When I attended the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, I had no idea that it would change my life forever. The feeling I felt when I was there and the convergence of ideas and people from all over the world was inspiring. I was overwhelmed by being in the same space as others who felt as strongly as I did about so many issues while recognizing how we are all connected. I came to the realization that I could no longer do my activist work in a silo and instead had to figure out ways to combine my passions and make a more meaningful difference.
This is where the concept for my group Food Empowerment Project was born.
Food Empowerment Project seeks to encourage people to look at their food choices as a force for social change. Looking at those in our society who are often invisible in our food industry, we join our voices with the farm workers who pick our produce to ensure they are being treated with respect and dignity and earn living wages, we work on the lack of access to healthy foods in communities of color and low-incomes communities so that healthy food will be a right and not a privilege, we advocate for people who have access to healthy foods to go vegan to lessen the suffering of non-human animals, and we encourage people not to buy chocolate from areas where the worst form of child labor are taking place, including slavery.
I had also attended the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Atlanta and loved learning from others in the U.S. about struggles here, many of which I had never heard about. There was even one from my hometown in Texas.
Coming back to 2015, I am so excited that part of the USSF will be taking place in San Jose where Food Empowerment Project got its start. San Jose is a bastion of activist history which is too often overlooked.
I’d like to leave you with a blog I wrote on the passing of Hugo Chavez and my experience at the forum in Caracas.
lauren Ornelas is the Founder/Executive Director of the Food Empowerment Project.