October 30, 2023
Action teams are about collective power, and bringing people together to affect change.
Accessing quality food is not just about having culturally preferable, affordable, and nutritious vegetables more readily available. It is also about having access to time, knowledge, and equipment. Some people simply do not have the time to prepare a meal for themselves, or even the knowledge and proper equipment to turn their food into something delicious. Prepared Meals works with individuals and organizations across the food supply chain to recover food that would have been wasted and to get it into hunger relief channels, schools, and other spaces where food insecurity is an issue. In doing this, they work with chefs and food makers to make culturally affirming foods more readily available in the food system. As Robin Manthie said,
“we are fighting a big nasty beast of structural racism.”
These efforts are directly targeting structural systems of food distribution that have been ineffective due, in part, to the lack of cultural flexibility inherent within them.
One example of a prepared meals partnership is Meals on Wheels, which now offers Halal Meals and has changed their approach to be more in line with one of their partners, Al-Maa’uun, who adjusted delivery times for those who were fasting during Ramadan. Another example is Kitchen Coalition with Second Harvest Heartland, which recovers food donated to the food bank to create meals based on what their recipients have said they want to eat. Once the meals are prepared, they are delivered to nonprofit organizations, childcare and youth programs, community colleges, and individual homes. More than 50% of meals are made by BIPOC-led or owned restaurants and caterers.
One key challenge this action team is working to address is the nutrition restrictions and requirements within public school systems. These requirements inhibit them from getting funding to make culturally preferable foods more available in schools. While they are working with a number of partners, such as Sean Sherman with the Indigenous Food Lab, to address food access gaps in privately funded schools, they would like to make these opportunities more readily available in public school systems. This is where you come in!