February 27th was Occupy the Food System day and the Bonner Center and Guilford’s Slow Food group sponsored Nikki Henderson, Executive Director of West Oakland’s People’s Grocery. People’s Grocery is a health and wealth organization – their mission is to improve the health and economy of West Oakland through the local food system. They pursue positive community change and address social determinants of health through a food lens. They also work to ensure that community self-determination plays a large part in the revitalization of low-income neighborhoods.
As local interest in food justice grows, this was a wonderful opportunity for community members to hear from someone deeply involved in the work of food justice and closely connected to leaders such as Van Jones and Majora Carter.
Nikki began her work in social justice through the foster care system in Southern California, having been raised with seven older foster brothers. Through mentoring, tutoring, and directing Foster Youth Empowerment Workshops, she developed her passion for youth leadership development among communities of color. She later shifted into sustainability, developing course curriculum for the University of California system and advocating across the state for environmental justice and political ecology.
She has worked closely with Van Jones and Phaedra Ellis Lamkins at Green for All, fighting for a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. She was also a part of Slow Food USA in Brooklyn, NY where President Josh Viertel came to regard her as an “extraordinary leader with a vision for how food and urban farming can be tools of empowerment”. In 2009, Nikki co-founded Live Real, a national collaborative of food movement organizations committed to strengthening and expanding the youth food movement in the United States.
Nikki toured Greensboro viewing the statue of the Greensboro Four at A&T, the site of the 1979 Klan/Nazi shootings and the Edible Schoolyard at the Children’s museum. She also met with the Bonner Center’s Community Kitchen Project and with students involved in a Food Justice project by Principled Problem Solving. Nikki was very impressed by her tour of the Guilford College community garden and production farm
Over 50 Guilford College and Greensboro community members attended her evening talk and left deeply inspired.