Commitment to Racial Equity

Feast Down East, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2006 in Wilmington, North Carolina, strengthens farming communities in Southeastern North Carolina by providing resources, education, and distribution opportunities to small-scale, local farmers while also addressing equitable food access in communities with the greatest need.

In response to COVID-19, Feast Down East worked quickly and tactfully to support the needs of farmers and our vulnerable, at-risk community members. Many farmers faced losing an entire season of crops/produce when restaurants and universities closed in late March 2020 and livestock farmers struggled with processing delays. Covid also made safe grocery access for low income community members nearly impossible. These individuals already had very little access to fresh, healthy foods. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority and BIPOC communities, highlighting racial and class disparities in access to quality food, healthcare, and housing. These issues existed long before COVID.

As the pandemic surged in late spring, the nation witnessed the murders of black individuals such as Ahmaud Aubrey, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police. Their deaths, and countless other Black Americans, combined with the unfolding pandemic and national emergency, brought the voices and righteous protest of Black Lives Matter and racial reckoning to all of America and the world-including justifiable movements and initiatives to encourage and uplift BIPOC farm workers.

When FDE was founded almost fifteen years ago, BIPOC farmers struggled to make a living in Southeastern North Carolina. They still struggle today. Many farmers of color have experienced the loss of family farmland due to the long history of systemic racism in our policies, the stealing of Indigineous land rights, and consolidated industrial economies that control agriculture in our region.

In the past, FDE’s support of BIPOC farmers and recognition of their voice and agency has been insufficient. We commit to repairing this fracture in FDE and to becoming essential leaders in the regional and national movement for racial justice and equity, particularly within sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and food access.

Like many non-profit organizations across America, FDE is closely examining its own racial bias, and will embrace anti-racism practices in the workplace. In a commitment to improve this, we will hire more BIPOC staff members and recruit BIPOC board members who better reflect the diversity of our community. FDE is committed to engaging and involving the leadership of BIPOC farmers and community leaders who grow the local, healthy food that feeds our community. It is crucial that FDE also supports the work of the next generation of young farmers who are crucial to our region in ensuring we have representative and accessible agricultural ownership, production, and distribution.

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