As the new Food Justice Coordinator here at RBAC, it is with great honor to be given the space to share this work as we wrap up 2021! My name is Nurhaliza, South Seattle bred and Skyway raised. As an immigrant and daughter of refugees, my connection to food is a matter of not only survival but heritage, culture, community.
My road to food justice has been an expansive one that truly began during the onset of the pandemic. As two years into this work approaches, I reflect on how it has evolved into beautiful stories of living out internal and collective purpose. Food justice is a real and intrinsic capacity that we have to liberate our communities and transform the systems around us at all intersections.
I began this work through the focus of supporting small minority-owned businesses impacted by the pandemic to then thinking about how to integrate young people for this to be sustained over time. I thought about how many youth like me were raised in the era of social media and technology, and also grew up in their families’ restaurants and storefronts, who just need a platform to jump off from to develop intergenerational opportunities for their communities and themselves.
Previous to this capacity with RBAC, I have had the privilege of supporting a Restaurants, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability work study cohort for Upward Bound Oakland high school students. This then led me to the Road Map Project where I found myself honoring the work of food justice pushed forth by local community members and organizations here in South King County.
Now with the Rainier Beach Action Coalition, I get to actively support young people, local farmers, community members, and leaders through the Farm Stand, Beach Fresh, and the Food Innovation Center amongst other programs. Recently, the Farm Stand team gathered to clear out the garden beds adjacent to our office for the cold winter months! We harvested the last of carrots, sweet potatoes, and multicolored potatoes and bonded over fresh curry chicken samosas made by my mom and renowned Chef Salima.
Through this passion for food and justice, I developed skills in research, content creation, business, technology, and writing. I have been learning what practice looks and feels like through community nourishment, advocacy, and education. I continue to tug on how food justice can help money, land, and people remain in and sustain our communities. My commitment to this in 2022 is to never stop asking questions and embracing the diversity of what change and impact can look like.