Food for the Spirit is Hiring!

Food for the Spirit is pleased to announce our search for a Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN) Director!

Apply by October 24, 2022. Details at: bit.ly/2022_BFENJobOpp

Since 2019, Food for the Spirit has filled a niche in Buffalo and across New York State working alongside networks and people who share a commitment to addressing issues of race and racism in the food system. We work with community partners, organizers, and facilitators in the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement for Western New York’s new food economy, led by communities of color, for communities of color.

First established in 2019, the BFEN now has over 200 members. BFEN members have built relationships and trust, and they are collaborating around a number of critical food systems initiatives including: Buffalo Freedom Gardens, the Igniting Hope Conference, the Juneteenth Agricultural Pavilion, the Seeding East Fellowship, and more. The BFEN has made a lot of progress in Buffalo and the network has grown to the point that having a Director is key.

The BFEN Director will work with the Food for the Spirit team and the BFEN membership to provide strategic direction and leadership around the development of a policy-advocacy platform and campaign. They will support program development for BFEN initiatives and project management for collaborative projects led by BFEN members. They will be a weaver, helping to grow the network, encouraging relationships, trust, and community-building amongst BFEN members and key partners. They will support fundraising and development to ensure sustainability for the BFEN in the years to come.

To apply, view the hiring announcement and details at: bit.ly/2022_BFENJobOpp

Please share this posting with your networks! Help us attract a candidate who can work in partnership with us to bring about a new food economy in Buffalo, led by communities of color, for communities of color. We are confident that with our combined effort, we will find a person with the passion, skills, sensitivity, and commitment needed to fill this crucial new role.

Seeding Resilience; A Coordinated Response to Food Security During COVID-19

“Seeding Resilience’s rapid yet deliberate response is made possible due to pre-existing networks in the community, such as the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).” – Dr. Samina Raja, PhD

In 2020, a coalition of over 160 individuals and organizations came together through weekly meetings and coordinated action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Buffalo. The coalition was called Seeding Resilience and it included growers, emergency food providers, bicycle couriers, food system planners, food justice advocates, researchers, and others.

Dr. Samina Raja, University at Buffalo’s Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab founder and Buffalo Food Equity Network member, wrote an article about the coalition. In the article, she outlines Seeding Resilience’s three-pronged strategy to: (1) rapidly redistribute food to neighborhoods in need; (2) increase food production in the city; and (3) increase employment opportunities.

Raja wrote: “To address the acute crisis, food is being procured from local and/or minority-owned wholesalers and/or farmers. Food is being distributed by Feed Buffalo, an emergency food pantry that intentionally serves healthy and halal food with dignity. Food is being transported by bicycle couriers and volunteer drivers to anyone who requests it, while offering vegan, organic, and halal food. For a more equitable recovery, the coalition is increasing food production city-wide through a network of backyard/frontyard Freedom Gardens, a term coined by Gail Wells, a longtime food justice advocate. Led by a partnership of Food for the Spirit, an emerging organization committed to cultivating spaces for racial healing, ecological justice, and equitable food systems, and Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, a not-for profit organization that supports community gardens, the new Freedom Gardens both respond to the present crisis and seed a more equitable future by giving city residents greater control over their own means of food production.”

She continued: “Seeding Resilience’s rapid yet deliberate response is made possible due to pre-existing networks in the community, such as the Buffalo Food Equity Network (BFEN), a movement of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”

Throughout 2020 and 2021, a group of BFEN members and allies served as the Seeding Resilience facilitation and organizing team. That group included: Bethany Ortquist, Bianca Davis, Cameron Herman, Della Miller, Donna Latham-Edwards, Gail Wells, Hope Isom, Jared Strohl, Kelsey Gosch, Kyliel Thompson, Rebekah Williams, Samina Raja, Sashti Balasundaram, Silver Light, and William Gonzalez.

To read the entire article, click here to read it online or click here to download it as a pdf document.

We’re Recruiting! Food For the Spirit Invites Black Farmers in the Genesee Valley Region to Participate in a Collective Marketing Campaign

In the fall of 2021, Food for the Spirit recruited five Black farmers in the Genesee Valley Region to develop a collective marketing campaign for their farms and farm products.

We wanted to let the world know about the beautiful work Black farmers are doing in this region and connect the farmers with values-aligned markets and consumers for greater prosperity.

Why collective marketing?

Throughout history, people have found power in coming together in collective action. This means sharing resources and knowledge, amplifying each other’s work, and finding what we have in common in a world that makes us feel apart.

Why the Genesee Valley Region?

First, big thanks to the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets who are supporting this project. Second, we want to make sure the work Black farmers are doing in this part of New York State is seen, recognized, and connected to resources.

Is this for me?

Farmers were eligible who identify as Black (from African American ancestry) and either farm or sell their products within any of these nine counties of the Genesee Valley Region: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates.

How can I get involved?

Contact Rebekah Williams at Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org for more information and to get involved.

More details about this project and the farmers who participated can be found in this blog post. Click through to get the details.

2021 Freedom Garden Application

Request supplies and materials for a Freedom Garden at your home by completing this form by Friday, May 7, 2021.

Through Freedom Gardens, 50 households in Buffalo will be supported in starting backyard or front-yard raised-beds and container gardens in their own homes at no-cost. If you are a resident of Buffalo living in any of the following zip codes- 14215, 14213, 14211, 14209, 14208, 14207, 14204- you are eligible to receive supplies and materials for a Freedom Garden at your home.

To request supplies and materials for a Freedom Garden at your home, please complete this form by Friday, May 7, 2021.