In mid-April, just as the (almost) final draft of the One City Food Equality Action Plan (FEAP) was submitted for peer review, a meeting took place on Zoom to talk about how to expand on 2022’s Food Justice Week. ‘Let’s double it!’ everyone eagerly agreed. More time = more events = more communities to share the purpose of Food Justice Fortnight with. Great. But, apart from launching FEAP, what was the purpose?
In 2022, Food Justice Week set out provide the safe spaces that communities needed to talk about the looming cost-of-living crisis. By 2023, rising costs meant that many people’s situations had become more stressful, and the food support sector was continuing to struggle with increasing demands and decreasing food supplies. While it’s important for the media to talk about the economic climate, many organisations and individuals were telling us that the constant reporting was also adding to people’s anxieties.
Food is a tool for empowerment
The purpose of Food Justice Fortnight was becoming clearer.
We needed to remember what food can do, not just what we can’t do without it. We needed to feel connected through our shared interests and values, ones that can be difficult to remember when your food (and socialising) choices feel so limited. We needed to remind ourselves of the good news and hear from the brilliant people achieving amazing things every day all over the city.
Despite the difficult times, we needed to feel a sense of optimism and celebration. So, it was decided that making and sharing food together, and therefore our stories, experiences, and cultures, would be a key goal of Food Justice Fortnight.
Food Justice belongs to the Community
It was also important to talk about the values of Food Justice, but what it means and looks like can change from person to person and community to community.
Not only this, but the way we express ourselves varies for different people. Some like to sit around a table and talk, others want to put their ideas down on paper, some people communicate through the food they cook, while others need a platform for their voices to be heard.
We wanted to ensure that everyone taking part had a way to convey their views, and that communities who are often overshadowed had the space to define their own take on Food Justice. This was articulated through ‘cookalongs’, craft activities, panel discussions, debates and cooking workshops, all of which helped shape a fortnight as unique as all the individuals who contributed to it.
Working together for Food Justice
Approximately 18 organisations, 21 volunteers, 25 speakers, 23 chefs and more than 300 participants took part in Food Justice Fortnight 2023.
What can’t be counted, though, are all the conversations, the first-time tastings, the ‘go on, have another’ servings, the ‘hand me your plate’ smiles, the nods, the laughs, the hugs and the ‘we’re no longer strangers’ goodbyes. Yet, every single one of these interactions counts, and plays an enormous part in laying the foundation for building a fairer and more resilient ‘foodscape’ in the city.
Food Justice is not only about numbers, in the same way the value of food isn’t just about the calories that fuel us. Food is about culture, identity, equality, relationships, wellbeing, expression, community and all of the things that make us human.
The Food Equality Action Plan is now officially launched, and thanks to the wonderful array of co-hosting organisations, Food Justice Fortnight could showcase the actions that are already happening to address food inequality in the city. Not only are organisations like these working towards Food Justice in so many ways every single day, but they demonstrate that through collaboration and cooperation, we can be so much more effective in achieving our goals.
While we won’t be doubling the fortnight to create Food Justice Month next year, we’re feeling inspired and excited to start planning 2024’s events. The sense of connection and togetherness felt at Food Justice Fortnight reminded us of all the reasons why our experience of food matters so much, and refreshed our drive to keep working together, as a city, for Food Justice.
Did you attend a Food Justice Fortnight event? Tell us about your experience using this (very short) feedback form!