Food Justice

DATE: Thursday, May 4, 2017

The event, organized by Nuestras Raíces and HCC, will host a diverse group of nationally recognized food movement leaders

HCC student paints fence at Nuestras Raices farm in Holyoke during a volunteer day last spring.

Around 200 people are expected to attend the first annual Holyoke Food Justice Conference Sat., May 6, at Holyoke Community College.

The conference, organized by Nuestras Raíces and HCC, will host a diverse group of nationally recognized food movement leaders who will share from their experiences working toward food justice and their visions for the work ahead.

In the spirit of the conference, tickets are available on a sliding scale: a full price ticket is $65, but community members can make a donation instead, based on what they can afford.

"We do not want to exclude anyone," said Jharikem Borrero-Irizarry, Community & Outreach organizer for Nuestras Raíces. "In an effort to account for systemic economic realities, we are making a limited number of tickets available for Holyoke-Springfield area community members for free. We want everyone to come."

The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in HCC's Leslie Phillips Theater, Fine & Performing Arts Building. 

Speakers include: Leah Penniman (Soul Fire Farm, Grafton, N.Y.), Ricardo Salvador (Union of Concerned Scientists), Eric Toensmeier (Perennial Solutions, Holyoke), Maria Cartagena (The People's Historian, Holyoke), Twila Cassadore (San Carlos Apache Tribe), Liz Ogilvie (Gardening the Community, Springfield), Christina Rice and Alyssa Chan (Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic), Arcenio Lopez (Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project), Jennifer Weston (Standing Rock Sioux, UMass Boston, youth representatives from Nuestras Raíces and Gardening the Community.

HCC Nutrition professor Laura Christoph, and others at HCC helped organized the conference. Christoph has been working this spring with Nuestras Raices on a Kellogg Foundation grant-funded program called Nuestra Comida, which encourages implementing policy, community engagement and youth pathways through school to improve our food system.

"I sit on their leadership team and connect the group with HCC resources, possible Service Learning projects and other collaborations to work toward a healthier community," she said.

He conference sponsors are Nuestras Raices, Holyoke Community College, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

The conference will explore the historical roots of food inequity and evaluate the current food system, and examine and policy strategy movements working nationwide to make the U.S. food system more equitable for all.

For 25 years, Nuestras Raíces, has been working on the intersection of food, culture, and urban agriculture in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The group continues to advance its work of building a sustainable and equitable food system for all residents of Holyoke and beyond.

Conference statement: Given the current political climate, we firmly believe we must strive harder than ever to build an inclusive movement for a just, racially equitable, and sustainable food system: one that addresses privilege and access, values indigenous knowledge, and is led by, represents, and lifts up people of color and those from underserved communities. Inequity is present across the food chain, manifesting through the low wages and unfair working conditions experienced by food producers and vendors, the spread of food deserts, and unequal food access in marginalized communities. Now is the time to reclaim our food system and advance food equity through social and political change.

To register, please call Nuestras Raices at 413.535.1789 ext. 209 or go to: