By RJ Isley, GreenStar Community Projects Board Member and GreenStar Co-op Employee

For many LGBTQ+ folx, June represents Pride Month.

To some, it’s a celebration of being out and proud, an opportunity to let your authentic self truly fly. For others, it’s a staunch reminder of the adversity many have always faced, particularly Trans People of Color — the originators of modern Pride in our society.

I find it to be a little bit of both parts.

But what does Pride have to do with GSCP, and why should I stick my Queer Politics into an organization mobilized towards greater food access?

A report released by UCLA Law School found that 29% of LGBTQ+ adults “experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.” LGBTQ+ people are facing disproportionate levels of food insecurity and higher participation in food assistance programs such as SNAP. Risk of food insecurity is especially high for “those raising children, a risk that persists despite possible differences in demographic characteristics between LGBT and non-LGBT individuals like gender, age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment.” The report cites data that suggests the likelihood of same-sex couples raising children receiving food stamps is twice as high as different-sex couples with children.

Like many families, I have not always had access to fresh, local, and organic foods like the ones available at GreenStar — a problem that extends into communities both local and national.

Ithaca offers a variety of services to our families in need, and I desire to strengthen and enhance those connections between the groups already working on these overlapping and crucial pieces of work.

In my time here at GreenStar, I’ve worked in our Grocery Department while also serving on a variety of committees. Currently I serve on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, where I try to bring my voice as a Queer Latinx staff member into conversations. I believe programs like our FLOWER discount allow an opportunity for better food access, but they require a deeper, continued commitment on GreenStar’s part in order to reach those who would most benefit. This is one of many reasons why I’ve made tackling the issue of food access a priority, and why I continue to search for ways to help build our co-op and community hand-in-hand!

I’ve joined GreenStar Community Projects’ Board of Directors in recent months, and am inspired by the consistent focus on and commitment to improving food access for children and families in our community. Food precariousness is something that affects families everywhere and across all backgrounds, and the opportunity to support youth in need creates a bridge to assist their families as well. Developing these programs and supporting our community isn’t just a piece of our cooperative principles, it’s also the right thing to do, and increasingly important as time continues and other resources wane. New struggles (such as government shutdowns) arise and affect families who may not have safety mechanisms in their lives, and in those instances we have the power to do great things to aid those in need!

I don’t ask (or expect!) people to see the world as I’ve experienced it, or to agree with many of my politics. We don’t all have to have to be best friends or lovers, but we do have to be neighbors, and we all gotta eat. Let’s work to make sure we’ve all got enough on our plates in our own community, so we can better serve each other and keep fighting all those other battles.

They aren’t going anywhere, and we should be properly fueled up for whatever challenges await us next.