Food Justice Coalition
Creating food security through free nutrient-dense meals and food sovereignty education + advocacy.
Food Justice Coalition works to increase food security for all Utahns by providing direct relief in the form of nutrient-dense ready to eat meals, engaging in advocacy, and educating the community about healthy eating. Nearly 300,000 Utahns lack reliable access to nutritious food. Meanwhile, 600,000 tons of food are wasted every year in Utah. We are a volunteer-operated collective working to build equitable, resilient food systems and food sovereignty for all. Our coalition consists of students, farmers, restaurants, non-profits, local businesses, community leaders, academic institutions, and individual community members. Our work focuses on direct relief, education, advocacy and long-term solutions to address the root cause of food insecurity. Together, we have served over 39,000 meals over the last two years to Utahns experiencing hunger with 487 volunteers and 33 partners.
We engage key leaders and stakeholders in government and the general community on issues related to food access and injustice. Justice in food means making healthy food available for everyone regardless of income, skin color, or zip code. Food justice also means supporting people with the tools and resources they need to access healthy food and make the food choices that are best for them and their families—this is food sovereignty.
In order to build equitable and resilient food systems, we must first acknowledge the disparities in food access across racial lines. Beginning with the systemic removal of Native people from their ancestral lands and food ways were major contributing factors to significant health disparities which have persisted for 500 years among native communities. American Indians experience 3x the rate of diabetes and heart disease compared to white Americans.
Equally as important is the acknowledgement of the immense contributions to agriculture made by people of color to the United States. At its inception, the country’s wealth was built on the agricultural labor of enslaved Black individuals. Currently, the U.S. food system is upheld by the labor of Latinos, Latino immigrants, and other farm workers of color who produce the majority of the food we eat.
Thirty eight percent of the U.S. population is made up of people of color, but only 7% of farmers are people of color. In order to capacity build, we must ensure people of color have access and opportunity to enter and thrive in agriculture. For the past two years, the Food Justice Coalition has worked with a diverse group of food producers to serve marginalized populations. As we move forward, we are committed to supporting more POC and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.
Direct relief and outreach
Over the past two years, we have provided fresh, nutrient-dense, plant-based meals to people experiencing food insecurity by working with local farmers and restaurants to take surplus and donated food and turn it into beautiful meals. Our amazing volunteers distribute the meals directly to folks experiencing homelessness and to families facing food insecurity.
Additionally, Our free lunch program helps support our community with fresh, healthy, prepared meals with options for weekly pick up of prepped meals. This program aims to support housed individuals most impacted by food insecurity, but is open to all. Most participants are students, families, and low-income Individuals. Meals are offered at zero cost to the recipient.
Food Education + Community Enrichment
This program supports initiatives that educate our community about healthy eating, cooking skills, and sustainable food practices to reduce food waste in the home. Collaborating with local schools, community centers, and organizations we organize workshops, cooking classes and awareness campaigns to empower others with knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices. We aim to provide participants with culturally responsive experiential learning initiatives that provide them with an opportunity to discover new foods, learn about agriculture and food science, while making the connection between nutritious food and social-emotional wellbeing. We also have engaged with Black Physician’s of Utah and the City of Salt Lake to offer plant based educational classes for the public across the summer and fall.
”Ending hunger is within our grasp. Investments in education and infrastructure are integral for organizations doing critical work on the ground. A physical kitchen space dedicated to our work will allow us to bring in more volunteers, host educational workshops, offer job training, host our food education program on site, and grow our impact exponentially.”
-Jeanette Padilla, President & CEO