transform the pantry’s food waste into compost while promoting the human right to food. The workshop was co-organized by the Initiative’s Christopher Bacon, Isabelle Solórzano (student researcher), and Fernando Fernandez Levia (SHCS manager). To learn more about free workshops on vermicomposting check UC Extensions Composting Education Program.

    Photo: Peter Bacon

  • July 11, 2023
    Food Security and Agroecology Presentations at Reclaiming the Commons Conference

    Christopher M. Bacon (Environmental Studies & Sciences) and William A. Sundstrom  (Economics) presented research at the annual meeting of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS).  Their presentation discussed findings from a National Science Foundation funded community-based participatory action research with smallholders and cooperatives in Nicaragua focusing on agroecology and diversification strategies to build food security and resilience in the context of climate change and other hazards in Central America.  Antonio Amore Rojas (Environmental Studies and Management ‘23) won a travel grant from the AESS and also flew up to Portland to present a poster on the Food Justice Program’s food security and student basic needs research with students at Santa Clara University.  Additionally, Rojas and Bacon co-presented on the food justice panel. Learn more about Antonio Amore Rojas’s experience here.

  • June 27, 2023
    Stakeholder Forum: Food Security, Agroecology, Markets & Climate Resilience in Nicaragua

    In partnership with ASDENIC’s director Raul Diaz, the Initiative's Chris Bacon and Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez co-organized a symposium in Estelí Nicaragua.  The objective was to reflect on the advances, challenges, and future steps related to the practice of agroecology as a strategy to face the challenges of food security and climate change.  On behalf of our transdisciplinary research team, which includes William A. Sundstrom (SCU Economics), as well as Paola Felix (SCU ’23), Xiomara Quinonez (SCU ‘24) and members of the ASDENIC team, Bacon gave the keynote presentation sharing findings from a study assessing how smallholders are diversifying their production and adapting to climate change and other hazards. The group also advanced an important discussion about how to prepare for the likely El Niño event with associated drought and food security risks in the region. In addition to presentations and dialogue, there was an active seed and publications exchange among the 50+ participants. Participants came from across the country and included leaders from the National Farmers and Ranchers Union (UNAG), The PRODECOOP and Nueva Waslala cooperatives representing thousands of organic and fair trade coffee and cacao farmers, and other leaders in agroecology, food security, and sustainable markets, such as the Movement of Organic Agriculture in Nicaragua (MAONIC), the Network for Promoting Agroecology (GPAE), ADDAC, FUNICA as well as professors and students from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. 

  • June 23, 2023
    Reporting back to Cacao Farmers and the Nueva Waslala Cooperative in Nicaragua

    Christopher Bacon, María Eugenia Flores, and Raúl Díaz (ASDENIC) gathered with the Nueva Waslala cooperative’s board of directors and staff in the municipality of Nicargua’s tropical humid region known as the capital of cocoa. The Nueva Waslala Co-op harvests cocoa with Organic and Rainforest Alliance certifications that is sold and processed into high quality chocolates in Europe and the U.S.. The research team, which also includes William A. Sundstrom (SCU Economics), presented preliminary results from a survey of 120 cacao farmers affiliated with the Nueva Waslala, comparing outcomes with the other 339 farmers in the study. Farmers confirmed key findings showing that farmers here reported shorter periods of seasonal hunger compared to the coffee producers in the Segovias, and suggested that cocoa production systems, which are harvested every 15 days year-round, represented a steady income that increased food security. Climate conditions in Waslala are favorable to cacao production as they generally include a 10 or 12 month rainy season, but one month without rain can negatively impact production.  Farmers and co-op staff also participated in a focus group to update the local agricultural calendar for cocoa production with focus on gendered labor patterns.  The research team is grateful to Fundación Madre Tierra for hosting this event at their center in Waslala. 

  • April 13-14, 2023
    Farmer- to-Farmer Learning Exchange on Agroecology Innovation and Productive Diversification in Nicaragua

    Farmers affiliated with the COOSMPROJIN cooperative and non-affiliated families shared two days of exchange in the field and classroom in Esteli and Condega Nicaragua. The activities included farm tours, reflections on entrepreneurship and promotion of agroecology and productive diversification, protected agriculture, innovation in crops such as grapes, markets and resilience. In the classroom, farmers gave feedback on preliminary research results and planned the next steps in the framework of the study “Learning Resilience while Responding to Environmental and Economic Hazards” conducted in collaboration with small-scale farmers in Nicaragua. This event was coordinated with CII-Asdenic, COOSMPROJIN, Condega city’s major office and SCU faculty and staff including the Initiative's Christopher Bacon and Maria Eugenia Flores, as well as Bill Sundstrom (SCU Economics).

