Evolution: From Access to Justice

The Summit Planning Committee voted in January 2019 to transform the name of the
Summit from the Food Access Summit into the Food Justice Summit. This name change
intends to carry the history and time put into cultivating the Summit since its inception
while evolving naturally as the food movement shifts into centering equity and justice
at its core.

In late 2018, five in-person and online events were held across Minnesota to better
understand participants' past experiences with the 2017 Summit and what they would
like to see in the 2019 Summit. The request for these visioning sessions originated from
a group of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) attendees who were
present at the 2017 Summit as well as information harvested from the Post-Summit
survey. The desire to broaden the reach of the Summit and dig deeper into root causes
of food insecurity was heard widely. From these five sessions, the perspectives of over
85 people were collected. A common thread among each session was the desire to
reconsider the title of the Summit.

The Food Access Summit was created in 2011 to be a common ground for those within
the public health and hunger relief communities to connect and learn from one
another. As the conference grew, the inclusion of agriculture and other community
based organizations became a higher priority.

Language is powerful - it incites emotion and has the ability to bring people together
or tear them apart. Access has become a staple word within the food world - lack of
access is recognized as a vital component of food insecurity. While this may be true,
the term "access" assumes a power dynamic where someone holds the key and
someone is allowed access. It does not address the reasoning behind how or why one
holds the key and another does not. Honoring the histories and resilience of
Indigenous, Black and other communities of color, access only scrapes the surface of
the inequities at hand.

As it should be, our work is ever changing and evolving. Community needs, funding,
capacity, and passion drive much of our work in attempting to address and remediate
issues in our food system. And as our work shifts, so may the way we approach this
Summit. Changing the name of this Summit will not instantly solve all inequities, but it
is a public step towards acting on values that enforce the need for racial equity to be
present as we plan for a more vibrant food system. The concept of justice is not
monolithic, but ultimately imbibes principles of community voice and ownership.