Food Justice Fact Sheet

University of New Hampshire professor Karen Spiller focuses her work on the intersection of food systems and racial equity. This resource is a brief introduction to these issues that may be helpful as a supporting resource for her #IntheKNOW Live Chat.


  • People of color are disproportionately affected by hunger, food insecurity, diet-related illness, and other food system issues. 
    • Only 8% of African Americans have a grocery store in their census tract. (1)
    • 24% of African Americans, 17% of Latinos, and 13% of Asian Americans do not own cars, making grocery shopping more time-consuming. (2)
    • Food stores in communities of color are often further away and have fewer healthy high quality options. (3)

  • The Food Justice movement works immediately to provide access to healthy food to all, and in the long-term to examine and change the root causes of food-related disparities (4)
  • Food Justice is loosely defined as the “holistic and structural view of the food system that sees healthy food as a human right and addresses structural barriers to that right.” It arose as a critique of the environmental justice movement of the 1980s that began to prioritize wilderness and scenery over human communities vulnerable to pollution. (4)
  • The United States’ Food Justice movement is innately related to the legacies and present day manifestations of settler colonialism. The food system in the United States was built largely by controlling groups of people (indigenous people, Mexican-Americans, enslaved Africans, and more), and working towards justice necessitates interrogating the race-based policies of the food system and their present day implications. (4)
  • Today’s Food Justice movement is led by Black-led food justice organizations, indigenous communities, and immigrants and migrants from South and Central America. (4)


Additional readings on Food Justice can be found at Setting an Anti-Racist TableFood Solutions New England , and this article in  New York Times entitled To Be Hungry in the Middle of a Pandemic. 



1)  “The Grocery Gap, Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters.” Policy Link. 2010.

2) “Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System.” Center for Social Inclusion. 2014.

3)  “The Grocery Gap, Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters.” Policy Link. 2010.

4) "Food Justice." FoodPrint. 2020.