The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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Commitment to Diversity

The Food Project strives to create a thoughtful and productive multicultural community of youth and adults.  We want everyone who shares the food system to have the opportunity to help shape it as well.  This means ushering new faces and a wider range of perspectives into the environmental movement.

What The Food Project Believes About Diversity

We believe people are united by their common humanity and have important lessons to learn from their similarities and differences.

We believe diversity strengthens agricultural systems and human communities.

We believe all people can contribute and be of service to others through their common labor.

We believe creating productive, diverse, and fair communities is challenging and requires openness and a willingness to grow from all parties.

We believe it is important to create an environment where people of all backgrounds feel invited and empowered to contribute fully.

We believe solutions and approaches that come from the whole community of The Food Project best advance our mission.

We believe racism and inequity persist in our society and that The Food Project’s integrated approach to youth and community development through sustainable agriculture can contribute new solutions.

Why We Bridge and Build Diverse Communities

Because broad-based social change and the creation of sustainable, local food systems requires partnership between people of all backgrounds.

Because when people from diverse backgrounds learn to work together and engage in cross-cultural learning, they break down isolation, fear, and hatred.

Because a nation with tremendous diversity needs leaders and citizens who can thrive within a multicultural society and world.

Because youth and adults who have opportunities to work and learn in diverse communities can become leaders in creating and sustaining multicultural communities.

Because the fairest and most creative solutions to social and environmental issues emerge when there is a richness of opinion from people of all backgrounds.

How We Bridge and Build Diverse Communities

We offer individuals opportunities to gain skills they need to succeed.  We do this by engaging people in social change and the creation of a sustainable food system for all.

We create productive, multicultural youth and adult communities through shared labor and learning about ourselves, the land, and others.

We integrate young people of all backgrounds in meaningful work throughout the entire organization.  This creates a multi-age, multicultural community that is dynamic and effective in accomplishing change.

We take a positive approach to creating change.  We mix across class, race, gender, political, and economic lines without shaming anyone for who they are or where they come from.

We encourage people to ask their own questions and provide opportunities for people to look at their personal role and responsibility in today’s society, and to discover a personal energy for creating social change.

Our Diversity History and Milestones

The Food Project is deeply committed to creating a thoughtful and productive multicultural community of youth and adults.  Although we are still on the journey to achieving this goal, some of the milestones we have passed along the way include:


•  Ward Cheney and three other people establish The Food Project in Lincoln, a wealthy suburb of Boston.  He partners with Allen Callahan, a pastor in Somerville, to develop the vision and mission and to facilitate growing and distributing food in the City of Boston.  Allen and Ward recognize the need to bridge race and class and to provide meaningful work for young people.


•  The Food Project recruits teenagers from Boston’s inner-city and suburbs, creating teams that bridge race, ethnicity, geography, and class, for the first Summer Youth Program.  Staff for youth programs mirror this diversity.

•  Youth at The Food Project work in Boston shelters and food pantries and manage farmers’ markets serving low-income communities.

•  The Food Project begins farming on two and a half acres in Lincoln.


•  The Food Project meets and works with Che Madyun, a board member of the Roxbury neighborhood group, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. Working with Ms. Madyun enabled The Food Project to lease their first two pieces of land in that neighborhood and to continue a vision of growing and distributing food in the city.


•  The Food Project opens our first city gardens in Dorchester, a low-income Boston neighborhood.


•  In June 1999, 0% of Food Project full-year staff are people of color.

•  Due to an imbalance at a staff level, The Board of Trustees crafts a
Diversity Policy and creates a Diversity Committee made up of youth, staff
and Board members.

•  Through the Youth Engagement Strategy initiative (YES), The W.K. Kellogg Foundation funds The Food Project over two years to create an organizational Cultural Assessment and create leadership capacity in youth in diversity issues.

•  The Food Project begins working with Visions, Inc, a Boston-based organizational diversity consulting firm, to deepen staff and Board commitment to diversity and develop the facilitation skills necessary to address diversity issues with young people.

•  The Board of Trustees and staff review and revise salaries, benefits, and hiring processes.


•  The Cultural Assessment is completed and reviewed by staff, youth, and Trustees.  The original Diversity Committee disbands.

•  Youth members of the Diversity Committee become Diversity Interns who continue the work of the Committee by leading diversity trainings for other young people and Trustees.

•  The Food Project opens our city office, commercial kitchen, and additional city gardens in Dorchester.

•  The Food Project expands our Lincoln office to provide a more professional work setting for all staff in our growing organization.

•  To provide teenagers who have been mentored and trained in other Food Project programs with a bridge to becoming full-time staff, the Fellowship Program is created for youth aged 18 or older.


•  The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Visions, Inc, form a partnership to continue the YES Initiative to train and support youth to take leadership roles in addressing racism and cultural misunderstanding in our communities.  Through YES, organizations in many fields are trained to build youth-adult partnerships around diversity issues.  YES chooses four Food Project Diversity interns as co-facilitators with Visions to provide training to participating organizations nationwide, an honor that recognizes the forward-thinking work of The Food Project.

•  Visions, Inc. and additional consultants mentor Food Project youth and staff to increase internal capacity for leadership in diversity issues and ensure consistent training across years and program areas.

•  Diversity interns lead diversity trainings for participants in all Food Project programs as part of a sequenced multicultural curriculum.

•  The Food Project joins the Boston Environmental Diversity Collaborative, a two-year collaborative project led by the Environmental Leadership Program.

•  The Diversity Committee is institutionalized as a key, organization-wide staff committee.

•  The Food Project invests significant resources in reaching a diverse range of applicants in our hiring searches, thereby increasing our ability to add staff from multicultural backgrounds to our staff community.

•  As of June 2004, 40 percent of full-year staff are people of color.


•  The Food Project continues its commitment to diversity, by focusing on staff training, staff hiring and retention.  Maintaining a multicultural community is present in all the work we do, with youth, staff, volunteers and the Board of Trustees.

This rewarding and challenging work is made possible by the support of several generous institutions and individuals, including an anonymous foundation, the Foley Hoag Foundation, the Lenny Fund, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Food Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Tax ID: 04-3262532


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