Thurs: Community forum to create a Community Food Access Coalition

Thursday, May 16
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Watkins Park Community Center
2360 Dr M.L.K. Jr St

Please register at this link beforehand if possible

Back in November 2020, on the heels of the summer uprisings against the War on Black America, the City-County Council passed Ordinance 337, establishing the Division of Community Nutrition and Food Policy to address “racial inequity in the food system, creating an inclusive mechanism to launch and coordinate food policies and programs, reducing food insecurity in Indianapolis, and improving equitable access to healthy food in Indianapolis, with a focus on supporting the local food economy and food infrastructure of low access areas.”

That initiative is supposed to be guided by the Community Food Access Advisory Commission (IndyFAC) and the Indianapolis Community Food Access Coalition (CFAC). The Ordinance establishes the Coalition “as an independent, community-driven body comprised of diverse residents, constituents, business owners, farmers, educators, community organizations and other stakeholders who share a common goal of improving the Indianapolis food system the latter being independent of the city government” (emphasis added). However, if you visit the Coalition’s website right now to find out who is on the Coalition “team,” you will get the following message: “Whoops, Nothing Found!”

You can find information about the Advisory Commission, which is supposed to be comprised of people recommended by the Coalition. In other words, it appears as though, four years later, the most important body, the Coalition comprised of community members, doesn’t exist. Nonetheless, since 2021 the Advisory Commission has applied for and received millions of dollars under the Coalition’s name, despite it never being formed.

We know that some of their funds are being funneled to Engaging Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm on 39th and Meridian St. Belinda Drake, the Community Engagement Leader at Engaging Solutions, scheduled two public forums to finally begin establishing the Coalition. The first was supposed to be held on Thursday, May 9 at Finish Line Boys and Girls Club on N. Post Rd. However, dozens of people showed up only to find that Drake had cancelled the forum without notifying the community in advance. People were outraged and discouraged. To add fuel to the fire, the consulting firm promised that “the first 15 registrants for each session will receive a $50 gift card.”

This is our city, and this will be our coalition!

The next public forum is scheduled for this Thursday at the Watkins Park Community Center. We are calling on everyone interested in food accessibility and security and in holding our government accountable to the laws they passed to show up. Please register at this link beforehand.

Your input is vital. We encourage all to listen, engage, gather information, and learn about future planning and organizing efforts to form the Coalition according to Ordinance 337!

Stay tuned for additional organizing efforts led in part by the Indianapolis Liberation Center to use the millions of dollars we can access to carry out the mission our city government and its bureaucrats have so far refused to do!

Featured photo: A protest of Brooklyn residents combating a growing food desert. Credit: Liberation News.