2008 Annual Report

Food First | 04.01.2009

Highlights of Food First’s Impact in 2008

LOCAL—With the hiring of coordinator, Alethea Harper, Food First now provides an “incubation” home for the long-anticipated Oakland Food Policy Council. The plan is that this new organization can be independently serving the residents of Oakland within three years. Read more about Alethea and the Food Policy Council at www.oaklandfood. org. Initial funders include Friedman Family Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, City of Oakland, the Alameda County Public Health Department, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, and the HOPE Collaborative.

NATIONAL—Food First interns interviewing food banks across the country in the summer of 2008, found that demand for donated food was outstripping supply, with some food banks forced to ration and cut hours of operation while frantically searching for new sources of food. These interviews formed the basis for Food First’s Fall 2008 Backgrounder The Food Crisis Comes Home: Empty food banks, rising costs—symptoms of a hungrier nation. Food First participates in a new coalition, The U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis. In response to deepening financial stress, this coalition held an October 16 New York City event to kick off a campaign to put the food crisis squarely on the presidential agenda. With the election of Barack Obama, activists nationwide plunged into organizing aimed at bringing about long-anticipated changes to our health, social services, food and farming systems.

In May Food First was invited to present recommendations to the Congressional House Committee on Financial Services (http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2122). Farmworker labor and living conditions are the unseen side of relatively cheap food here in the U.S.. The October 2008 release of our documentary, Caminos: The Immigrant’s Trail with it’s companion study guide, will be followed by the publication of a new book, Beyond the Fence: A journey to the roots of the migration crisis. These solid educational materials for classroom and community discussion kick off Food First’s 2009 educational campaign aimed at allowing more Americans to deepen their understanding of Mexican migration and consider possible political solutions. This national work is entirely funded by the generous donations of our 6,000 individual donors.

INTERNATIONAL—Food First staff and interns spent much of 2008 documenting the root causes of the food crisis for a book slated for June 2009 publication, Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice. Co-published with Fahamu and Grassroots International, this book will be released simultaneously in the U.S., Europe and Africa. Our work with African farm, civic, and women’s groups continued in 2008. AAAGRrr! e-mail reports keep people informed of the latest developments of the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA), and of the existing agroecological alternatives being advanced by African farmers and social movements. As part of our project to amplify farmers’ voices for African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution, we also gave a presentation on “Climate Change, Adaptation, and the Challenge of Agroecological Alternatives” at an international multi-stakeholder dialogue on the Green Revolution called by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food held in Luxembourg. This work is funded by the New Field Foundation and the Christensen Fund. Agroecological training, sustainable marketing and pollinator work with indigenous and small farmer organizations of the Campesino-a-Campesino Movement in Mexico also continued in 2008, funded by the C.S. Fund and Montana Vistas.