How can food banks address inequality? Look first at themselves

Most food banks do little to address the larger systemic forces that create hunger, as The Counter contributor Andrew Fisher has pointed out. But how might these charitable organizations also promote inequity within their own walls?

Rut Martinez-Alicea, the newly-hired director of equity at the Oregon Food Bank, explains the corrective actions she’s taking in a profile by Food Bank News. Her agenda includes reimagining and redesigning pay structures for employees, in order to better recognize and compensate for their differences, like a new hire’s cost of living, or their foreign language competency. The idea is that the organization must fix its internal culture before it can be more broadly successful. “If we continue to dedicate resources to a model of food distribution and not appropriately fund the resources that lead to structural change,” she said, “then we are not being good stewards of our funding—and we are being ineffective.”

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