*The Black Church has no rival when it comes to institutions with a track record of sustainability in Black America. Since as far back as 1794, with the founding of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the "hush harbors" which preceded it where enslaved Africans would gather in secret to worship, Black congregations have endured and survived under the most harsh circumstances.
In fact, Black Churches have thrived. From mutual aid societies to institutions of higher learning, nursing homes, medical clinics, banks, credit unions, homeless shelters, and scholarship programs - the Black Church has a legacy of birthing lasting institutions which meet the spiritual and social needs of its members. In addition, the Black Church is the one place where Black communities are empowered with enough autonomy to lead in the direction of their own affairs - a fact that is most helpful when it comes to addressing the issue of food insecurity.
The African American community is disproportionately hampered by lack of access to healthy food. The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health reported in 2015 that 34% of African Americans in Baltimore live in a food desert. Similar statistics can be found in other majority-Black cities across the country as well. In communities that have been crippled by poor public policy, economic inequities, struggling schools, and corporate divestment, not having access to quality food only compounds already strained environments.
Within many of these neighborhoods, the last meaningful institution standing is the Black Church. Whether a mega-congregation or a storefront, the Black Church remains in many of the most impoverished neighborhoods as a beacon of hope and avenue to opportunity. Linking Black Farmers with these Black Churches makes sense. Pipelining fresh produce grown by Black farmers directly to the sanctuaries of Black Churches is more than a lifeline - it is a mutually beneficial partnership that economically supports food growers, improves health outcomes, encourages transfers of vital cultural information, and strengthens the fabric of community which improves the quality of life for residents.
*While it is technically a misnomer to use the term "The Black Church" because of clear distinctions between churches and denominations, we use it here to highlight the shared characteristics of African American congregations and the unity of purpose in service to Black communities as social, cultural, political, and economic bastions of support and identity.