In mid-2019, the Food Bank began the work of learning how to lead and operate with equity and diversity in every part of our work to nourish people, build solutions, and empower communities, both internally and externally. With the support of Feeding America and the Food Bank’s Board of Directors, our leadership and then our full staff participated in a multi-day training to learn about systemic racism. Not only to recognize it, but also unpack how systemic racism impacts the Food Bank’s existence, and what we can do to shift our thinking and operations with a lens of equity.
While COVID-19 delayed some of our planned next steps in equity, diversity, and inclusion training, we want to give an update on what the Food Bank is doing to continue our commitment to combat racism. Under the guidance of racial equity experts, we’ve continued with listening and learning sessions with staff, our board, and our partner agencies. The result of these sessions were some great recommendations and insights for the next steps.
The first of those recommendations was to hire a Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) whose focus will be to develop the equity lens under which we will operate and integrate into our strategic plan. In April 2021, we welcomed Mariah Murrell as our new Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
The pandemic slowed our plans a bit, but the work continues. One of the areas we’ve focused on in the last year is supporting our partner agencies and the new organizations we’re working with in their capacity to address hunger and its root causes. Partnerships are truly the key to building solutions to end hunger and racial injustice. We’re reaching people who have been marginalized – even before the pandemic – by supporting and partnering with groups like AMEXCAN, the Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.
As a food bank, we recognize our role in combating racism. We commit to challenging ourselves and our partners to prioritize equity, and actively identify and call out systemic acts of racial discrimination against all people of color: in our workplace, our service delivery, and our communities.