Organizing for Food Justice: Launching Oxfam America’s GROW Campaign

Will Fenton, SIT Graduate Institute


The planet produces enough food to feed everyone, yet at the end of 2010 there were approximately 950 million chronically hungry people in the world. Hunger is about power. The most vulnerable communities in this world are facing the denial of their rights by governments, international institutions, and a handful a powerful corporations. Many of those on the front lines of hunger and poverty are small-scale farmers that continue to be ignored and denied access to the necessary credit, land, technology, training, and institutional voice needed to be empowered as food producers. With food prices spiralling out of control, corporations and governments buying up dwindling land and water, and inefficient food aid policies that fail to mitigate shocks to the food system, poor communities are bearing the brunt of this new global food crisis.

Oxfam America is one of many organizations seeking to find lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and injustice. To begin to fix a broken international food system, Oxfam is launching a new campaign to address food justice in a resource-constrained world - the GROW Campaign. As part of my responsibilities in working with Oxfam America’s Organizing and Alliances unit, I developed an organizing plan for the public launch of the campaign. This capstone paper evaluates the strengths and limitations of that product, contextualizes it in Oxfam’s models of campaigning and organizing, and provides the reader with the appropriate background of recent advocacy and outreach related to the GROW Campaign. The organizing plan is predicated on five immediate policy changes in the US context that could have positive and lasting effects on the international food system. The paper includes an analysis of each of the five policy areas, framing the organizing plan in the context of GROW Campaign issues. The paper concludes with a set of insights and reflections on campaigning and organizing that may prove useful to future practitioners in the policy advocacy field.