Praxis Project Announces "Eat4Health" Fellowship Program

The Praxis Project Cultivates New Generation of Food Policy Advocates Through “EAT4 Health” Fellowship Program

Washington, DC—In an effort to amplify grassroots voice in food policy of communities across the country, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation in partnership with The Praxis Project and Community Science have launched the EAT4Health (Everybody at the Table for Health) Initiative—a fellowship program to cultivate the already burgeoning movement of food policy advocacy in low-income and communities of color.

Eat4Health is a new national leadership development initiative that aims cultivate a new generation of food policy advocates by building and leveraging the strengths of grassroots organizations alongside the expertise of DC-based national advocacy organizations.  By building the leadership of grassroots advocates, the initiative aims to foster a more informed, equitable and powerful policy advocacy process resulting in federal food policy that promotes well-being for historically disfranchised communities.

“Our goal is to bring about better food and farm policy by supporting community-based leaders who will help bridge the gap between grass-roots community organizing and national advocacy,” says Kolu Zigbi, Noyes Foundation Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, and creator of the fellowship program, also known as EAT4Health. “Ultimately, we hope EAT4Health will lead to enactment of federal food and farm policies that support environmental, economic and food justice for all.”

The EAT4Health fellows come from communities adversely impacted by national food, environmental, labor and health policies.  Through deepening their relationships with national advocacy groups, and learning more about federal food policy, the fellows are expected to become better advocates at the local, state and national levels for their communities, to counter the uneven playing field of corporate interests that now govern US food policy.

“The Praxis Project model is to impact national policy by building the power of our grassroots organizations to change local policy,” Makani Themba, founder and Executive Director of The Praxis Project. “The time is ripe—and The Praxis Project is very excited to be working with The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation to build the next generation of food policy advocates in communities of color.”

The inaugural fellows of the EAT4Heath Initiative are:

  • Nelson Carrasquillo, General Coordinator of the Farmworkers Support Committee, or el Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas, CATA (Grassboro, NJ). Previously he coordinated organizing in the National Ecumenical Movement in his native Puerto Rico, where he worked with fishing and small agricultural communities, farm workers, and communities with environmental problems.
  • Charity Hicks, Coordinator of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council’s Detroit Food Justice Taskforce (Detroit, MI). Hicks previously worked as a clinical research associate and project coordinator of a National Institutes of Health-funded longitudinal study on health disparities at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.
  • Diana Lopez, Coordinator of Environmental Justice at the Southwest Workers Union (San Antonio, TX). Lopez was recognized with the 2009 Brower Youth Award from Earth Island Institute and the Urban Renewal Award for her community organizing and for promoting food sovereignty, premised on the belief that people have the right to decide what to eat and that food should be healthy and accessible to everyone in the community.
  • Dana Parfait, Member of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees, which is part of the Coastal Communities Collaborative (Houma, LA). Parfait, an accountant and tribal researcher, serves on the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees Tribal Community Disaster Council. She has worked on emergency preparedness and policy issues related to tribal disaster recovery since 2005.

In addition to participating in the selection of the fellows, The Praxis Project will provide training and support to the fellows; assist in developing, assessing and prioritizing policy frames and messages with the Fellows; and supervise their progress with their local organizations.