Achieving equity (with)in Food Policy Councils : confronting structural racism and centering community
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This thesis investigated if Food Policy Councils (FPCs) are effectively democratizing and shaping a more equitable food system for all, or are they replicating the existing structural inequality embedded within the contemporary food system. Through a literature review outlining the history of structural racism in the food system, historical and contemporary efforts to dismantle it in the United States, and various frameworks to approach food systems work, I argued that implementing policy through a framework of community food security is integral in creating a just and equitable food system. After analyzing national survey data sent out to 309 FPCs in North America and conducting semi-structured interviews and participant observation with FPCs in Oakland and Baltimore, I examined how councils are committing to equity both in their own council and the surrounding food environment. Though both Baltimore and Oakland FPCs are confronted by institutional barriers in their respective equity work, each had adapted innovative ways to confront structural racism and centering underserved communities and communities of color in their organizational structure, council representation, and policy advocacy. I conclude with key questions to achieve desired equitable outcomes.