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Food ACCESS 2022: It’s a Wrap

October 19, 2022

We at CAFB are so grateful to all who attended Food ACCESS 2022: Everyone to the Table presented by PG&E. What a fantastic two-day convening of passionate anti-hunger advocates. The conference was filled with educational workshops and inspirational speakers.

On the morning of Monday, October 3, conference attendees began to filter into the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento. Old friends were spotted, “nice to actually meet you in person!”s were exchanged, and soon enough, it was time to start the day with lunch.

First up was an address by our CEO Stacia Levenfeld. She spoke about historic milestones of the anti-hunger movement and the history of CAFB, honoring key individuals who have shaped our organization. She spoke to the moment we find ourselves in now as an anti-hunger community, and to how our strong foundation and pandemic learnings have equipped us to create a hunger-free future.

We then heard a moderated conversation between California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross and Farmer and Former CDFA Secretary AG Kawamura, moderated by Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County CEO Claudia Bonilla Keller.

Former Secretary AG Kawamura, Secretary Karen Ross, & Claudia Bonilla Keller
Former CDFA Secretary AG Kawamura, Secretary Karen Ross, & Claudia Bonilla Keller

They discussed the roles of government and local farms in ending hunger in California, the innovations that they’re seeing in the agriculture sector, the outside influences impacting California’s agriculture, and lastly, how we can ensure that food insecure Californians aren’t left behind as headlines and public interest shift to other topics. Check out some of the amazing work that AG Kawamura and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County are doing in the video below:

After lunch, there were two rounds of 75-minute workshops, where attendees could choose from a wide range of topics such as “From Language Access to Language Justice,” or “Community-Centered Strategies to Increase Access to Food Assistance,” and “Using Technology to Inform Clients, Empower Agency Networks, & Make Data-Informed Decisions.” These were followed by mini workshops hosted by our sponsors, where attendees could learn about resources available to them.

To cap off an energizing first day, there was an outdoor reception hosted by Comcast where people could mix and mingle over hors d’oeuvres and beverages as our CEO honored four individuals instrumental in CAFB’s history who were present at the event, three of whom retired from their roles as CEOs of their respective food banks within the past few years.

Willy Elliott-McCrea, Bruce Rankin, Mark Lowry, Stacia Levenfeld, & Larry Sly

The morning of Tuesday, October 3, began bright and early with a panel featuring employees from our member food banks who have personally experienced food insecurity. Genevieve Riutort, CEO of Westside Food Bank, moderated this poignant panel, featuring Geo Dinoso from the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano, Dalia Hernandez-Fernandez from Second Harvest of the Greater Valley, Tristan Langstaff from Central California Food Bank, and Joel Campos from Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County.

They spoke to the powerful and meaningful new School Meals for All policy, the stigma they felt growing up food insecure, and how their life experiences empower them in their work. They clearly articulated what they hope their colleagues and allies know about food insecurity as they work to support food insecure community members.

Joel Campos, Geo Dinoso, Genevieve Riutort, Dalia Hernandez-Fernandez, & Tristan Langstaff

After a standing ovation, attendees left the ballroom and split up once more into smaller groups: this time, for discussion groups centered on specific topics such as The Farm Bill or “Communicating with Equity & Inclusion.” Here, attendees could bring both their wisdom and their questions to the conversation. A final round of workshops followed, and then it was time for the final plenary.

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom kicked things off by discussing pathways to end hunger, including ensuring all students have access to fresh, local produce.

Next, we heard from Mikki Kendall, writer and diversity consultant who authored the book HOOD FEMINISM: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot. Mikki shared her own experiences facing food insecurity in Chicago, discussed the multifaceted ways in which hunger impacts people’s day-to-day life, and called for the systemic changes necessary to end our hunger crisis.

After this inspiring and authentic keynote address, folks lined up to meet Mikki, who graciously greeted each eager attendee.

Next, conference-goers spent their final hour of the Food ACCESS conference in networking groups, connecting across different organizations with those they share similar roles with — such as Operations, Programs, and Policy/Advocacy.

At long last, it was time for everyone to return home, carrying with them new information, new memories, and new connections. We can’t wait to see everyone again at our next Food ACCESS conference in Spring 2024!

Food ACCESS 2022, by the numbers:

Soon we will be posting more photos from the event. For now, share your own on social media using the hashtag #FoodAccess22.

And, a huge thanks to the Conference Planning Committee and CAFB Team.

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