Setting the table, not running it

An inclusive approach to access to healthy foods


  • Karen S. Emmerman University of Washington
  • lauren Ornelas Food Empowerment Project



Food Justice, Food Access, Healthy Foods, Food Deserts, Food Apartheid, Inclusive, Vegan, Survey Tool, Community-Based, Food Empowerment Project


First paragraph:

Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is a vegan food justice nonprofit in northern California. We focus on making a more just and sustainable food system for everyone involved. Since injustice in the food system crosses the species barrier, we work to connect the dots between the exploitation of human and nonhuman animals. We focus our efforts on four main areas: ending the use of animals in the food system, improving access to healthy foods in Black, Brown, and low-income communities, exposing the worst forms of child labor (including slavery) in the chocolate industry, and advocating for farmworker rights. These seemingly disparate areas have much in common: they are interlocking forms of oppres­sion, marginalization, and domination in the food system. We recognize that the intersecting nature of oppression necessitates a nuanced response. For example, as an organization working on both farm­worker justice and food apartheid, we cannot advocate for lowering the price of food as this would negatively impact produce workers who already suffer grave systemic injustice. Instead, we advocate for equality of access and living wages for everyone.[1] In this piece, we focus on our approach to the lack of access to healthy foods, and specifically our community-based efforts in Vallejo, California.

[1] Food Empowerment Project does not use the common term “food deserts” to describe areas impacted by lack of access to healthy foods. We prefer “food apartheid.” Deserts are naturally occurring phenomena. “Food apartheid” better captures the deliberate systemic, political, and racist origins of the food crisis faced in Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities.


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Author Biographies

Karen S. Emmerman, University of Washington

PhD.; Part-Time Lecturer, Department of Philosophy

lauren Ornelas, Food Empowerment Project

Collaborator with the corresponding author; Founder and President

Food as a Tool for Social Change, sponsored by Falk College, Syracuse University



How to Cite

Emmerman, K., & Ornelas, lauren. (2021). Setting the table, not running it: An inclusive approach to access to healthy foods. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(4), 47–50.



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