Race Forward Releases New Report on Food Hubs, Racial Equity, and Self-Determination in the South

Race Forward Releases New Report on Food Hubs, Racial Equity, and Self-Determination in the South

Authored by award-winning and visionary activist Dara Cooper, 'Reframing Food Hubs' offers race-explicit solutions for achieving equity in our food system.

April 5, 2018 (New York, NY) -- Leading racial justice nonprofit Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation today released a new report Reframing Food Hubs: Food Hubs, Racial Equity, and Self-Determination in the South. Authored by award-winning food justice activist Dara Cooper, Reframing Food Hubs shares stories, insights, lessons, and recommendations for transforming the field of food systems work, dismantling structural inequity, and creating racially equitable food outcomes for all.

“Food systems work is about much more than food; it is deeply connected to the myriad of ways communities of color experience injustice,” said Cooper. “In a food system and economy that exploits and fails people of color, food hubs and co-ops are one way that farmers of color are countering barriers to entry while transforming the food system to center racial equity, self-determination, and dignity.”

As Co-Founder of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA), Cooper is a leading voice of the food justice movement, and was recently recognized as a recipient of the James Beard Foundation 2018 Leadership Award for dedicating her life to racial equity and justice in the food system.

According to Cooper, racist policies and practices, both past and present, have made it impossible to achieve equity in our food system without addressing race specifically and directly. Reframing Food Hubs is an attempt to highlight one facet of a very complicated system with deep, nuanced histories.

Drawing from formal interviews with more than 25 farmers and leaders of food hubs and co-ops, visits with over 50 leaders in food systems work, and numerous conferences and conventions across the South, Reframing Food Hubs is presented in three parts:

  • History of Food Hubs examines the dynamic and complicated history of the U.S. agricultural system while highlighting the inequities that continue to be replicated today in a model described as modern-day sharecropping.
  • Changing the Game: New and Developing Good Hubs shares lessons from Black-led food hubs, sheds, and co-ops that have led incredible work in the South by bringing food to their communities and attempting to change the food system as we know it.
  • Summary of Recommendations outlines five key, race-explicit recommendations for dismantling structural inequity and creating racially equitable food outcomes for all.

In developing the report, Cooper spent four months in the Southern states of North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana, where she researched and observed the work of various communities and individuals who are engaged in food systems work in the South that embodies racial justice and equity. 

"I thank the freedom fighters, farmers, hosts, and incredible activists who helped me to connect and gain such incredible insight into the brilliant, important good food work of the South," said Cooper. "These critical voices tend to be absent or sparse in the national conversation on food systems, yet they hold key insights that would build a better food system for everyone." 

The new Race Forward is committed to building on the work of Center for Social Inclusion to support a more just food system where everyone, no matter their race, can access and afford a basic healthy diet. Race Forward engages with local leaders of color across all parts of the food system to inform and support policy change from the ground up, from to conducting structural analysis of how the food system impacts communities of color to crafting policy solutions that support farmers of color to keep their land and increase access to healthy foods in urban and rural communities. 


Dara Cooper is a national organizer with the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA), an alliance of Black led organizations working towards national Black food sovereignty and land justice. She also serves on the leadership team for the Movement for Black Lives policy table and is an anchor team member of the HEAL (Health Environment Agriculture and Labor) Food Alliance, a cross sector alliance of organizations working to deeply transform our unjust food system.

Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation united with Center for Social Inclusion in 2017 to become the new Race Forward.

Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Founded in 2002, CSI catalyzes community, government, and other institutions to dismantle structural racial inequity and create equitable outcomes for all.

The new Race Forward is home to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a national network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.