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Food justice on menu for county summit

What is food justice, and what does it look like in Multnomah County?

That's the topic of the day at the county's third annual Food Summit, set for Friday, Oct. 18, at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The keynote speaker is LaDonna Redmond, a Chicago community rights activist who began seeking out clean food — free from genetically modified organisms, grown locally and organically — when her son was born with allergies to dairy, shellfish, eggs and peanuts.

Redmond said finding "clean food" wasn’t always easy. “I live in a community where I can get a semiautomatic weapon quicker than I can get a tomato,” she said in a TedX talk in Manhattan early this year. “The public health issue of violence is connected to the public health issue of chronic diet-related diseases. … It’s about life and death. My community is about living or dying. You can die by the gun or you can die by the lack of proper food.”

Redmond is known for her work to get Chicago Public Schools to evaluate junk food, for launching urban agriculture projects, starting a community grocery store, and working on a federal farm policy to expand access to healthy food in low-income communities.

Her nonprofit, The Campaign for Food Justice Now, promotes social change by engaging and training people act as citizen leaders where they live.

Redmond will kick off the food summit at 9:30 a.m., other speakers will be local food justice leaders and advocates, food systems businesspeople and stakeholders. They’ll specifically address food justice in the schools; neighborhoods in action; food as healing; hunger and nutrition; and equity in access.

Organizers say exploring food justice is one of the summit’s goals. They also want people to network, and to drive action. They’ll celebrate work that’s been done since the first summit in 2010, when the 15-year Multnomah County Food Action Plan was created.

And they’ll update the action plan to address changes in the food system and its tie to chronic health conditions, food insecurity and hunger, climate change, economic justice, loss of farmland and the local economy.

To read the action plan and learn more, visit http://www.multnomahfood.org.