Report released on food justice in Richmond in anticipation of Berkeley Global Campus

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Audrey McNamara/Staff

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A report was presented at a Thursday meeting in the campus’s Multicultural Community Center to discuss campus initiatives to improve food justice and community health in Richmond.

The report — authored by Nadia Barhoum, research associate at HAAS Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society — is entitled “Food Justice and Community Health in Richmond” and includes information about health challenges and initiatives to improve food security in Richmond. UC Berkeley’s efforts to help establish food justice in Berkeley and Richmond were also featured in the report.

Amid UC Berkeley’s upcoming development of the Berkeley Global Campus, the report details strategy recommendations to increase food security between the new campus and Richmond such as forming a campus food policy council, creating a regional food hub and providing technical assistance for the community. Other recommendations include creating opportunities for small businesses and marginalized communities as well as forming public health partnerships for low-income underrepresented minority communities.

“The idea is that UC Berkeley is a public institute and a land grant university, and to be expanding its university into Richmond and create a Berkeley Global Campus without taking into account the issues and challenges facing the local community, I think, is really shameful,” Barhoum said.

Barhoum explained that the report was composed as a result of her work with the Richmond community to ensure that the campus commits to a community benefit agreement that would support Richmond residents in areas such as education, housing and job training when the Berkeley Global Campus opens.

Barhoum added that she attempted to find strategies the campus could use to engage in a more meaningful discussion with the Richmond community regarding food security.

Malo Hutson, an assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning, said that institutions — such as universities — that have longterm relationships with the local residents can have a positive or negative impact on that community. He added that the community and the institution must work together to create benefits for residents such as investing in job training, education, helping to support affordable housing and improving food security.

“(It) depends on the strategy and if there’s a true partnership,” Hutson said.

Barhoum said there are mixed feelings among the Richmond community concerning the Berkeley Global Campus. While residents are excited about the potential creation of new jobs and improvement of its economy, they also worry that the campus will function as an “island of opportunity” where jobs will not be accessible to the local community, according to Barhoum.

“The new campus is talking about innovation, and the most innovative thing to do is establish the campus but do it in the way that is improving the life of the community and the surrounding community,” Barhoum said. “That would be an innovative model for a community.”

Contact Sareen Habeshian at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sareeenn