One silver lining to come out of the past year have been new initiatives that directly impact local communities, like the Black Food Collaborative. It was launched last summer to celebrate Black food culture across the county, and to financially support community-based food systems affected by COVID-19, systemic racism, climate change, and other crises that prevent safe and reliable access to nutritious food.
Unlike traditional (and temporary) restaurant weeks that include only brick-and-mortar restaurants, “The Black Food Collaborative reaches across foodways to include growers, cottage-food producers, food trucks, pop-up shops, and more,” says co-lead Taylor Steele. “The end result is a comprehensive and collaborative network for Black-led food initiatives throughout the region. Our long-term goal is to create a Black food business incubator and culinary and arts district under a 501(c)3 exemption.”
Their flagship project, The Black Food Experience, will launch the collaborative and run through February, coinciding with Black History Month. It highlights participating Black food professionals through media promotion, special events, a dedicated local food and drink directory, and more.
Participants come from all over, including San Diego’s only Black-owned brewery, Chula Vista Brewery, as well as Bowlegged BBQ in Mount Hope, Bliss Tea & Treats in Oceanside, Flavors of East Africa in North Park, and many others. With support from Slow Food Urban San Diego and TakeIn, the collaborative’s organizers hope to utilize nonprofit benefits to continue their endeavors in ongoing initiatives, including an educational and community engagement element that will celebrate Black food pioneers like Diane Moss, managing director of Project New Village, a nonprofit based in Southeast San Diego that aims to increase social wellness.
By centralizing resources for Black-led food and drink businesses, as well as cultivating awareness of them for people who might not yet be familiar with them, the collaborative hopes to create an easy way for San Diegans to tap into the communities around them and support them even after Black History Month comes to an end.
Businesses interested in participating in The Black Food Experience 2021 can register online for free, and donations are also accepted. People interested in keeping up with the initiative can follow @sdblackfoodexp on Instagram for the latest news.
Beth Demmon is a freelance writer, journalist, and BJCP beer judge from San Diego. She received the North American Guild of Beer Writers 2019 Diversity in Beer Writing grant and is the beer columnist at San Diego Magazine.