Food Justice and the Oshkosh Food Co-op

A Statement of Belonging

The Oshkosh Food Co-op aspires to be a place where all people feel a sense of  belonging--honoring each person’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, religion, ability, economic status, and lived experience. We acknowledge that our society and its institutions have long marginalized, excluded, and jeopardized the safety of people based on these identities, but simply asserting diversity and inclusion within oppressive systems does not change those systems.  

In support of the OFC Mission, Vision, and Endswe intentionally put forth this Statement of Belonging (1)

The Oshkosh Food Co-op aspires to initiate and support actions that are antiracist, justice-oriented, and developed through co-creation, which remove identity-based barriers and help create new systems.  

Background 

OFC was placed with purpose in a food scarce area, on land where Indigenous peoples have gathered and grown food for thousands of years. We acknowledge the  origins of the American cooperative  movement in the agricultural and financial cooperatives established by African-Americans. The co-op model, guided by the Seven International Cooperative  Principleswas chosen because it values the community, the land, and individual customers. Success benefits all. 

Power-sharing  

To live its commitment to belonging, OFC works to stock culturally relevant food and  grocery items based on community input, and to make these items accessible to all. Those in decision-making positions impacting OFC programs and operations also welcome accountability – in regards to  belonging – from the membership, staff, and community. If member-owners choose to instill Belonging at OFC, that requires each of us to hold up the ideals of shared  access, opportunity, and power sharing among all, through a democratically co-created system of food, health, justice, and inclusive community.  

Progress  

The advancement of Belonging is ongoing and transformational. We will be able to celebrate the achievement of our aspirations when the OFC member owners, board, management, staff, contractors, vendors, and customers look like our diverse regional community, and when Oshkosh has significantly fewer community members without access to healthy food options (2,3).

(1) See UC-Berkeley Othering and Belonging Website 
(2) 
See Feeding America's Food Insecurity Map for Winnebago County
(3) 
See US Census Bureau's Food Security Measurement Tool

Cultural Comfort Foods

OFC member-owners, we are sharing our food stories. If you have a story to share about a favorite food from your culture, we'd love to hear it! This can be done in any form that you feel comfortable using. You can send in recipes, pictures, video, stories, or any other ways you would like to share. Anything that connects your culture with food will work. Of course, all languages are welcome.
Members of the Co-op's Food Justice Team have gotten the ball rolling. See their stories below. Send your stories to [email protected]. Be a part of something inclusive, enlightening, and delicious!

Cooperative moments in Food Justice History

  • Enslaved Africans came to America with deep agricultural skills and knowledge, and have contributed to the American ag and food industries ever since. This has taken the form of Carver’s research on crop rotation and cover crops, community land trusts, community-supported agriculture, Hamer’s Freedom Farm Co-operative, the invention of the refrigerator truck by Frederick McKinley Jones, and the Black Panthers free breakfast program for kids.
  • Our Oshkosh Food Co-op stands on the land of the many Indigenous tribes who have stewarded it and grown their food here for centuries, including the Ho-Chunk and Menominee.
  • The American Co-op movement has its roots in the 19th-century African-American agricultural co-operatives.
  • Each historical wave of food co-op expansion (1840s, 1930s, 1970s, 2010s) has had food justice at its heart.
  • Many Black Co-op leaders were part of the Civil Rights Movement: Fannie Lou Hamer, Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin. Food access, co-operatives, and social justice have always gone hand-in-hand.Fannie Lou Hamer, founder of Freedom Farm Co-operative
  • The number of American Black-owned farms dropped from 14% to 2% during the mid-twentieth century, largely because USDA used discriminatory loan practices, and through the dismantling of the USDA Civil Rights office.
  • Vel Phillips, Wisconsin’s first Black judge and first Black woman elected to state-wide office, was a member-owner and resident of a Milwaukee housing co-operative.
  • Most People of Color live in densely populated communities, where their food is provided predominately by white people who reap the profit.
  • Today, non-white households face hunger at twice the rate of white households.

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  • Molly Smiltneek
    published this page 2022-04-18 10:39:00 -0500

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