  • November 2, 2022
    From Emergency Food Assistance toward Food Justice: A Conversation with Andy Fisher

    Andy Fisher, author of Big Hunger, Executive Director of EcoFarm, and a leading force for social  and ecological justice in the anti-hunger and food movements in the U.S. shared his insights. Andy and colleagues discussed the charity-based emergency food system’s response to hunger exacerbated by COVID-19. The panel assessed the benefits and risks of the system’s rapid expansion, and persistent challenges from the system’s lack of long-term investment in community-organizing and policy change to address the root causes of hunger. This discussion also identified several positive examples of programmatic change, such as the universal school meals in California, student basic needs programs at some universities, and food bank partnerships with food justice groups, as well as longer term work to advance the human right to food and alleviate poverty.  The conversation was hosted by the South Bay Food Justice Collaborative; moderated by the Initiative’s Christopher Bacon; convened by Wei-ting Chen, Executive Director, Stanford Food for Health Equity Lab; and facilitated by Lucy Diekmann, Urban Agriculture/Food Systems Advisor, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

    >>watch the video

  • August 16 and 17, 2022
    Food Security, Dietary Diversity and Climate Resilience

    The Initiative’s Chris Bacon and Maria Eugenia Flores, community partners Misael Rivas (PRODECOOP) and Raul Diaz (ASDENIC), and local cooperatives and research assistants met with more than 60 family farmers to present and discuss their participatory action research on diversification for food security, dietary diversity and climate resilience.  This report back to community participants was based on four years of research on smallholder coffee systems in Mesoamerica. Additional collaborators included Universidad Nacional Agraria in Nicaragua, Campesinos Ecológicos de la Sierra Madre de Chiapas (CESMACH) and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and The University of Vermont.

  • April 28, 2022
    Decolonizing the Food System - Keynote Address & Roundtable Discussion

    Raj Patel, a noted expert in the world food system, delivered the keynote talk in an event on  decolonizing the food system to address intertwined problems of hunger, climate change, racism, and food sovereignty. Emily Schweng (Veggielution), Fernando Fernandez Leiva (La Mesa Verde), Paola Felix (Environmental Studies ‘22), and moderator Chris Bacon offered responses from their perspectives as activists and researchers for local food justice. The Initiative co-sponsored this event with SCU’s Center for Arts and Humanities, and the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education’s Bannan Forum.

  • January 13, 2022
    Screening of The Ants and the Grasshopper and talk with Raj Patel

    Following a screening of The Ants and the Grasshopper, Professor Chris Bacon hosted a talkback with the film’s co-director Raj Patel, an author and expert on global food systems, about female small farmers and climate change. The film follows Anita Chitaya, a small farmer and local leader in the village of Bwabwa, Malawi, as she travels from her drought-stricken village to meet farmers and politicians in the US to share the impact of climate change on her life. The film explores how power and privilege shape climate justice and food justice from Africa to America. The Initiative co-sponsored this event with the SCU Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

  • October 12, 2021
    Connecting Collective Actions for Food Justice

    The Initiative’s Chris Bacon and Lauren Ornelas of San Jose's Food Empowerment Project discussed how activists and academics engage with ethics, rights, sustainability, culture, and plant-based diets as food systems change during the climate crisis. The Food Empowerment Project presented their  many community programs from farmworker and food justice to grocery store campaigns with a special focus on vegan diets and chocolate. They mentioned how SCU campus researchers have analyzed the role of food in contributing to global warming, and the ways that social and environmental justice intermingle. They taught how to act and organize to access more culturally-relevant food offerings and environmental justice outcomes in school, community and the world.

  • April 23, 2021
    Agroecology, food justice, and food systems change at SCU

    Chris Bacon and 8 research students were featured in a research session on un/common good students’ voices on agroecology, food justice, and food systems change at SCU.

