›› Ariel Reyes Antuan

Our ancestors taught us that supporting each other with kindness and compassion is the best way to enhance our human ­experience. Food is a connector, however many of us agree that food aid is not ­sustainable as it is reliant on the surplus of industrial food systems. We need a food justice movement that facilitates access to healthy food for all and examines the ­structural roots of access disparities.

At Iyé, we have seen that happiness as a persistent state of mind increases ­exponentially when you give from the heart. A notable example is our Palenke Produce Boxes (PPB) where we ­support racialized households through the ­creation of a mutual aid system where people ­support each other, and through ­connecting them with local food grown on these sacred lands. This initiative has been supported by many community ­partners, although here we are highlighting the Good Food Box. Between October 2020 and November 2021, we have supported the bi-weekly nutritional intake of 30 and sometimes up to 50 families. We have ­created a small, interconnected community where we learn from each other’s diverse experiences; through meeting the “sheroes” fighting to put food on the table for their children, those with disabilities left out of current societal structures, and many others.

We are very aware of how racism ­creates food insecurity and the need for transformative justice to dismantle oppression. Indigenous, Black, Newcomers, and other oppressed groups are the most severely impacted by climate change, hunger, poor food access, and diet-related illness within the food system by design—due to white supremacy and systemic barriers.

Current events are introducing new challenges for strengthening our local food systems, and further highlight how the existing aid framework is not ­sustainable for eradicating hunger. We believe these challenges are best overcome through strengthening land-based relationships as the basis of our culture and life itself; through building mutual aid systems, by forming deep relationships, and dismantling current systems of power. Our first step is to reimagine a food system from seed to composting, centering the voices of those who have upheld holistic ecologies from time immemorial.

Ariel Reyes Antuan is a community ­connector, Afrofuturistic, systematic thinker, Iyé ­Creative co-founder, and entrepreneur. Iyé ­Creative (Palenke Produce Boxes) is a partner ­organization of the Gift of Good Food.