Chowgirls is committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion among our staff, leadership, vendors, partners, clients, and community. We have a lot to do in the fight for justice, safety, change, and the elimination of racism. We acknowledge our privilege as a white-owned business and know that with this privilege comes great responsibility. We take that responsibility seriously.
As we prepare community meals for Minnesota Central Kitchen and catered food for events, we’re continuously seeking to expand our efforts toward outreach and inclusion. We pledge to:
- Use our platform to amplify the voices and work of Black, Indigenous, Asian American, and People of Color.
- Share our resources.
- Offer people access to essential food.
- Advocate for change to make our community one in which everyone feels valued and safe.
We recognize this work is ongoing, and we’re committed to staying the course. Read on to learn more about our approach.
In a commitment to our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Chowgirls created Juntos in the summer of 2020. Juntos, which means “together” in Spanish, is a team of five Chowgirls inter-departmental employees representing a variety of life experiences. The group serves to guide our DEI initiatives both internally and externally.
Juntos recognizes that a mission statement is just the beginning, and the important work requires actionable strategies and input from the larger community. With tangible progress in mind, Juntos has identified six DEI strategic priorities for Chowgirls: Hiring, Product Sourcing, Staff Resources, Expanding Access to Chowgirls Catering, Community Outreach, and Sustainability.
Working directly with Chowgirls staff and leadership, Juntos advises, implements, and oversees these priorities. We’ll continue to manage the gathering of resources and information, work with the appropriate departments, and seek out expert advice on best practices. We know that these priorities will be better addressed with input from members outside the Chowgirls community.
Initiatives within these strategic priorities include:
- BIPOC Patronage: We will patronize businesses and organizations that are owned by, run by, and serve People of Color.
- Food Justice: We will expand access to food through our own work, educate ourselves and others on how systemic racism has impacted BIPOC farmers, and advocate for equality within food and agriculture systems.
- Reparations: We will dedicate a portion of our donation budget to Reparations, offering financial relief for Communities of Color. Reparations will be available as discounts on events and merchandise, donation of food, supplies, or equipment, and sponsorship of events.
- Human Rights: We will provide a supportive, inclusive environment within our own workplace. Furthermore, we’ll partner with vendors that hold socially responsible standards for the treatment of their employees.
Chowgirls strives to provide a welcoming, inclusive workplace. We recognize we have a lot of work to do as a company to better reflect the diversity of the Twin Cities in our staff, and we’re committed to recruiting and retaining a more diverse workforce. We’ve expanded our network to connect with organizations that offer equitable internship experiences and job fairs. Juntos is also looking for more inclusive avenues for job postings. If you’re familiar with an inclusive platform for job recruitment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re also aware that research shows that historically underrepresented groups are less likely to apply for jobs when they don’t believe they meet all of the criteria. For those who may be hesitant to submit an application, we’ve added a note to our job-posting page encouraging people to apply regardless of their specific experience.
Chowgirls uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and opts for organic products whenever possible. We build strong relationships with our vendors and use our purchasing power in a way that aligns with our values of community and sustainability. As we’ve become more aware of inequities in agriculture and business due to structural racism that has included slavery, land theft, and discriminatory laws and lending practices we’re committed to expanding our equitable sourcing to ensure that we’re buying from more vendors of color.
“In other words, despite greater diversity in the U.S. population overall and seeming progress in other areas of racial equity, farming in this country appears to be as segregated as it was a century ago. Inequity is part of American farming history, with few exceptions.”
Megan Horst, “How Racism Has Shaped the American Farming Landscape,” The Eater, January 25, 2019
To guide our goals to diversify our vendor pool, Juntos is auditing Chowgirls current product sourcing to ensure our vendors share our equity standards. If you know of any great BIPOC businesses you’d like us to consider for sourcing ingredients and supplies, please share with us at email@example.com
Chowgirls is continually looking at ways to provide a supportive work environment for our staff. In December 2020, we engaged YWCA Minneapolis to perform inclusivity assessments for our company and individuals, including management and all Chowgirls headquarters staff. This process and reflection gave Juntos an idea of our team’s intercultural competency, and helped us design a roadmap for improvement.
