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Focus Area

Racial Equity

Light green abstract icon representing focus area Racial Equity

The case for racial equity in the food system

In 2014, the Center for Social Inclusion published the report “Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System” that zeroes in on the systemic racism that remains a central obstacle to a just and equitable food system. “Structural racial inequity is the way our policies and institutions interact, often invisibly, to produce barriers to opportunity,” says the report.

We define racial equity in the food system as a condition in which all people, including people of color, are owners, planners, and decision-makers in the systems that govern their lives. We believe that the development of agri-food systems is hindered by the persistence of racial inequity, which acts to the detriment of producers, consumers, workers, and the environment.

“Yet we already have a glimpse of the possibility of a just and healthy food system,” says the Center for Social Inclusion’s report. “Together, we must use a critical race lens to diagnose what is wrong with our current system, assess entry points for change, and determine ways that we can work together to build a better system for all of us.”

Racial equity within our institution

In 2020, we convened a community advisory meeting of internal and external partners to discuss how we could improve the racial equity efforts of the Berkeley Food Institute, both through our programs and internally as an organization. Acting on the recommendations of community advisory meetings and an expert consultant, we began an internal staff training program on racial equity, which included a common understanding of terms and a top-to-bottom review of our programs.

We also prioritize racial, gender, dis/ability, and sectoral diversity in our governing bodies. We are working to better incorporate racial equity into our governance framework and continuing to increase diverse representation on our Executive Committee, Advisory Council, student leadership groups, and donor circles.