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We aim for transparency in our work towards racial equity in the food system. Here is a report, gathered in December 2021, on CISA’s goals and progress. This is not an exhaustive list of every task that could be considered relevant to racial equity — more of an overview of how our work has shifted in recent years.
Build relationships with businesses, organizations, and community members whose constituents and/or leadership represent the cultures and identities of underserved and historically disenfranchised people.
Dedicate staff time for ongoing education and training about the history of racism and its lasting presence in our region.
Be explicit about our aspirational goals and desire to work toward ending systemic racism in our food system.
Internal assessment of organization
Examine how racism and privilege operate within our organization’s walls, come to a deeper understanding of how they frame our decisions and learn how to change that culture.
Internal assessment of programming
Continue the work of researching, developing, and proliferating an analysis of where we will shift our work. Assess our resource distribution to CISA constituents and identify where it can be more equitable.
As part of our commitment to making CISA’s resources more accessible to more people, we have focused on building CISA’s capacity to work with Spanish speaking farmers, farm employees, and expand outreach to customers.
This has included translation of workshop information, Farmers Market outreach, and information about COVID resources and grant opportunities. CISA has also partnered with MA Migrant Education to provide English classes and English tutoring to farmworkers.
CISA staff have increasingly administered two of our flagship programs with an eye towards access and equity.
This includes immense resources and growth in our work with HIP including advocacy at the state level and trainings for market staff in using HIP and creating welcoming spaces. We have developed partnerships with the Springfield Food Policy Council, Hampden County CHIP (Community Health Improvement) network, and other community based organizations. Our next work is to support the voices of people who are most directly impacted by HIP – BIPOC led/owned growers and BIPOC served.
For the Local Hero and technical assistance programs, staff have prioritized outreach and funding for priority farmer groups so that resources aren’t distributed initially to people with tighter relationships or better resources to reach out for support. Some examples include serving as fiscal sponsor for All Farmers and partnering on a USDA grant with Gardening the Community.
Education and training
One way that we have invested in increasing staff understanding and skills related to racial equity is by sending staff to multi-day Undoing Racism trainings.
One example of organizational change: we gave a substantive overhaul to our hiring process over the last several years and changed our job description language and the application process.