Session 2 – Food Justice + Asset-Based Community Development


  • In the plenary session, we will explore Food Justice and Asset-Based Community Development in framing our work with communities in LFS 350, and the food system more broadly.
  • In tutorial rooms, you will meet your group, complete a team charter, contact your community partner, and prepare for next week's Flexible Learning session.


After completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Articulate the principles of Asset-based Community Development (ABCD) and Food Justice
  • Establish terms of reference for group work through developing a team charter
  • Identify and articulate elements of professional conduct to prepare for engaging with community

Key Terms + Concepts

  • Food Justice
  • Asset-Based Community Development

Required Readings + Resources

  • Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(5), 474–486. Retrieved through Canvas or the UBC Library Website.
  • Allen, P. (2008). Mining for justice in the food system: perceptions, practices, and possibilities. Agriculture and Human Values, 25(2), 157–161. Retrieved through Canvas or the UBC Library Website.

Food Justice

As a central tenet of human rights, the right to food was formally recognized by the United Nations in 1948 through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, achieving global food security and ensuring access to healthy, adequate, culturally appropriate food produced in an ecologically regenerative and socially just manner remains one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. Essentially, we still have not answered the question, "What would it take for us ALL to eat well?" Food Justice represents "a transformation of the current food system, including but not limited to eliminating disparities and inequities" that constrain food choices and access to good food for all (Gottlieb and Joshi, 2010: ix). Through adopting a food justice lens, we hope to begin the process of seeing the constraints that exist in society as we work towards collectively addressing obstacles in the food system. As future professionals within the food system, your work will embed you in the social and political contexts that impact individuals' and communities' ability to address food security issues. Throughout the term, we will analyze and reflect on the structural causes of food access inequity and patterns of hegemony, ethnocentrism, ahistoricism, depoliticization, salvationism, uncomplicated solutions, and paternalism (de Oliveira, 2012) that permeate the food system and society broadly (Allen, FitzSimmons, Goodman, & Warner, 2003; Born & Purcell, 2006; Levkoe, 2011).

As proposed by Cadieux and Slocum (2015, p. 13), we will consider four characteristics and principles of food justice.

  1. Acknowledging and confronting historical, collective social trauma and persistent race, gender, and class inequalities.
  2. Designing exchange mechanisms that build communal reliance and control
  3. Creating innovative ways to control, use, share, own, manage and conceive of land, and ecologies in general, that place them outside the speculative market and the rationale of extraction
  4. Pursuing labor relations that guarantee a minimum income and are neither alienating nor dependent on (unpaid) social reproduction by women

Asset-based Community Development (ABCD)

In lecture and tutorial, we will build on the key themes in this week's readings to discuss connections between community food security, ABCD, food justice, and your community-based projects. Keep in mind the key themes and connections as you develop your team charter and prepare to engage with community.

Often, community development work is framed through a deficit-based approach. Issues are conceptualized through taking an inventory of what is missing or lacking in community rather than focusing on assets that already exist. An asset-based approach recognizes and mobilizes the unique capacities and skills in a community. Here are a few of the guiding principles of ABCD:

  • Everyone has something to contribute
  • Relationships matter; they build community
  • Citizens of the community, rather than external experts, are at the centre of development
  • Leadership is distributed throughout the community (remember the Social Change Model of Leadership?)
  • Meaningful engagement occurs through dialogue and active listening among community members
  • Institutions exist to serve the community

Here is a short video describing key principles of Asset-based Community Development.


  • Allen, P., Fitz-Simmons, M., Goodman, M., & Warner, K. (2003). Shifting plates in the agrifood landscape: the tectonics of alternative agrifood initiatives in California. Journal of Rural Studies, 19(1), 61–75.
  • Born, B., & Purcell, M. (2006). Avoiding the Local Trap Scale and Food Systems in Planning Research. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 26(2), 195–207.
  • Cadieux, K. V., & Slocum, R. (2015). What does it mean to do food justice? Journal of Political Ecology, 22, 1-26.
  • de Oliveira, V. (2012). Editor’s preface “HEADS UP.” Critical Literacy: Theories & Practices, 6(1), 1–3.
  • Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food Justice. MIT Press.
  • Levkoe, C. Z. (2011). Towards a transformative food politics. Local Environment, 16(7), 687–705.

Tutorial Session

In your tutorial session, your TA will guide you through the following:

  • Developing terms of reference for group work through a team charter
  • How to prepare for engaging with community in a professional manner

Terms of Reference

  • Retrieve the Team Charter template from Canvas

Professional Engagement

First impressions are important. In your professional career, you will be judged by how you present yourself, beginning with your resume, interview, first day at work, first group meeting, first meeting with clients, etc. One things is certain: you will leave an impression. So how do you control how others perceive you? Ultimately, we will never be able to fully control the outcome, but we can have influence.

Here are a few resources to help you prepare for your first meeting. Use the themes in these resources to start a discussion with your group as to how the group wants to be perceived.

Additional Material

Previous Group Reflection

  • This previous blog posting from a former LFS 350 group will give you insight into the process you are beginning, from the perspective of those at the end.

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