Celebrating Culture in the Midst of Food Apartheid
Food is a central part of all human cultures. It helps us connect with family, friends, and cultural histories. Over time each culture finds locally grown foods that support health and bring joy with consumption. When people migrate or are sent as slaves to far off lands they still hold memories of enjoying those foods. Some of those foods are brought to the new land. Culinary skills may need modification or decline. The food may become less accessible and more costly. Competition for their food dollars rise from food producers in their new homeland. Sometimes those food items are looked down upon by the dominant population. All of this has an impact on health and well-being.
I grew up in the rural racially segregated south. I have lived in the racially segregated Mattapan neighborhood of Boston for many years. I will share food related experiences and projects that celebrate local cultures and encourage good health in the midst of inequity that I define as food apartheid. The Boston projects will include work with the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, the Boston Organization of Nutritionists and Dietitians of Color, and the Edgewater Neighborhood Association.
Vivien received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Framingham State University, and a Master of Public Health degree from Boston University. She received an honorary Public Health Doctorate from Merrimack College in 2021. She is a registered dietitian and public health professional with extensive work in Boston’s communities. She is a founder and chair of the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, an organization that she is most proud of. She is a founder of the Boston Organization of Nutritionists and Dietitians of Color (BOND of Color). BOND of Color is a professional organization devoted to increasing the number of African American and Afro Caribbean nutritionists and dietitians and providing nutrition education in the community. Vivien coordinates the Kennedy Community Garden and Edgewater Neighborhood Association, both utilizing the passions of local residents to make the Edgewater neighborhood a wonderful place to live. She serves on the steering committee of Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, a statewide effort working towards a sustainable and equitable food system. Vivien has been a community activist throughout her life and gets the greatest joy from seeing the coming together of community members of all ages to strengthen relationships and use collective power to improve our village.