1. Taking action from the individual to the systemic: Food access, food skills and civic engagement
The poverty and food issues that we see manifested in low-income communities have causes and solutions that are multifaceted and complex, and thus there is power in approaching the problem from the individual level to the systemic level. We believe that all people have the right to the basics of a dignified life: a decent income, housing and employment. Together we need to fight for these rights, and create opportunities for those affected to make their voices heard. Until we achieve these goals, we can work to help meet basic need in the short term and to maximize the choices available to them with skills that enable them to choose, grow and prepare good food. Offering programs that span the range of access, skills and engagement on food and hunger creates relevance and multiple points of connections, while creating the potential for a critical mass of staff and programs.
2. Believing and investing in the power of good food
We believe good food has the power to build health, connect people and inspire people to become engaged in issues that matter to them. We strive to make good food a priority, and to provide food through our programs that is delicious, healthy, sustainably-produced and pleasurable to eat.
3. Creating an environment of respect and community leadership
We believe that respect -- for the inherent value, assets and potential to contribute of all people -- should underpin all of our work. Thus we strive to avoid the signs, symbols and procedures that contribute to the stigma often experienced by people attending food programs in charitable organizations, and to positively communicate our respect for all participants through respectful procedures and inviting community involvement. We believe that people are healthiest and happiest when they are making their own choices, meeting their own needs and contributing to their communities. We strive to empower those with lived experience of hunger and poverty with a platform to speak up against these issues and help others in the community who are struggling with them too. In addition, inviting community involvement breaks down the binary between the ‘givers’ and ‘receivers’ of charity so dominant in many emergency food programs.
4. Meeting people where they’re at
We work to meet people where they are at by recognizing and striving to meet needs of participants at multiple levels in ways that are relevant to their actual circumstances. By recognizing that people’s skills and goals are diverse, that many bring their own assets to the table, in all areas we work with people toward self-identified change, without judging or preaching. We work to ensure that there is as much pleasure and value in the process of reaching individual and community goals as there is in reaching the outcome sought.
5. Aiming high for our organizations and our community
We believe that in order to do the important work of community food organizations, these organizations need to be properly resourced. Volunteers are an important part of our work but cannot sustain the entire sector -- private philanthropy and government must also play a role in supporting organizations that are properly staffed and funded to be able to create impact. In return, we believe in demonstrating our value by holding ourselves to a high standard of performance and impact.