Food First Mission Statement
The purpose of the Institute for Food and Development Policy - Food First - is to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger.
Bridging Food Justice and Food Sovereignty
Called one of the country's “most established food think tanks” by the New York Times, the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First, is a “people's think-and-do tank.” Our mission is to end the injustices that cause hunger, poverty and environmental degradation throughout the world. We believe a world free of hunger is possible if farmers and communities take back control of the food systems presently dominated by transnational agri-foods industries. We carry out research, analysis, advocacy and education with communities and social movements for informed citizen engagement with the institutions and policies that control production, distribution and access to food. Our work both informs and amplifies the voices of social movements fighting for food justice and food sovereignty. We are committed to dismantling racism in the food system and believe in people’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems—at home and abroad.
Food First Programs: A Three-pronged Approach
In an effort to build bridges between food justice and food sovereignty movements, and reach across rural-urban and local-global divides, Food First divides its work into three Program Areas. To learn more, go to the three links.
- Building Local Agri-Foods Systems
- Forging Food Sovereignty with Farmers
- Democratizing Development: Land, Resources and Markets
Food First’s activity areas are designed to link our programs in ways that support processes of reflection-action-reflection and work to integrate local, national and global efforts for justice and food sovereignty. Given that most social movements, communities (and many activists) are busy dealing with their immediate struggles, Food First’s contribution is to provide information and analysis that informs action and advocacy. Our activities are an integrated mix of research, publication, training and organizing.
Activities conducted to advance these three program areas include:
Research and Education
a. Research & Analysis
The goal of Food First’s applied research work is to generate information and analysis for food sovereignty—locally and worldwide. We also carry out Participatory Action Research—PAR with community organizations to help them generate their own information and analyses. The combination of our applied and participatory research produces real-time, information and insights that influences broader development debates from the perspective of community-based food sovereignty struggles.
Our publications focus on emblematic struggles, issues and experiences in the U.S. and the Global South, highlighting new paradigms for social change. We share our information and analysis regularly in conferences, radio interviews, and public forums.
c. Publishing Books, Backgrounders, Action Alerts, etc.
Food First is known for these products. We actively pursue titles, subjects and experiences that inform activists and academics about current food sovereignty struggles. We also produce other community-friendly forms of communication (e.g. performing arts, video-documentaries, popular materials etc.). Our latest book Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice exposes the root causes of the global food crisis and gives voice to the grassroots solutions to hunger. We are busy working on the sequel, Breaking Through the Asphalt: Strategies to Transform our Food Systems.
Training, Organizing, and Advocacy
This activity area is the Food First interface with community advocacy, organizing and alternatives. Our collaboration aims to cultivate the leadership and solidarity of low-income, people of color in the U.S. and disenfranchised communities in the Global South. Activities include cross-visits, reality tours, direct mentoring, participation in campaigns, forums, conferences, seminars and other events. Food First actively supports networking, capacity-building and advocacy.
a. Training & Mentoring
These activities actively reach out to low-income youth of color in the U.S. and to rural families in the Global South to provide training and internship opportunities in the field and within Food First. Interns and trainees will learn to generate and communicate critical information on food systems and will engage in hands-on research, training and advocacy activities (e.g. food policy councils, farmer-to-farmer workshops, etc.).
b. Networking, Tours & Cross visits
This area builds horizontal linkages between communities and activists between and within the U.S. and the Global South. Food First arranges 10-day educational tours for activists, funders and community representatives, and short informational/training visits between communities working on food sovereignty issues.
c. Campaigning and recommending policy
These activities focus both on formulating policy for equitable, sustainable food systems, and ensuring their implementation buy creating political will through broad-based campaigns. Food First targets local-global issues capable of generating international support such as food justice, the U.S. Farm Bill (and its impact on farmers and consumers worldwide), the African Green Revolution, Biofuels, GE-Free agricultural zones and urban neighborhoods, land reform, and farmers rights.
d. Providing Project support
Food First is partnering with several emblematic projects that are advancing community-based alternatives for food sovereignty and food justice (e.g. US-Mesoamerican sustainable agricultural networks and Alternative Food Security in Africa, U.S. food justice campaign). We will be highlighting these projects, channeling support, and opening up dialogue between people in these projects and the public at large.
Food First has an ambitious agenda reaching all the way from local to global. Given resource constraints, Food First uses two main strategies to maximize our impact - 1) We collaborate with both academic and community-based colleagues on joint efforts, and 2) We rely extensively on the assistance of interns and fellows for both research and outreach.
You are invited to join in our growing collaboration. Become a member/donor, sign up for our e-mail newsletters and become a Facebook fan. Together we are building cooperative communities that put Food First!