In 2020, we launched our version of a hybrid food hub. While many organizations and local and state governments were starting up food distribution operations in communities across the country, we noticed that many Black farmers were being excluded from these programs or weren’t being paid in an equitable and sustainable manner. We also heard reports of Black communities receiving deliveries of produce boxes with food that was not culturally appropriate and sometimes not even fresh.
Recognizing the troubling power dynamics that were (and are) at play in many government and corporate versions of food distribution initiatives, we wanted to create a program that was led by those most directly affected by the issue of food apartheid.
In response to this, we created a program where churches would pay Black farmers a fair price for their produce and then work with us to distribute the food to their members and communities. It is a win-win situation! Black farmers get paid fairly, churches/communities organize to get the food they need for optimal health, but more importantly transformational relationships between producers and consumers are established.
Inspired by the story of Noah and the ark in the Bible, we called this program The Assembling Our Resources for Community Sustainability Program – better known as The ARC.
The ARC uses an asset-based community development model that organizes the gifts and resources already present in the Black community in order to overcome food apartheid and its related challenges. Just like Noah was instructed by God to build an ark to save himself and his family from a devastating flood, we are dedicated to doing our part to build supply chains between Black farms and faith-based organizations that puts the power in our hands to meet our own needs and experience the manifestation of our own communal freedom dreams.
In 2022, The ARC had a very successful year.
Here are some of our highlights from 2022!
- We now have over 114 farmers in our Black Farmer Database
- We sold nearly $10,000 worth of produce on behalf of our partnering Black farmers
- We organized holiday produce bags for students in Baltimore City Public Schools that participated in our new youth program where they learned about traditions of the African diaspora as well as food justice.
Some of our goals for 2023 include:
- Developing a system to share real-time availability of produce from Black farmers in our database
- Expand our relationships with Black farmers in order to provide consistent produce and goods throughout the year
- Establish a pilot program that commits the Maryland Food Bank to buying produce from Black farmers
- Obtain cold-storage and a refrigerated vehicle to assist with transportation logistics
For more information about The ARC, feel free to contact our ARC Program Director, Ashley Drakeford, as ashley[at]blackchurchfsn.net
If you are a Black farmer and would like to be included in our Black Farmer Directory, please click here