Where do we grow from here?

Graffiti in East Austin. Photo credit: Simone Benz

SFC's Equity Team: Work Toward Progress

In 2016, SFC launched a Racial Justice team, comprised of members of staff across all departments, after an in-depth training on racial justice and equity. Our goals were to look at our organizational processes and culture, and learn how to be better allies for our community.

Today, we wanted to share our racial justice journey at a time when so many systemic injustices are being illuminated.

Hands Holding Large Tomatoes

Hands Holding Large Tomatoes. Photo credit: Becca Montjoy

Education and Planning

In 2016, we brought on a team of experts, Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer and Paula X. Rojas, to lead the entire SFC staff through a racial justice training. We hoped to better contextualize the climate at the time, confront our own internal biases, and learn how to be better allies individually and as an organization.

From January through June of 2016, all SFC staff spent 36 hours of training with Martha and Paula. As a result of this training, we formed an internal Racial Justice team and a 5-year racial justice strategic plan.

This plan included change at all levels of the organization: changes to our physical space, to our HR practices, and to questions we include on client surveys. Examples of some of the developments we made include:

  • Established protocol for addressing external feedback and concerns
  • Made our building space more welcoming and inclusive (e.g. bilingual signage and a play area for children during client meetings)
  • Removed education requirements in some job openings
  • Created a more thorough and diverse hiring process

This team facilitated many of these developments, in addition to planning bi-annual breakfast events called Food Justice Encuentros. These breakfasts brought together the local food community to talk about intersectional issues such as immigration, health care, youth activism, and workers’ rights. SFC hosts these events, however, they are inspired by the ideas and needs of the community, highlighting local experts through panels and discussions, with bilingual interpretation and locally catered food.

Martha & Lorenzo

Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer and Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Quantum Possibilities. Photo credit: Naomi Silverman

Expanding our Scope

In 2018 the originals co-chairs of our internal Racial Justice team stepped down to make space for new leadership. During this change of leadership, the new co-chairs saw an opportunity for more LGBTQIA+ representation at SFC, and the racial justice team changed its name to the Equity Team, to incorporate this broadened scope of work. We brought back Dr. Martha Ramos Duffer and her business partner Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano to help us create a shared understanding of how LGBTQIA+ identities fit into food access and racial justice work.

With the addition of this new work, we have made many developments, which we wrote about last month in honor of Pride.

We have worked to stay present through the ever-changing discussion of race and equity through partnerships, trainings, and research. We have met with leaders from other organizations that are committed to equity. We have had the opportunity to present on our journey and help others who are beginning their equity journey as an organization.

As we wrap up our original racial justice strategic plan, we are in the process of evaluating our work, finding out where we need to focus our energy, and developing plans for the future.

sfc staff

SFC Staff

Tips for Getting Started

There are many different approaches (and we are not experts by any means) for getting started implementing equity work into an organization, but here are a few suggestions from our own journey:

Look for resources from other organizations

Many organizations in Austin are also doing this work. You could talk to organizations in your field, attend panels, and join committees.

Examples of organizations actively doing equity work include City of Austin Equity Office, OneVoice Austin, Mission Capital, allgo, and many more.

There is also an abundance of free reading material online, free tools, free webinars, and free and paid trainings around Austin, such as Undoing Racism, Beyond Diversity, Racial Healing Circles, and Race Forward.

Invest in consultation if you can

While you may not be able to spend funds immediately upon starting equity efforts, it can be helpful to make space for equity work in your budget. We were fortunate to find grants to help us fund our trainings and implement changes.

Leaning into the process

For us, it is not about reaching a destination - we continue to grow along this journey.

We commit to remaining open to feedback and be willing to grow and adapt. We will listen to our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ employees, board members, and community members.

We are finding strength in our opportunities to grow. We hope our process of equity and anti-racism work will create space for a more successful, more inclusive, and stronger organization.