Food Sovereignty Stories is a series of videos from social movements in the United States working towards a more just, sovereign, and sustainable food system. The first film focuses on food sovereignty and justice for farm workers.
For Brenda Bentley, an organizer with Community to Community Development (C2C), a grassroots organization fighting for food justice and migrant justice in Bellingham, Washington, food sovereignty is inseparable from immigrant rights.
“Food sovereignty in Bellingham for me has been trying to get a sanctuary ordinance for our undocumented community,” Brenda said outside Bellingham City Hall after a demonstration calling on lawmakers to act. “People don’t feel safe here.”
When Brenda shared her thoughts in October 2018, C2C had been organizing weekly “Dignity Vigils” outside City Hall for more than a year and a half to call for protections for undocumented people against detention and deportation. The organization has worked closely with farmworkers over the years to fight for fair wages, safe working conditions, and increased self-determination for farmworkers.
Brenda stressed that food sovereignty must start at the foundation of the food system with justice for the farmworkers who plant, cultivate, and harvest food.
“Food sovereignty for me, looking at it from that perspective, is people in the fields being comfortable to venture out to buy food, which they don’t. People feeling safe enough to come into town, which they don’t. People just being able to live without fear, to be able to afford the food that they grow, and they don’t,” she said. “A lot of our farmworkers at least in this county go to the food bank, and that’s disgusting.”
“For me, food sovereignty is justice for farmworkers, fair wages, a pathway to citizenship, a reasonable life, a future for their children—all the things that we want for ourselves and our neighbors, for everyone,” she concluded.
As C2C executive director Rosalinda Guillén put it, “everything circles around food,” and food sovereignty is part of “fighting for justice in every way that we know how.”