California’s Food Systems Changemakers

July 6, 2017

BFI seeks to identify, celebrate, and showcase experiences of new generation changemakers. By learning from and sharing their stories, we hope to ultimately advance leadership opportunities in food systems work. The main objectives of the project are to:

a) Showcase the experiences and motivations of changemakers to highlight their work and inspire others to get involved in food justice activities

b) Gather helpful information that will contribute to the development of a leadership program for emerging food systems changemakers

The project will honor people in early stages of their careers, with a focus on leaders of color, who are involved in addressing health and food disparities in California’s underserved communities.

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The mission of the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) at UC Berkeley is to empower new agriculture and food leaders with the capacity to cultivate diverse, just, resilient, and healthy food systems. Through innovative, interdisciplinary research, education, and policy initiatives, BFI aims to catalyze transformative changes in food systems to ensure that all people have access to healthy, affordable food that is produced sustainably and equitably. The Institute is about four years old, and is at an important stage of expanding programs while also deepening focus, escalating its outreach and impact.

BFI recognizes that an emerging cadre of new leaders is creating positive change through activism, journalism, business innovation, teaching, farming, and other endeavors. In the farming sector, health and nutrition field, universities, and beyond, thousands of young champions are building efforts to transform our food systems. These efforts have transpired in the face of growing environmental injustices and health disparities in food systems. Emerging changemakers represent bright lights of hope and inspiration critical to addressing the health, environmental, and socio-economic disparities in our society. Yet, many leaders confront barriers related to these same disparities, especially people of color and those coming from disadvantaged communities.

This project provides an opportunity to better understand the motivations, achievements, and challenges of emerging changemakers in this field and to highlight and share their stories. In addition to providing a platform upon which to share their stories, what we learn from this project will ultimately help BFI develop a leadership program to support changemakers’ growth and extend their impact.