Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Claire Halverson


The food system, under the capitalist political-economy, is causing massive food insecurity on a global scale due largely to corporate profit making. This research paper focuses on food insecurity within the United States and specifically on the community food security movement which is working to bring about food security on a local scale. Community food security exists when all community residents obtain a safe, culturally appropriate, nutritionally sound diet through an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable food system that promotes community self-reliance and social justice.

This research study looks at a case study of the Brattleboro area of Southeastern Vermont to see if the community food security movement is actually shifting the dynamics of food security within the capitalist system through its current activities. The research sought to answer two questions: Is the community food security movement truly changing the dynamics of food insecurity within the capitalist food system, or only making that system more tolerable? and How can the community food security movement shift the existing economic disparity and resulting food insecurity towards a more equitable distribution of food? Through the responses of 28 participants from five focus groups and two interviews from January to April 2009, the research identified the main barriers to food security in the area: lack of resources, lack of infrastructure, lack of understanding of community food security, lack of education, corporate profit-making, pride and stigma, among others. The participants had many insightful ideas for how the barriers can be removed so that there can be community food security for all.

The main conclusions from the research are first, that it is essential to frame food as a human right and implement policies and programs which work to bring about food as a human right. And second, the current activities of the community food security movement are an alternative to the profit making market system, but if true change is going to come about the movement must also engage in work that is oppositional to the current system. Two of the suggestions for what the movement can do to bring about equitable distribution of food are to educate everyone about food as a human right and engage people in discussions about how food as a human right can be achieved, and to connect to global movements for food sovereignty for a stronger movement which can more effectively challenge the capitalist political-economic food system.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Food Science


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