My name is Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura, and I am the new Research & Advocacy Manager at BFN. It is a privilege to join this organization at a momentous time.
You may be asking: “what role does research and advocacy play at a locally focused food nonprofit?” BFN proved in the past year that its model is not just viable, but scalable. Against the backdrop of disruption that grew stronger in 2020, actors all across the food system–activists, service providers, businesses, public servants and more–seek the spirit of innovation that BFN embodies. As a result, we are uniquely positioned to translate our day-to-day impact of feeding hungry people to the long-term goal of ending food insecurity in our community. Just as our services function through grassroots partnerships, our long-term mission will be realized through coordination with other change agents. My role focuses on understanding and engaging with this broader landscape of change in order to shift the food system within which we do our work.
Connecting the boots-on-the-ground with high-level strategy has been the throughline of my career. As a Fulbright Scholar in Japan, I assessed the effectiveness of agricultural reform policies by living and working with rural farming communities. While working for Bon Appétit Management Company, I engaged farmers, chefs and university students across California on signature sustainability issues. Lastly, I served as a career advisor for historically disenfranchised students at my alma mater, Oberlin College. From these experiences spring my commitment to community, sustainability, collaboration, innovation and equity–BFN’s core values.
These values are on full display, every day, in BFN’s operations. My incredible colleagues and our dedicated volunteers provide an array of services specifically designed for the given needs of our clients and partners. Amplifying our values, and the value we offer to our community, is my top priority in building an advocacy framework that sustains our organization for the journey ahead.
Looking back, we see how BFN dramatically grew and adapted its services to meet the ongoing demands arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, we envision a food secure future for all East Bay residents, and we are mobilizing to realize that vision.