    2021 Food Justice Research Presentation

    >>watch the video

  • April 19, 2021
    New Horizons in Conservation Conference Student Research Presentation

    During Earth Week, a group of Santa Clara University students presented their research at the New Horizons in Conservation Conference organized by the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Sustainability Initiative within Yale’s School of the Environment. Under the guidance of Professor Christopher Bacon (Environmental Studies & Sciences), Chloe Gentile-Montgomery ‘21 (Environmental Science and Ethnic Studies), Julia Jenak ‘21 (Environmental Science), and Ben Grundy ‘21 (Environmental Science and Political Science) are uncovering the reality of food and housing insecurity among students at SCU. Following the conference, the student’s reported that their research was well received by the poster judges and the other researchers in the session. One of the biggest takeaways for the student research group was how important it is to collaborate and share information with community members, other researchers, and the general public in order to address issues of environmental injustice. While expressing her satisfaction with the conference, Chloe Gentile-Montgomery said that she “appreciated how marginalized voices were highlighted and how open the discussion was.” The research team hopes that their research will help inform the University on the extent of needs insecurity among students, increase awareness of and access to resources for students dealing with food insecurity, and break down the stigma around food insecurity so that all students can move towards food sovereignty.

    >>watch the video

  • April 19, 2021
    Poster on Student Food Security and Sovereignty at Santa Clara University

    Under the guidance of Christopher Bacon, three undergraduate students Chloe Gentile-Montgomery '21 (Environmental Science and Ethnic Studies), Julia Jenak '21 (Environmental Science), and Ben Grundy '21 (Environmental Science and Political Science) presented their research on student food and housing insecurity as well as efforts to build food sovereignty at SCU.

  • December 7,2020
    Poster presentation during the 4th International Conference on Global Food Security

    Assessing Diversification, Food Security, and Dietary Diversity with Organized Smallholders in Nicaragua

    Christopher Bacon and Gabriella Ballardo ‘21 (Environmental Studies and Italian Studies) presented the poster “Assessing Diversification, Food Security, and Dietary Diversity with Organized Smallholders in Nicaragua” at the Fourth International (Online) Conference on Global Food Security based in Montpellier France. Co-authors of this research include Maria Eugenia Flore Gomez, Skyler Kriese (‘20), Erica Martinez (‘20), Emma McCurry (‘21), Gabriela Hamm (‘20),  and Annalicia Anaya (‘20) as well as colleagues from the National Agricultural University and the PRODECOOP Cooperative in Nicaragua. Although increasing evidence suggests that agroecology-based farm diversification can generate multiple benefits little is known about what types of diversification work for whom and how it correlates with key livelihood outcomes. The poster summarized four years of community-based participatory action research and identified diversification as a key strategy for improving household dietary diversity with the potential to also support gender equity and climate resilience.  For those of us in California, it was a lively 6:30 a.m. conversation with participants from different parts of the world and diverse backgrounds.

    12.07.2020 Poster: Nicaragua AgroecologyFoodSecurityGlobal Conference

  • November 18,2020
    Agroecology for Food System Change : A dialogue series on land, life, and livelihood

    The Environmental Justice and the Common Good Initiative at  Santa Clara University,in collaboration with Ecojesuit Global Network  and Jesuit Conference of South Asia organized an online dialogue on ‘Using agroecology to drive food system change : Responses and collaborations to address the present economic-ecological crisis‘. 150 plus participants from USA, Latin America, India, Philippines and other parts of the world participated in the webinar on Zoom platform. The event was also live broadcasted on Youtube to reach out to the wider audience. Dr. Pedro Walpole, Coordinator – Ecojesuit Global Network, Dr. Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya International and  Dr. Chris Bacon, from SCU enriched the audience with their sharing on the concerns and issues related to poisoning of Agricultural production due to extensive use of chemical fertilizers, Food and Health Security for All, Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture and Covid-19 in a global context. Video testimonies from the Community Food System & Urban Agricultural Model in the Bay Area, California, Fresh Approach, whose mission is to improve access to healthy food in California,  La Mesa Verde,SHCS, a network of Urban Gardeners and Valley Verde  creating access to healthy and culturally appropriate food for everyone; provided the audience with examples of various initiatives emerging in the context to meaningfully engage and respond as individuals, communities and organizations. The Q&A and Round Table Dialogue sessions addressed the concerns of the audience and the broader issue and mandate in the field of Agroecology.

