About EFOD

EFOD has emerged from decades of work by community-based food systems organizations to build community health, and create community economic development projects rooted in social justice.


Young girls eating cherries market 1

The EFOD Criteria

Equity & Justice First. Equity and justice are part of the mission; involved in other organizing, advocacy, or policy work – it’s not just about food. 

Place- and People-Based. Embedded in a community or regional network with strong identity; a history of work in its community. 

Uses Market-Based or Business Strategies. Develops new markets and enterprises; creates real economic opportunities. 

Community Leadership Development and Community Organizing. Board of Directors and top leadership is representative of the community, often people of color; work is by and for community members. 

Community Ownership. Builds community-member assets and equity; uses alternative economic structures and decision-making processes so community members can have ownership.

Our growing impact

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Catalyzing New Projects

In the pilot year of the EFOD Fund, 8 organizations were funded to create critical EFOD infrastructure in their communities. We received 60 LOI submissions, totaling over $10M of need for EFOD projects.

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Changing the Paradigm

Over 1,400 hours of practitioner thought leadership have resulted in seminal pieces of EFOD field research and case studies of success. EFOD work is not new, but we are coming together to change how food system enterprises are valued.

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Creating Wide Impact

We advised state and federal agriculture policymakers, and have crafted guidance for the community development finance industry. EFOD leadership understands the value of working from a systemic perspective.

“…We’re really addressing the question of power and how we shift power in communities so that agents have the capacity to exercise their agency and determine what happens in their own communities, including what happens with the economy in their community.

“And so many approaches to food system work are not rooted in this understanding of shifting power.”

─Malik Yakini, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

Follow the EFOD Timeline


Early Conversations

Dana Harvey (Founding Executive Director of West Oakland-based Mandela Partners, formerly Mandela MarketPlace) and Neelam Sharma (Executive Director of South Los Angeles-based Community Services Unlimited) engage in initial conversations about the need to generate understanding across the field about the work they are leading.

2011 - 2014

Building Network Power and Movement Capacity

Community organizers Dana Harvey, Neelam Sharma, Malik Yakini (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network) and D’Artagnan Scorza (Social Justice Learning Institute) come together for a first “Bay Area Meeting,” bringing together practitioners who begin referring to the shared dream of “equitable food-oriented development.”
2015 - 2016

Strengthening Narrative Power

EFOD practitioners focus on the EFOD vision, barriers, fundraising, growth, action, and next steps. A framing paper emerges.

Increasing Capacity and Gaining Institutional Power

We assemble the EFOD Collaborative and Steering Committee, develop an EFOD definition, analyze funding and financing needs and opportunities, and partner toward an emerging funding program. EFOD leaders participate in multiple convenings and build relationships with funders.
2018 - 2019

Expanding Access to Resources

EFOD launches a fund pilot with eight organizations receiving a share of over $1,000,000 in partnership with The Kresge Foundation. The eFOD Collaborative decides to pilot the first EFOD loan in 2021.
2020 - Present

EFOD on the Horizon

EFOD is growing from a small peer group to a grassroots movement seeking to build community power and bring deep, long-lasting change to the social, health, and economic conditions of local communities.

Widespread inequity and power imbalances across local food and community development projects made us do it.

Today, after years of community-led process and reflection, and building on decades of visionary community leadership, EFOD leads with a strong sense of its identity and principles.

Libertys Kitchen cooking