Response to the Announcement of closure of the Community Food Security Coalition
Dear Ms. Barnard, Members of the CFSC Board (as represented by the Executive Committee), CFSC Members, and COMFOOD list serve members:
We are writing to express our opposition to the decision, announced on August 6, 2012, to disband CFSC. As members of CFSC, we cannot accept this decision. We do understand that the Board and new Executive Director gave this painful decision extensive consideration. However, the CFSC Board, acting without due consultation with the CFSC membership, has made a grave mistake that requires immediate corrective action. In the interests of the CFSC membership, we advise you take the following steps:
1. The current Board and Executive Director should resign within the next two weeks.
2. Within the next two weeks the current Board should appoint an interim Board with no more than seven members to serve not less than one year and not more than two years. The membership of this interim Board will include the most qualified community food movement and food justice leaders.
3. This new interim Board will rescind the action announced August 6, immediately appoint an interim Executive Director, and begin the process of analyzing the resources and capacities of the Coalition for remaining alive and viable going forward, including potential alliances and partnerships which will preserve the core mission of CFSC as we now know it.
4. This new interim Board will include people from the communities most severely affected by community food insecurity and food injustice—low income communities and communities of color.
We recommend these steps for the following reasons:
To close the Community Food Security Coalition, to dismantle its vision and mission, to hand off pieces of the Coalition to anyone else are actions that represent a failure of fiduciary duty to protect all assets of the organization and a betrayal to the hundreds if not thousands of people who have invested in the Coalition and in its fundamental values and principles.
To couch the rationale for this decision on the basis of loss of grant funding—when we were told that the new ED was chosen specifically for her fund-raising expertise—is false logic. All of us in the food justice movement know the struggle for funding, yet we find ways to continue on.
The action of closing CFSC will kill the most powerful and effective advocacy organization for community food security that we have ever had. CFSC got the Community Food Project Competitive Grant Program into mandatory USDA funding before the Coalition's first annual meeting. With Occidental College CFSC launched the school food movement in the US. CFSC forged the first connections to public health. And the list goes on.
More importantly, no organization on a national scale except for CFSC has done as much to advance the basic CFSC mission: To ensure that all people at all times have ready access to fresh, healthy, affordable food, outside of emergency sources—the original and still the most powerful definition of community food security. We have an enormous amount to work to do to achieve this mission. When we have ready access to fresh, healthy, affordable food in every neighborhood in the US (to say nothing of the rest of the world), when the people of those neighborhoods own the means of production and exchange of the healthy food they eat, and thereby enjoy the economic benefits of this vital production and exchange—then we can close the Coalition—but not until then.
We ask the Board to act on our requests as soon as possible in order to preserve this mission and this singular focus, in order to rebuild the capacity of the Community Food Security Coalition, and to restore the Coalition to its rightful leadership of the community food security and food justice movement.
Eric Holt Giménez
Community to Community
Devon G. Peña, Ph.D.
Miakoda (Jyll Taylor)