    Transcript of Dr. Shiva's presentation

    11.17.2020 Agroecology and Food Systems Change CB Presentation

    The testimonial videos: Valley Verde, Fresh Approach, and La Mesa Verde

    Post event article: Industrial Agriculture is Creating Poison, Not Food: Say Agroecologists

  • November 16, 2020
    Gather: A film screening and talkback with the Director of the film, Sanjay Rawal

    Gather: A film screening in honor of Native American Heritage Month, followed by a talkback with the Director of the film, Sanjay Rawal.  Gather examines Native American reclaiming their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty. This event was cohosted by OML, ODI, The Forge Garden and The Environmental Justice and Common Good Initiative.


  • September 15, 2020
    Food Justice Program Congratulates Pauline Phuong Nguyen - Nancy Keil Service Excellence Award Winner in 2020!

    The Environmental Justice and Common Good Initiative congratulates Pauline Phuong Nguyen for her award given by the College of Arts and Sciences for her service. While her primary services have been to the Ethnic Studies Department, other Departments, Initiatives and so many students have also benefited from her generosity.  In May 2020, Pauline responded to our Food Justice Program's call for help to serve Vietnamese gardeners in San Jose as part of a collective response to Covid 19, volunteering her translation services to help Valley Verde reach Vietnamese speaking communities in San Jose.  She translated multiple documents and a video, which is dedicated to building healthy and resilient communities by providing low-income families with educational programs, edible gardens, and micro-entrepreneurship opportunities that create food security and lead to self-sufficiency.


  • September 1st, 2020
    Testimony on the Food Systems and Public Comment Relating to Item 10: Food, Restaurants, Agriculture, and Health Access Initiative

    The South Bay Food Justice Collaborative's  submitted a comment to  contribute to SCC board of supervisors meeting agenda item #10 regarding the Food, Agriculture and Health Access Initiative (FAHAI) Referral and a report back that took place online on september 1st, part of this agenda packet.  Christopher Bacon worked with an intern Katherine Omalley on this policy doc, and also collaborated with colleagues from La Mesa Verde, Second Harvest Food Bank, Stanford and others with the goal to build more equity into the emergency food security response and also try to build back a more sustainable food system


  • April 23, 2020
    Real Food Challenge: A Case Study

    In this online panel organized by the tUrn Project, SCU Food System Fellows Emma McCurry and Tyler Whittaker, advised by the Initiative’s Chris Bacon and Center for Sustainability Director Lindsey Kalkbrenner, shared their findings after analyzing 11,000 lines of data to assess the sustainability of SCU’s food sourcing and discussed plans to draw down global warming emissions one meal plan at a time


  • April 23, 2020
    Transformative Leadership In Agriculture, Education & Science Research

    Iris Stewart-Frey participated in an online panel organized by the SCU tUrn Project with Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers, and Nitzan Pelman, CEO and Founder of Climb Hire, an inclusive talent development firm.


  • March 6, 2020
    Jahi Chappell - Food Justice

    Jahi Chappell, author of Beginning to End Hunger (UC Press), and recently-appointed Executive Director of Food First, presented recent research and future prospects for food systems change at scales ranging from cities to international policy fora convened by the United Nations, drawing on his study in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He also shared lessons for how university researchers can collaborate productively and respectfully with communities, which helped to inform the Initiative’s ongoing work with the emerging South Bay Food Justice Collaborative. Chappell’s talk was co-sponsored by SCU’s Center for Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Leavey School of Business.
    Image: Jahi Chappell

    >>watch the video

  • March 6, 2020
    Food Justice in the South Bay Half Day Workshop

    The EJ and Common Good Initiative's emerging food justice program collaborated with the University of California Cooperative Extension and community-based food justice groups, including Fresh Approach, La Mesa Verde, Valle Verde, and Veggielution, to organize a half-day workshop at SCU. The workshop brought together 38 South Bay organizations working on food justice, farming, and public health issues for learning, dialogue, and exploration of potential research and social change partnerships to leverage collective impact. Participants shared their work and learned from food justice leaders in the wider Bay Area.

    Photo Credit: Isabel Medina, Fresh Approach

    >> read the South Bay Food Justice Workshop Agenda
    >> read the South Bay Food Justice workshop Executive Summary


  • October 18, 2019
    Who Pays? Environmental In/Justice

    Alumnae and former research assistant Déjà Thomas (‘16) discussed environmental justice in California, including Thomas’ action-oriented research on food justice, race, and transformative climate adaptation in Southern California. Like her SCU faculty mentor Christopher Bacon, Thomas was recently awarded a Switzer Fellowship. She is completing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning, as well as a Food Studies Certificate, at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.