Food Justice Summit Celebrates Food, Culture, Sustainability

By Liz Karabinakis,

GSCP Program Coordinator

charity-hicks-webFarm fields and foodies flourish in the Finger Lakes, but the abundance of our region is not available to all. "Although Tompkins County is revered as an agriculturally rich region, unemployment and underemployment combined with rising food costs and other basic living expenses are causing our community to slip into food insecurity," says Liz Karabinakis, co-founder and Program Coordinator of GreenStar Community Projects (GSCP), the educational non-profit affiliate of GreenStar Cooperative Market. "Culturally acceptable and dignified access to growing and consuming good food is a human right being taken away from the majority. The global profit-driven food industry is contributing to peak oil and peak soil and is failing our people and planet. The purpose of the Food Justice Summit, organized by GSCP in collaboration with community and campus partners, is to bring people together to take back their food by building a sustainable local food system that is socially just, ecologically responsible and economically viable."

The Food Justice Summit begins with a walkathon at 10 am on Saturday, Sept. 22, outside of Neighborhood Pride (210 Hancock Street, Ithaca). The five-mile loop will include educational stops with opportunities to learn about food justice projects underway and chances for individuals and teams to win great prizes. The walkathon will culminate at a Street Fair from noon until 7 pm, featuring a local organic BBQ with meat, vegetarian and vegan fare, live music, craft vendors, culinary demonstrations, youth activities, performances and more.

A highlight will be a keynote address and workshop provided by Charity Hicks, Co-Creator of the Detroit Food Justice Task Force and founding member of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. Hicks has worked for over ten years in research, public policy, and community activism in Detroit on health disparities, environment, and food and nutrition. She helped write the City of Detroit Food Security Policy in 2008 and the articles for the establishment of the Detroit Food Policy Council, of which she remains an integral member. Hicks is currently serving as a prestigious fellow for EAT4Health, a national leadership development initiative of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation that aims to fill gaps in the existing food policy advocacy infrastructure by building and leveraging the strengths of grassroots organizations alongside the expertise of DC-based National Advocacy organizations.

"We are fortunate to have Ms. Hicks visit us in Ithaca," says Jemila Sequeira, Coordinator of Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins' Whole Community Project. "It will be a great opportunity for our community to learn from her work on food systems and policy." GSCP and Sequeira chose Hicks as this year's Food Justice Summit keynote speaker based on the recommendation of a group of thirteen Ithaca residents who met and were inspired by her at a conference in Detroit during a Food Dignity trip organized by Sequeira.

Other highlights include acclaimed musicians Taina Asili y La Banda Rebelde, a six-piece international ensemble with powerful soulful vocals laid over an energetic fusion of Afro-Caribbean, reggae, rock, and hip hop sounds, with an eclectic style that represents the diversity of its members who have origins in Puerto Rico, Sicily, Greece, Spain, Brazil and Ghana. Get ready to be inspired and dance to the movement of rebellion! Local musicians and performers include Thousands of One, Ernest Verb, Elly Holiday and the Zero Degree Crew Break Dancers.

And you won't want to miss the Junior Iron Chef competition organized by Gardens4Humanity, in which middle schoolers paired with local chefs will wield spatulas and frying pans to cook their way to greatness.

"Events are wonderful opportunities to foster community building, celebrate cultural diversity, cross-pollinate ideas and experience the place we live in and people we live by in a life-enriching way through sharing food, music, dance and more," says event organizer Karabinakis.

The Food Justice Summit is becoming a celebrated annual event, but it needs the community to help it fulfill its potential. Consider registering for the walkathon — GreenStar wants you on their team! Become a business sponsor or volunteer and pitch in on the day. You can sign up for the event listserv at GreenStar's Member Center in the West-End store or make a donation at any register. Funds raised will cover the cost of the event with proceeds going to enrich Congo Square Market, a thriving multicultural gathering at Southside Community Center, and to support GSCP's efforts to build a sustainable regional food system that promotes health, equity and community control of essential resources.

Join us for the Second Annual Food Justice Summit and band together to take back our right to good food for all! For more information about the Food Justice Summit visit or email 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also find the Food Justice Summit on Facebook at

The Food Justice Summit is presented by GreenStar Community Projects in partnership with: Congo Square Market, Gardens 4 Humanity, GIAC, GreenStar Cooperative Market, Multicultural Resource Center, S.T.A.M.P., #TeamUnity, Whole Community Project, and many other community and campus collaborators. Don't miss Latin Roots 2012, Earthdance and Streets Alive, all held on the same weekend for a robust offering of activities that celebrate cultural diversity and promote peace, justice and sustainability.

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