Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks | Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway

According to the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance: “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

– Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

2021 Food Bag Giveaway Flyer

Since 2019, Food for the Spirit has coordinated Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks’ events each year during harvest season, to coordinate efforts of local Buffalo organizations to improve the health and economy for communities of color in Buffalo. With an emphasis on Black and Indigenous growers and food systems leaders, associated events bring Buffalo communities together to learn with and from each other.

As part of Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks events this year, Food for the Spirit is coordinating with Lincoln Memorial UMC First Fruits Food Pantry, Urban Fruits & Veggies, African Heritage Food Co-op, and Impacted Families Project on a Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway.

The Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway will take place on Saturday, October 23rd in three Buffalo neighborhoods: Hamlin Park, the Fruit Belt, and Broadway-Fillmore. The groups are not pushing out information about the neighborhood distributions because they each have regular patrons who depend on the limited supply of bags provided in their neighborhoods.

But what makes this event different from regularly occurring food distribution events in Buffalo neighborhoods, is that the Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks’ Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway event connects Black food systems activists with Black farmers, food distributors, and transportation systems to strengthen Buffalo’s Black food system.

It is important that Black folks know that we can be more than simply food consumers, we can be owners in the food and agriculture system, and that is what this event is about.

The participating organizations form a food and agriculture system supported by two Black-owned farms producing healthy and culturally appropriate food for the community (Urban Fruits & Veggies and Moss Family Fruit & Veggies), organizations that operate refrigerated box trucks that transport fresh food throughout the city (African Heritage Food Co-op and Urban Fruits & Veggies), and several distribution organizations that host food giveaways in neighborhoods hardest hit by food apartheid (Lincoln Memorial UMC and Impacted Families Project).

If you have questions about the Harvest Season Food Bag Giveaway or Buffalo Food Sovereignty Weeks, contact Rebekah (@) foodforthespirit.org.

This event is made possible through the support from Seeding Resilience and the WNY COVID Response Fund.

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

This Fall 2021, Food for the Spirit is recruiting five Black farmers in the Genesee Valley Region to develop a collective marketing campaign for their farms and farm products.

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

Why collective marketing?

Throughout history, marginalized 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?

You are eligible to participate if you identify as Black (from African American ancestry) and either farm or sell your 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 Emilie Miyauchi at emilie (@) foodforthespirit.org for more information and to get involved.

More details about the opportunity, commitments, and benefits can also be found in this one pager. Click through to get the details.

Barriers for Black Farmers’ Success

Photo Credit: Moss Family Fruits & Veggies, Albion NY

Author: Emilie Miyauchi

Co-ops have a long history of facilitating power for rural farmers in the Southern US and globally, but never took deep root in New York State (NYS). It’s past time, and in this era of isolation and crisis of democracy Food for the Spirit is supporting the formation and development of a Black farmer co-op for New York State.

A steering committee composed of NYS Black farmers and stakeholders working to secure food and land sovereignty for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers, met to discuss how a co-op might meaningfully address organizing and infrastructure gaps that have been barriers to Black farmers success.

With only 139 Black farmers of the 57,000 NYS farmers accounted for by the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, the steering committee found consensus around the idea of expanding those farmers’ visibility by way of umbrella marketing under a unique brand. 

The next stages of this cooperative project will see through the work of knitting together values, purpose and identity by marketing together. It’s early, but the vision for what can come of this has been brightening the winter.

For more information or to inquire about getting involved, email Rebekah@foodforthespirit.org.