Home Volume 3, Issue 1 Building Capacity Between the Private Emergency Food System and the Local Food Movement: Working Toward Food Justice and Sovereignty in the Global North

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Building Capacity Between the Private Emergency Food System

and the Local Food Movement:

Working Toward Food Justice and Sovereignty in the Global North

by Jesse C. McEntee a and Elena N. Naumova b

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.031.012, pp. 235–253

Published online 4 December 2012



One area of food system research that remains overlooked in terms of making urban-rural distinctions explicit is the private emergency food system of food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters that exists throughout the United States. This system is an important one for millions of food-insecure individuals and today serves nearly as many individuals as public food assistance. In this article, we present an exploratory case that presents findings from research looking at the private emergency food system of a rural county in northern New England, U.S. Specifically, we examine the history of this national network to contextualize our findings and then discuss possibilities for collaboration between this private system and the local food movement (on behalf of both the public and the state). These collaborations present an opportunity in the short term to improve access to high quality local foods for insecure populations, and in the long term to challenge the systemic income and race-based inequalities that increasingly define the modern food system and are the result of prioritizing market-based reforms that re-create inequality at the local and regional levels. We propose alternatives to these approaches that emphasize the ability to ensure adequate food access for vulnerable populations, as well as the right to define, structure, and control how food is produced beyond food consumerism (i.e., voting with our dollars), but through efforts increasingly aligned with a food sovereignty agenda.


Keywords: emergency food, food justice, food sovereignty, rural and urban


 a Corresponding author: Jesse C. McEntee, PhD, Managing Partner, Food Systems Research Institute LLC; P.O. Box 1141; Shelburne, Vermont 05482 USA; +1-802-448-2403; www.foodsystemsresearchinstitute.com; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b Elena N. Naumova, PhD, Associate Dean for Research, School of Engineering; Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University; also Tufts Initiative for the Forecasting and Modeling of Infectious Diseases (InForMID) (http://informid.tufts.edu/); This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The authors are grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council's Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society at Cardiff University as well as the Center for Rural Partnerships at Plymouth State University for financial support during this research.


This paper cited by:

Miewald, C., & McCann, E. (2013). Foodscapes and the geographies of poverty: Sustenance, strategy, and politics in an urban neighborhood. Antipode. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/anti.12057 [cited on10/24/13]



Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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