We are FARE: Food Access Raises Everyone
This summer has again highlighted the continued systemic racial and social injustices that exist in this country and their direct connection with public health. We at the FARE Project struggled with whether we should as many have done, issue an official statement to declare where we stand on many of these issues, not because we have any question of our stance but because from the inception of our project we have focused on being action oriented rather than performative. After discussion we decided to share with you the work we have been doing and continue to do, and to reiterate our solidarity with others demonstrating their commitment to equity and racial justice through their actions alongside us. In the wake of the most recent murders of Black people by police and the desire to find actual solutions to structural problems, the work of FARE to improve access to healthy food and address determinants of health is needed as a result of this deeply flawed system. Five years ago, FARE was designed and built with the recognition that racism and poverty are the root causes of the health disparities we experience in our communities. We knew our collective work needed to focus on both improving access to healthy food and addressing the root causes of these existing injustices by engaging residents and grassroots organizations and building the capacity of community members most affected by these issues to address social determinants of health in their own neighborhoods.
We have seen our communities rise up to demonstrate and challenge public institutions and demand action that addresses these injustices in our society. During these challenging times, FARE remains committed to our core values of equity, transparency, accountability, and community leadership. We have been intentional about our commitment to equity since day one. These values have not changed since the project began and over the last two years have become even more integrated into who we are as a result of the diversity, equity, and inclusion work led by our staff and advisors that created the FARE Equity Checklist which guides all of our work. As we have grown and added new projects, initiatives, and team members, the core of our organization and our commitment to these values has remained steadfast and we are willing to make sacrifices to ensure equity remains at the core of how we approach our work. Through our work with our partners, community collectives, advisors, and staff, we have witnessed first hand the many issues and challenges individuals face including systematic oppression and racial injustice. We each bring different educational backgrounds, cultures, life experiences, languages, and beauty, that will continue to move this work forward. We create safe, inclusive spaces for people in our communities to have challenging conversations that lead to action and change. We also come to this work with humility and recognize that we make mistakes. We remain critically reflective of our own work and our partnerships and will hold ourselves and others accountable. We are always looking to learn from each other and won’t let our fear of failure prevent us from taking action towards creating a more equitable community. FARE will continue to support a movement led by action takers and community members that may have thought that there was no room at the table for them; who see the beauty and assets in their neighborhoods but who are not blind to the injustices.
Our work over the last several months highlights this commitment. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic FARE staff reached out to over 30 of our partners and advisors working on the front lines of relief efforts in Cuyahoga County to learn what there gaps and needs are and share our findings in a report with local foundations; we’ve partnered with Neighborhood Connections to offer Rapid Response Grants to community groups with projects that address basic needs and social connectedness related to COVID-19, and we’ve been supporting the work of our community collectives who are leading innovative efforts to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents in their neighborhoods. We look forward to our continued partnership with all of you and are excited to engage new partners who share these values and are ready to actively engage in the hard work ahead of us to improve access to healthy food, address social determinants of health, and intentionally build the capacity and power of our communities to lead this work.
The FARE Team
Dr. Bill McKinney