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Building A Culture of Belonging

If there’s one thing we know at SFC, it’s that we are always learning. We are learning about new issues and complexities within our food system. We are learning to adapt to the changing needs of our growing city, and we are learning about the best ways to support our farmers and most effectively increase access to healthy, affordable food. Learning is so intrinsic to who we are as an organization, that we recently set it as one of our 5 core values.

As we do this work, we are also committed to building a culture of belonging, where SFC is safe, accessible, and inclusive to all. We know that until all communities feel seen and represented in our programs and our vision, our work is not done – and we also know this will be a continual learning process.

Where we stand

In 2016, the entire SFC staff embarked on a racial justice training journey over the course of 6 months, led by trainers Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer and Paula X. Rojas. Out of this training, SFC developed the Racial Justice team, an internal team committed to diversity and inclusion.

About a year and a half ago, the team took on a new name – the Equity Team – and added a new lens: LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual+) inclusion and representation.

Since then, SFC has made small strides toward a more welcoming environment:

  • We conducted an appreciative inquiry to find the gaps in our programs and processes that may affect LGBTQIA+ populations.
  • We updated gender options on our intake forms to be more reflective of all the diverse gender identities in our community.
  • Most recently, SFC staff all participated in an LGBTQIA+ inclusion training with Quantum Possibilities team Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer and Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano to build upon the racial justice framework from our past training.

It’s all in the mission

During our training, we were reminded to keep our new mission in mind as we do this work: to cultivate a just and regenerative food system so people and the environment can thrive.

In order for people to thrive, everyone needs to feel they belong here, and that means that no one has to hide parts of themselves – such as their heritage or sexual orientation – when they enter our space.

It's human nature to want to belong; our words and actions have the power to help others feel they belong or make them feel rejected. There are small tweaks we can make to our language that help create a sense of inclusion. For example, we can say ‘folks’ and y’all’ instead of ‘ladies and gentleman’. We can refer to each other’s ‘partners’ or ‘spouses’ rather than ‘husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend’.

Using inclusive language and respecting and validating each other's names, pronouns, gender identities, and sexual orientations are all ways we can create a culture of belonging, both in and out of the workplace.

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What does this have to do with food?

LGBTQIA+ identities intersect with food and food access, because LGBTQIA+ communities are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.

For example, LGBTQIA+ adults are 1.62 times more likely than non-LGBTQIA+ adults to report not having enough money for the food at some point in the last year. LGBTQIA+ adults aged 18 to 44 are 1.36 times more likely than non-LGBTQIA+ adults of the same age to have participated in SNAP in the past year.

We know that SFC needs to be intentional about working with our LGBTQIA+ community to help address these disparities and ensure all feel welcome here.

Moving forward

When we take part in trainings – and it’s in the name – we are there to practice and train, not get all the answers. We learn to expand our worldviews, we hear each other’s experiences, and we better understand the context of how oppression exists and why some populations face greater barriers to getting their needs met than others.

We leave with tools to think critically, expand our language, and to have more compassion for each other and for the things we don’t yet understand. We know that when we continue to commit ourselves to learning and growing, we can begin to make SFC a community space where all belong.

Martha & Lorenzo

Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer and Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Quantum Possibilities

How can you take part?

If you want to challenge your workplace to move toward a more equitable, inclusive environment, we recommend bringing in professional trainers! They can give you important context and help you create a plan to make changes. Visit Quantum Possibilities to learn more about our trainers.