NJ Food Democracy Collaborative
The NJ Food Democracy Collaborative is an initiative focused on fostering resilience and equity in the state’s food and agriculture system through collaboration and a focus on partnerships, policy, and program optimization.
The NJ FDC envisions a broad, connected, grassroots network that democratically transforms the state’s food and agriculture system to be resilient, regenerative, equitable, and anti-racist.
The NJ FDC’s approach centers on cultivating effective and impactful collaboration between the many organizations, businesses, and government agencies working in the food access and agriculture space in NJ. Anyone doing this work is considered part of the network. There is no formal membership in the NJ FDC.
The NJ FDC facilitates spaces for collaboration on identifying effective policies and optimizing existing programs to improve food system resilience and equitable food access. We galvanize collective action and attention on urgent food system issues impacting NJ communities, with a special focus on the southern coastal region, by creating spaces for folks to come together, learn from each other, and work together to affect change.
In 2020, in the early months of the Coronavirus pandemic, the first meeting of those interested in the NJ FDC took place online. Individuals from a diverse array of interests discussed issues of concern and ideas for addressing them. Four working groups were formed, with the option of additional groups being formed around topics of shared interest.
The current working groups are:
- Food System Assessment and Awareness
- Integration and Optimization
- Inclusivity and Equity
- Agricultural Production and Markets
What is a Resilient, Regenerative, and Restorative Food System?
A resilient food system has features and characteristics that function to ensure food security under all circumstances, for all people, at all times -- even during times of crisis or disruption -- and functions to restore environmental damage and address historic inequities. It is place-based and requires the engagement and participation from the grassroots. Bottom-up input and action helps to shape a food system that works for everyone and prioritizes environmental health and sustainability.
According to the USDA and the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, a resilient food system is: Aware, Diverse, Integrated, Inclusive and Equitable, Adaptive, and Self-Regulating.
What is Food Democracy?
The Food Democracy Collaborative was created as an expression of food democracy. Food democracy is both a process and a goal. It happens when community members learn together and take collective action around programmatic and policy strategies to address complex food systems issues in their own communities (Bassarab, Clark, Santo and Palmer, 2019).
In a democratic food system, people have agency over their food environment; they have access to information about programs and policies; institutions that manage programs that impact food and agriculture are transparent and accessible; people have a voice in decision-making about their food system at all levels; and they can participate in shaping it.
Community and Campus Engagement
Students are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the activities of the Food Democracy Collaborative. Internships and independent study that aligns with a student’s academic goals and interests are also possible.
The FDC welcomes collaborations with faculty across academic disciplines.
Future Projects and Initiatives
- NJ Student Food Justice Ambassadors
- Interactive Food and Farm Finder Mapping Tool
- Regional Food Policy Audit
- Workshops Series for Growers and Food System Professionals
- Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future, Food System Primer
- New Jersey Conservation Blueprint
- New Jersey Department of Agriculture, 2017 Agricultural Census, County Agriculture Profiles
- NJ’s Environmental Justice Advisory Counci
- Stockton Poll: Food Insecurity in Atlantic County
- Stockton Sustainability Farm
- The Food Trust’s NJ Strategic Plan for Fresh Food Access
Are you experiencing hunger in your home or not enough to eat? Need help with paying for food?
Find out if you are eligible for SNAP, WIC, or Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
Enrolled in SNAP and want more information about how to use your benefits to eat healthy and access Jersey Fresh foods?
- NJ SNAP-Education https://cfbnj.org/snap-ed/
- NJ Department of Agriculture, Community Farmers Markets https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/communityfarmers.html
How can individuals advance a sustainable food system?
Interested in getting involved with the Food Democracy Collaborative?
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