Food and Justice Educator
Kandace Vallejo, a staff member at Austin, Texas’ Proyecto Defensa Laboral/Workers Defense Project, coordinates the organization’s Youth Empowerment Program, where she works with low-income, first-generation Latino youth and their families to educate, organize, and take action to create a more just and equitable food system for workers and consumers alike. Kandace began organizing in 2005 with the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA), an organization formed to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in their struggle to stop the low wages, human rights abuses, and modern-day slavery endemic to the United States agricultural industry. From 2006 to present, she has served on the board of directors for the SFA. In 2007, Kandace was one of three representatives from the US invited to participate in a four-month course focused on the political economy of food organized by Brazil’s Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (MST, in English, the “Landless Workers Movement”), a 25-year old agrarian reform organization. With these opportunities to cultivate new understandings about the way that food is grown, harvested, transported, bought, sold, and prepared, Kandace gained an analysis of how this impacts our environment and disproportionately disadvantages residents of the Global South and low-income communities everywhere. Today, Kandace is completing a Master’s in Education from UT-Austin and continues to organize in solidarity with those who are most impacted by social and economic inequality, working to put their voices at the forefront of movements to create long-term systemic change.