Realizing the need for protocol more elaborate than the anti-racism statement in our employee handbook, our DEI work launched with the creation of a comprehensive Anti-Racism Policy. This policy has been shared with all staff and is now a section of the on-boarding packet that new staff members review and sign upon joining our team.
Juntos is working on a series of ongoing Chowgirls community-building sessions and staff DEI training. We’re developing resources for coping with stress and processing heavy news. Juntos has also set up a staff resource center at HQ that includes a public computer for checking email, an anonymous suggestion box, and staff newsletters and other communications, printed in multiple languages.
Expanding Access To Chowgirls Catering
Food justice is racial justice. We acknowledge that in the US, Communities of Color have historically faced many barriers to accessing fresh, nutritious local foods
“… discrimination and violence against African-American farmers has led to their decline from 14 percent of all growers in 1920 to less than 2 percent today, with a corresponding loss of over 14 million acres of land. Further, Black communities suffer disproportionately from illnesses related to lack of access to fresh food and healthy natural ecosystems.”
Leah Pennington, Farming While Black
We’re committed to working towards solutions.
At the onset of the pandemic, Chowgirls became a founding partner of Minnesota Central Kitchen (MCK), preparing free meals for neighbors in need of hunger relief. We’re dedicated to ongoing community food production as part of our long-term business plan. This meaningful work has illuminated the need for ethnically appropriate food choices. Now more than ever before, we’re committed to preparing culturally accommodating fare for MCK as well as our catering clients. We’re open to creating new menu items and making traditional family recipes, and we’ll continue to partner with local BIPOC farmers and food producers to ensure authenticity in our offerings.
To make our catering more accessible, we’ve created a Reparations program to offer financial relief for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Reparations will be available as discounts on events and merchandise, donations of food, supplies, or equipment, and event sponsorships. To participate in the program, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether celebrating at an event or sharing a simple family meal, we believe everyone deserves good food that suits their tastes and values.
Chowgirls has taken steps to expand our community outreach efforts among BIPOC-owned businesses and organizations. We give generously whenever we can, leveraging food donations and volunteerism in ways that serve historically underprivileged and underserved communities. We have allocated a specific portion of our 2021 donation budget to BIPOC organizations, with food equity as the focus, and we’re making plans to expand upon this structure.
In 2021, we’ve also prioritized using our newsletter and social media platforms to share and amplify the work of local BIPOC organizations, businesses, and activists on a consistent basis, not just in response to racist incidents. Chowgirls will use these platforms to highlight community celebrations and events that engage in and teach cultural history. We will challenge the ways holidays are viewed and celebrated by dominant cultures and invite others to learn more about BIPOC traditions. We will be inclusive, sensitive, and thoughtful in our content across all platforms.
To give back to the community, Chowgirls has traditionally offered fun and engaging quarterly volunteer opportunities focusing on programs that support women, children, arts, hunger relief, and sustainability. Moving forward, we’re dedicated to bringing volunteerism specifically to BIPOC organizations working within these parameters — focusing on solving food inequity issues in our community.
At Chowgirls, we pride ourselves in leading the way in sustainable solutions. We’re a women-owned, values-driven company crafting quality food while respecting people and the planet via ethical sourcing, food rescue, and waste reduction. We understand that environmental and racial justice are deeply connected. We acknowledge that Communities of Color often bear the brunt of climate change and consumer waste’s global effects, and are less likely to have access to healthy food.
To ensure that we’re considering the economic prosperity and wellness of BIPOC in our advocacy for environmental stewardship, we’re examining the inclusivity of our sustainability practices and our communication, both internal and external. We will take a holistic approach when thinking about the definition of sustainable food, recognizing the importance of the human rights of the people who grew or produced it. Everyone deserves nutritious food, a healthy planet, and a bright future. We’re committed to doing our part.
We recognize that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are multifaceted, and that we need to address them holistically. In this way, we can better engage and support all people, particularly those who have been historically marginalized and underrepresented. Below, check out some ways to learn, listen, and support BIPOC in our community and world. If there is a resource you would like to see here, please reach out to email@example.com and we will get back to you to learn more.
Eat Black Owned
We Buy Black
Chowgirls Anti-Racism Policy
How You Can Help Your Community
Read: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Listen: 1619 by The New York Times
Donate: Du Nord Riot Recovery Fund
Show up: Twin Cities Aid Distribution Locations
Support: Breaking Bread