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Double the Team, Triple the Wins!

on August 5, 2013

17 fellows, 8 regional coordinators, and 6 national staff. The growth of the Real Food Challenge has been incredible – not only have we secured almost 20 Real Food Campus Commitments this past year, we have also grown our organizing and national team from 20 people to 31 people on board for this fall. After a great training with the whole team in Portland, Maine, we are gearing up for our best year yet -- ready to support student leadership development, organize strategic campaigns, and win shifts of a lot more food purchasing dollars towards REAL food sources.

Through workshops, role-plays, informal conversations and intentional group dialogues the new organizers were able to dig into strategies for agitating people around real food campaigns, deconstructing systems of oppression and privilege in our society, and learning other vital tools for organizing and the food system. Conversations throughout the week ranged from Beyonce to campaign strategy to the unique identities of each person on our team. We entered the space as strangers from around the country with various ideas of organizing, the food system and ourselves. We left, however as a united team ready to explore our identities as organizers who are making REAL change.

 

Not only did we bond as a community, we fell in love with the city of Portland! Immediately we were welcomed by St. Luke’s Cathedral as we made it our home for the next week. (As Anim put it, we were like college kids coming home on a break from school...settling into the space in no time.) Pastor Ben & Lynne were extremely gracious in accommodating our group, orienting us to the community, and even joining us for meals.

 

Throughout the entire week we were blown away by the hospitality and the generosity of the community. We were greeted with food donations (thank you Jeff & Maho from Heiwa Tofu, Martha from Farm Fresh Connection, Brittany from Bard Coffee, Anna from Scratch Baking Co, Elyse from Big Sky Bakery, and others!) and testimonies of how our work was directly helping folks like Aaron Anker from Grandy Oats break into the university markets. Jonah Fertig, co-owner at a worker owned restaurant co-op called Local Sprouts, threw us a beautiful welcome party complete with food, drinks (props to Maine Root, Sebago Brewing Co, & Allagash), and stories about the challenges and successes of the food movement in Maine. We even were written up in the local news!

 

During our training we were able to hear directly from folks also working in the food movement such as Bob St. Peter, Betsy Garrold, and Bonnie Preston from Food for Maine’s Future, Nely Rodriguez from Coalition of Imokalee Workers, Jake Ratner from Just Harvest USA, Jowles Phanord from Cultivating Community, Marada Cook from Crown of Maine Organic, Niaz Dorry from NAMA, Mike Gold from Maine Farmland Trust and Jamien Richardson from Maine Harvest Company.

And of course, we would be remiss not to mention Johann Sabbath, good friend and supporter of our organization, who seriously hooked us up with connections in the Portland area. Our right hand man throughout the week – Johann made this entire thing possible and dedicated his time and expertise to be at our disposal!

So here we are, trained, envisioned, and ready for another year of campaigning! Bring it on, 2013-2104.