The Center for Food, Faith & Justice believes that health and a just food system can change the world. Similarly, advocacy by and for impoverished communities and individuals must be equal partners in confronting the barriers of hunger, homelessness, poverty and racial justice. Healthy produce provides a foundation that unites people and sustains stronger communities. Building a successful social enterprise dedicated to realizing these beliefs is not pie in the sky, but rather the nutritional requirement to sustain democracy in a civil society.
The Center for Food, Faith & Justice is building a network of congregations, integrated urban gardens, community food justice programs, economic development, hunger and homeless programs and food-related job training programs which began in 2014. The partnership includes McGee Avenue Food Program, The Berkeley Food Institute, The Berkeley Food Network, Green the Church, Strong Roots Community Gardens and the EcoVillage Farm Center. Community Residents were interested in starting community gardens while the congregation had an interest in job-training for both homeless adults as well as high-risk youth while divinity school students showed interest in organizing and food security. The Center for Food, Faith and Justice blossomed from the synergy between these ideas.
Among the major projects of the Center for Food, Faith & Justice, the Soil to the Soul Gardens is methodically building the capacity to grow healthy, affordable organic produce to feed the under-served community of South Berkeley and beyond. In the fall of 2015. The Center for Food, Faith and Justice began our Seeds of Hope Program for k-12 students. In the Summer of 2016, we began the Soil to the Soul Garden and Culinary Academy as pre-employment training program for youth adults ages 18-25. The Center for Food, Faith & Justice incorporates various aspects of environmental justice including racism and anti-oppression, food security, poverty education, health disparities, urban gardening, civic engagement and leadership skills to train, inspire and challenge youth to become active, competent and confident images of positive change in which they live.
Ultimately, the Center for Food, Faith & Justice recognizes the need to holistically approach the challenges which often plague our communities. As such, the Center uses several strategies including engaging students in culinary arts to teach the importance of food justice, nutrition and chronic disease. Participants will not have the opportunity to learn about growing healthy food, but they will engage in healthy food preparation while exploring career opportunities in horticulture and culinary arts. In support of these efforts we have been a part of several major funding initiatives including a partnership with Healthy Black Families the Berkeley Soda Tax, the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Grant and the Heart2Heart Neighborhood Initiative along with other public and private funding sources.
General Impact Goals and Objectives Related to CFFJ Programs
Increased Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction Education and Outreach to 250
African American youth, adults and seniors in Berkeley.
Increased Knowledge of Environmental Justice, Urban Gardening and Food Justice for 50 Youth
Increased knowledge of Violence Prevention and Leadership Development for 60 children and youth.
Training of 50 Socially Disadvantaged Adults in employability skills related to Agroecology, food pathways and culinary arts.