Currently, UC Berkeley is experiencing an unprecedented surge of interest in food and agriculture, as is reflected by its academics and educational programming, student-led initiatives, and community outreach activities. And yet as passion for food and equity seems to be thriving across campus, many community members still encounter obstacles to meaningfully diverse, equitable, and inclusive experiences. In fact, a 2014 Campus Climate Survey revealed that 1 out of 4 members of the UC Berkeley community experience exclusion based on some aspect of their identity.
Within campus food initiatives, staff, faculty, and students tend not to reflect the diversity of the broader UC Berkeley community, nor of the communities most affected by food system injustices. Simultaneously, food insecurity among UC Berkeley students is disturbingly high, as students face the reality of having to choose between paying for food, housing, and other basic needs while attending school in one of the most expensive areas of the country.
The growing “food movement” on campus thus presents a strategic opportunity to address the need to transform campus climate, and to fully integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into Berkeley’s programs, capacity building, and campaigns. Since 2015, the Building Equitable and Inclusive Food Systems at UC Berkeley project has brought together active collaborators from across campus to help bridge the gaps between food and justice.
One theme that emerged from our multiple workshops and open meetings, during the 2015-16 academic year, was the fact that so many people involved with food on campus simply do not know of each other’s efforts and expertise. We decided then to create a map to help all of us better visualize and understand all the moving parts and relationships.
This democratically-produced, dynamic UC Berkeley Food System Map aims to both reveal barriers to the full participation of historically marginalized community members in food-related learning and practice, and highlight opportunities for, and successes in, overcoming such obstacles.
We hope this always-in-progress map will guide policy decisions on all levels of campus, and significantly contribute toward more just and pleasurable food experiences – whether in teaching, researching, learning, growing, or eating – for the entire UC Berkeley community, honoring all of our beautiful differences.