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REMAKING A MOVEMENT

2021 ANNUAL REPORT

A NOTE FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
anna mulè

Last year was a challenging year for the Slow Food network. With COVID still severely limiting in-person gatherings, and many volunteer leaders in transition with jobs and families, 2021 was a year of evaluation, new relationship building and asking tough questions. It was a year of remaking our movement.

My primary guiding question for last year was, “How do we continue to decentralize power, create collaborative and participatory models with the network, and center equity in everything we do?” After the public statements in support of racial justice in 2020, we are determined to make joy and justice a daily practice that embeds equity and access into all of our work.

Throughout this Annual Report, you will see that our chapters are also making joy + justice a daily practice in their communities. Five streams of activity flow together into a powerful and intersectional look at the Slow Food movement across the United States: Embracing racial equity and justice, nourishing cultural and biological diversity,  increasing access to food and nutrition, mobilizing people and communities, and advancing policies that transform food systems. 

Thank you for your partnership with Slow Food last year through your generous donations, your time and your knowledge! As we begin to emerge from the global pandemic, we invite you to reconnect with your local chapters, to recommit to joy + justice in your daily life, and to remake this movement with us.

Warmly,

Anna Mulè, Executive Director

EMBRACING RACIAL EQUITY AND JUSTICE

Slow Food USA is dedicated to the development of an equitable, just, and healthy local food system that truly works for all of us. We recognize that injustices are rooted in race, class and gender disparities and work to end oppression and white supremacy in food systems and beyond.

NATIONAL OFFICE ACTIONS IN 2021

SFUSA deepened its commitment to embracing racial justice and joy for all in 2021 through hiring an equity, inclusion and justice strategist and transforming our mission, vision and purpose statements to center the pursuit of joy and justice in our work.

SFUSA launched a campaign in September to welcome new members to the Slow Food table and articulate our position on food justice and equity through a series of essays.

A team of volunteer leaders and staff also overhauled the National Statute and developed a Code of Conduct that gives a baseline community standard for how we create safe spaces within our communities.

Slow Food Columbus hosted a lecture series in winter 2021 on equity, inclusion and justice called “Adaptation and Resilience: Food, Food Security, and Food Systems in and outside of central Ohio.”

Slow Food Minnesota produced a documentary focused on sharing the stories of people in the Twin Cities region who have historically been prevented from accessing arable land, been removed from or exploited in foodways and had intergenerational agricultural knowledge ignored or erased. The film focuses on these stories to reintroduce them into the mainstream cultural narrative about who grows our food.

Slow Food Portland hosted an International Women’s Day panel discussion that featured Native American farmers and seed savers.

Slow Food Prescott wrote an opening acknowledgement statement, connected with local Indigenous tribes and the Museum of Indigenous People, and partnered with an LGBTQ+ community organization.

NOURISHING CULTURAL AND BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

The amazing diversity of plants, animals and foods is preserved and enhanced within cultures and families, and so we put people and relationships at the core of our biodiversity work. Our aim is to create equity and access within Slow Food by building a network of trust, honor and respect, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s culinary traditions that have been intentionally co-opted, colonized and otherwise disrespected. 

    NATIONAL OFFICE ACTIONS IN 2021

    SFUSA deepened relationships with Slow Food Turtle Island Association (the Indigenous-led entity) through winning a grant to support Native American / American Indian farmers, and through an ongoing partnership with SFTIA and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) that culminated in a vibrant virtual event, Co-Producers Unite!

    In the fifth year of SFUSA’s Plant a Seed campaign, 250 growing kits containing Ark of Taste seeds were donated to school gardens, and 325 individual gardeners purchased kits for home use. Share a Seed piloted in Washington, D.C. and hosted community seed exchanges.

    SFUSA hosted its first Slow Seed Summit in March 2021. This six-day virtual symposium featured 55 speakers discussing seed sovereignty, preservation and other central topics in the world of seeds. 340 people attended the summit, which was reprised in spring 2022.

    The Ark of Taste national committee conducted a major review and update of entries, and collaboration with the Cooks’ Alliance began for a producers matrix.

    Slow Fish North America convened Slow Fish 2021, a virtual gathering of fishers and friends of our waters and foodways that featured 50 speakers across six days for 201 attendees. 

