At the Amherst Survival Center, we know there is no food justice without racial justice. As a result of the long-term generational impact of systemic racism, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) face food insecurity and economic poverty at higher rates than white people, both nationally and locally. We are committed to ensuring our programs work for all, and continue to strive towards cultivating a more equitable and just environment at the ASC.
In 2016-2017, ASC began focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). A DEI Working Group helped educate the Board and staff, and created a DEI Framework for the organization, guiding decisions and planning. This led the Center to complete the Latinx Food Access Initiative and subsequent Language Access Initiative, actively engaging community members and resulting in improved outreach, new foods offered, and multiple strategies to improve service to speakers of varied languages. In 2019, the Center’s leadership honed in on bringing our anti-racism values into every day operations and integrating our DEI focus throughout each goal in the strategic plan. We began making changes to policies and processes to reduce inequities and improve access for all, including eliminating the proof of address requirement for our pantry shoppers and improving staff recruitment, hiring, evaluation, and compensation processes.
Over the last year, the staff and Board set in motion several next steps:
- Using our DEI focused strategic plan to guide decision making, we focused on equity and access as we expanded programs throughout COVID.
- We created a standing Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee to guide subsequent planning and action. (Seeking additional members, stipends available! See below.)
- The Board approved a standing budget to support this work.
- We now provide (and require) a multi-day anti-racism training for all staff and Board members, conducted by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ).
Currently, our JEDI Committee & program teams are focused on:
- Further expanded food access and providing culturally appropriate foods, including Halal products and produce variety.
- Working with NCCJ to complete a thorough review of policies and procedures (administrative, HR, and program) to identify and change inequitable practices.
- Revamping our feedback & complaint process to make them easier and clearer to everyone at the Center. (We want your input! See below.)
- Curating a list of self-education materials about anti-racism, bias, and food justice (coming soon).
- Revising our volunteer orientation and training program to help address bias.
Join us in this work!
- The Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee is actively seeking additional members (ages 13+). Members are eligible for a stipend of up to $1,200/year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org,
- The Feedback and Complaint Process Subcommittee is seeking members! Stipends are available. Contact Carleen at email@example.com to learn more.
- Join the Food Solution 21 Day Challenge. More info coming soon.
- For general ideas, suggestions, or feedback contact Philip at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the Committee!
“What’s the problem with being ‘not racist’? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: ‘I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ – Ibram X. Kendi
Do you want to make the Amherst Survival Center inclusive and equitable for all? Have you experienced the consequences of racism firsthand? Do you want to put your anti-racist values into practice at the ASC? Together we will work toward, maintain, and further a diverse, inclusive, fair, and equitable environment at the ASC, assessing needs and executing action steps with a focus on seeing, naming, and addressing the impacts of racism as related to our mission. See details below!
Who will be involved?
Anyone, ages 13+, interested will be considered! The JEDI Committee will include up to 15 community members, including those who participate in services, those who volunteer, staff members, board members, and members from the larger Amherst community. People who have experienced the consequences of racism firsthand, who have experience with food insecurity, and those with experience on DEI initiatives are especially encouraged to join.
- The Committee will maintain a membership that is majority Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
- The Committee will be bilingual, with meetings inclusive of both English and Spanish speakers.
What is the time commitment? What else should I know?
- Stipends (up to $1,200/year) are available for community members to honor your time.
- Members can expect to attend 1-3 meetings each month PLUS 1-5 hour(s) of additional related tasks each month (including the full committee and project specific groups).
- Meetings will be virtual for now. (Future decisions about virtual vs. in person will be made by the committee.)
- The Committee will be bilingual (Spanish & English).
Interested? We hoped so!
- Complete the DEI Committee Interest Form
- A team of staff and board members will review all interest forms. We will contact you to schedule a conversation to discuss your interest and the committee further.
More questions? Need help with the form? Contact Philip at 413-549-3968 x103 or email@example.com