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Equitable Food Oriented Development

The EFOD framework for creating community-owned models of economic and social opportunity.


Join leading community food system practitioners and founders of the emerging Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD) Collaborative, as they present the EFOD framework for creating community-owned models of economic and social opportunity within traditionally disenfranchised and oppressed communities.

Unique in being practitioner created and defined, EFOD has developed over many years of dialogue and practice in the field of food justice work (alt: food-based community development). This webinar provides an introduction to the EFOD framework, presents recent developments including research carried out in partnership with DAISA Enterprises and a new whitepaper written by the EFOD Collaborative, and introduces the Wallace Center's EFOD Regional Food Fellows. Learn more about how you can get involved.





Presenter Bios

Neelam Sharma

Neelam SharmaNeelam Sharma serves as Executive Director of Community Services Unlimited Inc. (CSU), a non-profit based in South Central Los Angeles. Neelam met CSU founders when she visited Los Angeles from London on behalf of the Panther organization she was a founder of in Britain in the mid 1980's. She first became a community activist as a pre-teen in response to an attempt by fascists to organize in Southall, London, where she grew up and since then was always engaged in grass roots community organizing. 

When she moved to South Central Los Angeles from London in 1997 she began to volunteer with CSU and she found that her own difficulties in accessing fresh, high quality, affordable food in her neighborhood was a generalized experience for South LA residents. Her need to feed her own family good food became her work and was driven by her broader understanding of the basic human right to high quality, culturally appropriate food as a critical element of social justice and a basic human right. 

Neelam has mostly lived in the South Central community CSU serves, and has two children who attended neighborhood schools. She was a founding member of the Healthy School Food Coalition, the parents’ coalition responsible for passing the soda ban in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the first in the US, as well as the Los Angeles Food Justice Network (precursor to the LA Food Policy Council) and the California Food and Justice Coalition. As a result of her experience and success working and organizing with residents to expand urban agriculture, build models for grassroots economic development, and improve community health, Neelam is recognized as a national leader on the intersection between community economic development, youth empowerment and food justice.

Neelam loves dancing, reading and story telling and is excited about what the future has in store.

Mariela Cedeño

Mariela CedenoFor over a decade, Mariela has shaped strategies that build the assets of community members, entrepreneurs, farmers, and values-aligned stakeholders engaged in cultivating our local economy and food system. As part of Mandela Partners' (MP) leadership team, she catalyzed the development of MPs economic ventures framework, entrepreneurship programming, and Community Capital Fund – which seek to increase access to low-cost, relationship driven capital. In her role as Interim Director, Mariela develops and promotes new models for investment, growth, and shared wealth that sustain and elevate community ownership, opportunity and health.

Mariela's lifework is firmly based in the belief that supporting under-resourced entrepreneurs is key in building thriving, sustainable, and healthy communities. She brings with her a wide breadth of in the field experience in economic development, business advising, accessible capital, and community engagement. Mariela holds B.A. degrees in Economics and International Relations with honors from the University of California, Davis, and an M.A. in Latin American Development for Vanderbilt University.

Lorena Andrade

Lorena AndradeLorena Andrade is the director of La Mujer Obrera a local independent organization located in El Paso, Texas dedicated to creating communities defined by women. In 1998, Andrade began working for LMO. Andrade helped organize the women displaced from the garment industry as a result of the implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As the organization grew Andrade collaborated with committees within the organization to identify, develop, and implement programs grounded in the history of women workers and Mexican indigenous heritage. She also participated in developing the social enterprise side of La Mujer Obrera, which includes: Rayito de Sol daycare center; Café Mayapan, a restaurant; and LumMetik Trading Co, which focuses on fair trade. In 2011, Andrade became director of LMO, the organization’s programing includes Familias Unidas, community organizing, Museo Maychen, a community garden, and annual cultural events.

Trisha Chakrabarti

Trisha ChakrabartiAs an affiliated consultant working with DAISA, Trisha Chakrabarti is leading its project to explore Equitable Food-Oriented Development as a practice and the organizations that do this work on the ground. Prior to that, she was Director of Programs and Policy at Mandela Partners, where she led community-based programming and research in food access, clinical-community linkages, SNAP/EBT acceptance, and healthy retailing. Trisha has worked in community food programming at the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank, was a research fellow at Food First, and has led participatory food access research and advocacy initiatives with restaurant workers and systems-impacted youth. She grew up in the South Asian diaspora, and sees a community-owned food system as a key indicator of political and economic self-sovereignty. 

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