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Mesa Comunitaria/ Community Table

The “Community Table/Mesa Comunitaria” project was initiated in the summer of 2020 through a Neighbors for Neighbors COVID-19 Relief grant from CFECT from an emergency food assistance effort into a member-led, self-sustaining communal pantry and food processing collective for Latinx immigrant women and teens in Willimantic.

The Community Table/Mesa Comunitaria project both increases economic security, as it puts food on the table for immigrant households; as well as builds leadership and power, as it brings new, intergenerational voices to the table to organize themselves in order to generate and distribute local food resources.
Community Table/Mesa Comunitaria addresses the immediate impact and root causes of two inequities
in our food system in Willimantic that disproportionately impacts Latinx immigrant residents, and, regarding
food insecurity, fall disproportionately on the shoulders of women.
Inequitable distribution of power: Food assistance infrastructure and decision-making is driven by
funders and service providers, rather than constituents. While there are multiple food pantries in
Willimantic, there are barriers like documentation and administrative requirements, language barriers,
inconvenient hours, transportation, and lack of culturally-appropriate food options that make them inaccessible
and often dehumanizing for many Latinx immigrant women. This project shifts power, so that “recipients,” or
“constituents,” are leaders and decision-makers, and “providers” serve as allies, to gather resources and
remove barriers.
Inequitable access to resources: In the US, food is treated as a commodity, rather than a right. In order to
access healthy food, one must have access to employment that provides a living wage. However – and as we
have seen dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – employees in food service and the
informal economy are extremely vulnerable, without protections regarding wages, rights or benefits.
Immigrant community members are particularly vulnerable, and have limited access to employment
opportunities. La Mesa Comunitaria/ Comunity table builds self-resiliency among Latinx immigrant women and their families, as it connects them directly with – and gives them control over – food resources, reducing their dependence on
income to purchase them.

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