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 Ends, we 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.
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 Principles, was chosen because it values the community, the land, and individual customers. Success benefits all.
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.
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).
Cultural Comfort Foods
- For the Love of Lefse, by Paul Van Auken
- Memories Made with Mac & Cheese, by Adam Sattler
- Personalizing Picadillo, by Chris Corbin
- Finding Home with Tortillas, by Irma Carlisle
- The Comfort and Culture of Soup, by Warren Bergmann
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.
- 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.