    Slow Food Charleston nourished a project to grow out the Lemon Cling Peach Project, an Ark of Taste heirloom peach, in partnership with the MUSC Urban Farm.

    Slow Food Denver hosted a seed saving event with Spirit of the Sun and Ekar farm, teaching the community about seed saving practices from Indigenous communities, and the importance of seed saving in our society to ensure biological diversity.

    Slow Food DC connected with mutual aid groups, farmers’ markets, and community gardens around the city as part of the Share a Seed program. The efforts helped collect extra seeds and garden supplies and redistribute them to others. 

    Slow Food Wallowas’ producer grant program has continuously grown over the past five years. They provided one grant in 2021 for $3,000 and then fundraised to create a $5,000 grant application released in November 2021.

    Slow Food East Bay continued a relationship with Asian Business Institute & Resource Center to introduce specialty produce from Hmong farmers to a broader range of people in the California Bay Area. 

    Slow Food Seattle arranged for planting, growing and purchase of seeds of the Makah Ozette Potato, an Ark of Taste product. The potato seeds were sold (without profit) to community growers and donated to Indigenous organizations and farmers.

    Increasing access to food and nutrition

    Slow Food USA chapters responded to families and communities facing economic burdens and food apartheid across the country. Access to local, affordable and healthy food is an ongoing issue that was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be one of the most critical issues facing our country. 

      Slow Food NYC harvested nearly 1,000 pounds of farm-fresh vegetables through their Urban Harvest Farm at Ujima and distributed it themselves and with partner organizations like Coretta Scott-King Senior Housing Facility and a mutual-aid fridge at Universe City.

      Slow Food North Shore (New Jersey) restored a garden at Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), a volunteer-based free clinic. Now, vegetables are given to clients and the garden is incorporated into their counseling on nutrition.

      Slow Food Lake Tahoe’s Food Bank Garden produced nearly 400 pounds of fresh, organic produce in 2021. Those vegetables are then distributed through local partner Sierra Community House.

      Slow Food Springfield (IL) partnered with local nonprofit Compass for Kids on a program called Meals That Matter, which worked with local restaurants to prepare meals for under-served families.

      Slow Food Upstate (Greenville, SC) provided Ark of Taste foods, recipes and stories to SNAP-Ed and Clemson Free Clinic clients.

      Educating, inspiring and mobilizing people

      We understand the world best when we hear, taste, see, and embrace the world around us. It is through this lens that we celebrate the joy and pleasure of connecting with and around food. Our approach to creating educational events, advocacy campaigns and training tools is rooted in relational learning, in which each of us is simultaneously student and teacher. We create intentional space in our in-person and virtual gatherings to learn from chefs, policy experts, historians, farmers, food professionals and storytellers.

          NATIONAL OFFICE ACTIONS IN 2021

          Our Slow Food Live series featured 19 panel discussions and workshops that engaged thousands of attendees and revealed the many facets of our movement toward good, clean and fair food for all.

          The Snail of Approval program in the US expanded from 16 individual chapter initiatives into a national network of 345 businesses, all displayed in an interactive map and governed by a unified set of criteria centered on sourcing, environmental impact, cultural connection, community involvement, staff support, and business values.

          Slow Books curated a network-wide read along of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass in the fall. The volunteer team hosted a facilitator training to help people lead their own reading groups, provided a discussion guide, and put together a virtual toolkit.

          Slow Food Greater Olympia partnered with The Evergreen State College to highlight the stories of past and present regional farmers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This event culminated in a virtual gathering where students trained by one of our members in the art of oral history read aloud the stories they wrote about these farmers.

          Lil’ Sprouts is Slow Food Denver’s K-5 enrichment program that teaches children the entire seed-to-plate process. They use a learner driven approach that inspires students to develop healthy, lifelong eating habits by making the connection between where food comes from and how it is prepared.

          Slow Food O’ahu sponsored and promoted foraging tours on the island. As an outside activity, this was one of the few events they felt comfortable hosting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

          Slow Food St. Louis started a virtual fundraising campaign called Slow Food U, a monthly virtual speaker series showcasing the work of local farmers, makers and chefs. 

