Just Act for Food Justice
Go on a food systems adventure to address issues of fairness and equal access.
About the Activity
In the final activity of this series, you will apply what you learned about how food is produced and consumed to address social justice related to those systems and processes. Take action toward a more sustainable and just food system by becoming more responsible consumers and involved citizens. You will gain a sense of belonging in the community by making connections with local food and agriculture systems.
Topic: Food Systems, Civic Engagement
Estimated Time: 2-4 hours
Brought to you by New York State 4-H, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
In order to complete this activity, first review the following terms:
- Food access: Access by individuals to adequate resources for getting appropriate foods for a nutritious diet given the legal, political, economic, and social arrangements of the community in which they live (Food and Agriculture Organization).
- Food security: That all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life (United Nations Committee on World Food Security).
- Food justice: The right of communities to produce, distribute, access, and eat healthy and culturally appropriate food, regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, or religion (Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy).
- Local ecosystems: A geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscapes, work together to form a bubble of life (National Geographic).
- Choose ONE food systems adventure from Become a Food Systems Influencer as your final project. Find and contact your local County Extension Office for assistance.Did you know? According to Feeding America, millions of children and families living in America face hunger and food insecurity every day. Many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs (because their incomes are above the limits). Therefore, they visit their local food banks and other food programs for extra support.
- Keep in mind that many systems can influence and be influenced by food systems. Likewise, all options in the adventure handout are relevant to food systems. The goals of your food systems adventure project are:
- To address food access by learning about how individuals obtain adequate resources for getting an appropriate and nutritious diet.
- To address food justice by focusing on the right of communities to produce, distribute, access, and eat healthy and culturally appropriate food, regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, or religion.
- To address local ecosystems by learning about ways to limit pollution of local ecosystems either through prevention tactics like starting a recycling program, or through mitigation efforts, like leading a trash cleanup.Did you know? African American, Latino, and Native American families are more likely than others to be food insecure due to systemic racial injustice.
- Write down the answers to the following questions:
- Why did I choose this activity?
- What issue does it help to solve?
- How did this affect me and my opinions about the issue of food justice?Did you know? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as “food stamps,” is the largest federal food and nutrition assistance program in the United States. SNAP recipients can use the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card (like a debit card) to buy food for the household at stores that accept EBT. Learn more about what you can and cannot buy with SNAP benefits.
- Document your project by taking notes and pictures.Did you know? In addition to SNAP, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program For Women, Infants, And Children (WIC) is designed for low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 to meet their special nutritional needs. People eligible for WIC are also eligible for SNAP.
- After you finish the project, choose a presentation style that you prefer to express how the experience has affected you (examples: photography slideshow, writing poetry, drawing, painting, or other means of expression). You may use your responses in Steps 3 and 4 in your presentation. Find and contact your local 4-H County Extension Office for help with public presentation.Did you know? “Food deserts” are areas that have limited access to affordable, nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, these areas may have more access to unhealthy foods (e.g., fast foods) that are high in sugar, salt, and fat.
- Share your presentation on social media with a hashtag: #4HFoodSystems.
Bonus questions to consider when advocating for justice in food systems
- What would a food desert look like?
- How might your final project support a more sustainable food system in your community?
- How might your presentation of the experience help make a change in the food system of your community in the future?
Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.
“Equality” and “Equity” are two important social concepts. Equality means everyone gets the same thing regardless of their needs. This can be problematic because some people do not really need it while others cannot get enough. Equity means everyone gets what they actually need in order to be successful.
Imagine there are two people, one is full and one is hungry, and there are two apples. Equality means everyone gets one apple. The full person may throw away the apple because they are too full to eat, but the hungry person is still hungry after eating one apple. In the case of equity, the full person does not get any apple while the hungry person gets two apples. Now, no apple is wasted and both people are full and satisfied.
Reaching for equity aligns with the goals of reducing food insecurity and achieving food justice. You can explore these ideas by interacting with Cooperative Extension staff, learning about the community’s needs, and coming up with ways to use your presentation from this activity to help with equitable and healthy food access.
Brought to you by:
No endorsement of these supporters' products or services is granted or implied by 4‑H. This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, AFRI - Education and Workforce Development project 2021-67037-33376.9