The ROOT Report: From Food Charity to Food Justice in Arizona





For tens of millions of Americans—low-income families, working parents, seniors, veterans, undocumented workers—regular pantry visits have become a necessary and ongoing strategy to feed their families. Based in Tucson, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (CFBSA) stands out among 60,000 emergency food providers offering the first line of defense against hunger in the United States. Even though they distributed more than 40 million pounds of produce to 190,000 people last year, CFBSA knows that hunger is more than an issue of food access and that food distribution alone cannot end hunger and poverty. They are doubling down on programs that push beyond food charity to social justice.

Photo credit: Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona via Facebook.

For years, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has been working to become a hub for diverse strategies that marry health and food programming with community education and development to address the root causes of hunger in the region. Partnering with businesses, farmers, residents and local government, CFBSA provides nutrition education, engages in fresh produce rescue, offers garden workshops and leadership training, and helps low-income food entrepreneurs with funding and business development. They are investing in community organizing and advocacy strategies to improve people’s lives and build a just food and farm system.

They also worked directly with the Tucson public school system to create the Farm to Child Program, which acts both as a food production and education space for students and teachers. Through these experimental learning spaces, children at 35 local schools practice planting, harvesting, composting, hen raising, aquaponics, cooking, food safety and more. But they don’t stop at school food, their Farm to Institution Program brings local farmers together with a vast array of business, such as hospitals, distributors and media partners, to ensure economic security for local growers and healthy food access for the community.

The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is a leader in the movement of food banks and pantries across the U.S. that are using their knowledge, resources, infrastructure and networks to shift the focus of their work from food charity to social justice. Moving beyond food distribution, CFBSA is creating new initiatives to build power and engage the community in collectively creating a vibrant local food and farm system to nourish everyone in Arizona and beyond.


For more on the great work CFBSA has been doing, visit


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