          Advancing policies that transform food systems

          We must go beyond focusing on the role of individual choices, and advocate for the world we want to live in through collective action. Slow Food USA engages both the public and private sectors to discover how we can build a better future. We collaborate with other organizations and voices in order to defend those most adversely affected by the industrial food system. We activate our network to connect with legislators, corporations and communities to advocate for real, meaningful change.

              NATIONAL OFFICE ACTIONS IN 2021

              We collaborated with organizations across the food justice spectrum to host The People’s Kitchen Counter-Mobilization: Food System Take-Back, a half-day protest against the UN Food System Summit in September 2021. The virtual event garnered more than 250 attendees and has been viewed thousands of times.

              The Food and Farm Policy Working Group hosted four panel discussions via Slow Food Live that highlighted key legislation designed to make a big impact on food systems, including the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and the 2023 Farm Bill.

              Slow Food Memphis continues efforts to double the value of EBT dollars spent at the local farmers’ market. This lowers the barrier to fresh, local produce and goods for community members going through economic hardship.

              Through Slow Food Phoenix’s advocacy platform, they focus on healthy food in schools and continue their work with Blue Watermelon Project, Pinnacle Prevention and the AZ Food Action Plan.

              Slow Food Vegas advocated for Nevada Assembly Bill 138. This bill removed barriers to SNAP benefits for those convicted of drug offenses.

              by the numbers

              total members

              plant a seed kits donated to school gardens

              campus-based chapters

              chapter in-person events

              new members

              snail of approval awardees

              chapter partnerships

              chapter virtual events

              active chapters

              slow seed summit attendees

              chapter leaders and volunteers

              people impacted by chapter programs

              2021 financials

              Unaudited financials from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021. Hover over charts for more information.

              Total revenue: $942,228

              Donations: $353,119
              Membership: $186,129
              Corporate sponsorships: $31,724
              Events: $48,073
              Grants: $230,218
              Program Fees: $9,974
              Other: $82,991

              Total expenses: $586,137

              Programming: $433,403
              Administration: $82,541
              Fundraising: $70,193

              Note: Slow Food USA is the fiscal sponsor for the Anne Saxelby Legacy Fund, which raised $194,656 in 2021. The fund honors the legacy of cheesemonger and Slow Food friend Anne Saxelby.

              MEET OUR MEMBERS AND DONORS

              Colehour Bondera, member

              “Slow Food is a means to stand together and demonstrate that we are all in this Ark together and that we must pull our weight and support one another through the calmness and through the storms that happen over time. We must learn from the storms of the past about how to be more effective for the future. We must hold hands with our neighbors and share the responsibilities of maintaining our Ark.”

              Robert Tod Chubrich, Donor

              “I’ve been a longtime supporter of Slow Food USA because it shows us how our ecological and cultural heritage are inseparable and essential, and how good taste is the surest guide to sustainability and the key to conserving agricultural biodiversity. Slow Food’s insistence on the right to pleasure sets it apart from other organizations and inspires us all to create a fairer, more delicious world together.”

              Jileen Russell, Donor

              “I have been a Slow Food member since the early on; I began as a member in 2003. I have been to Terra Madre twice, actively involved in Slow Food Hawaii (island) and found the Slow Food to be a community of the most inspirational people I have ever been privileged to meet. When we gather with the mission to promote and insure good, clean and fair food for all, it becomes one of the most important convergences for the Mother Earth and the people who live on her. That is why I give my energy, time and money to Slow Food.”

              BOARD OF DIRECTORS
              AND STAFF

              The Slow Food USA national team with Board co-chairs at a November 2021 retreat in New York.

              We’re deeply grateful for the many contributions our board of directors and national office staff make to the national and international movement toward good, clean and fair food for all!

              Board of Directors

              Alessandro d’Ansembourg
              Ben Burkett
              Bilal Sarwari
              Ed Yowell
              Joel Smith
              Jon Schlegel
              Julie Shaffer
              Kate Krauss
              Kathryn Underwood
              Kevin Mitchell
              Laura Luciano
              Shelu Patel

              National office team

              Anna Mulè
              Brian Solem
              Dan Mueller
              Erin Kelly
              Felix Wai
              Giselle Kennedy Lord
              Lauren Ruotolo
              Maleka Russell
              Malia Guyer-Stevens
              Mara Welton
              Michelle DiMuzio
              Victoria Ojeda

              Joined in 2021
              Left in 2021