Welcoming Emily Chiara, our new Community Engagement Coordinator!

Dear Amherst Food Co-op member-owners, supporters, and greater Amherst community,

I am thrilled to be working alongside you as the Co-op’s Community Engagement Coordinator! Growing up in western Mass. and working to promote sustainable food systems for years, I know how special this community is and the capacity we have to create change.

My passion for food justice has led me to work with a variety of non-profit organizations, farms, and educational communities in the Pioneer Valley, Arkansas, North Carolina, as well as India and Guatemala. I recently completed a Masters Degree in Sustainability Science from UMass, where I focused on the power of community institutions to support resilient and just food systems. My work remains rooted in a commitment towards building a local food system that enhances the well-being of our environment, is accessible and affordable to all, honors cultural diversity, and serves as a catalyst for racial healing.

I’m proud to have grown up in this community, in what many consider to be the epicenter of the local food movement. The landscapes of this valley and the area’s historic commitment to social justice have shaped who I am today. I do fully recognize that being a white, middle class, educated woman has awarded me privileges that others from our community have been systematically excluded from. I am concerned that our efforts to build a robust local food system have not always recognized the contributions of indigenous communities and people of color; and that it remains financially out of reach for far too many.

In an area of food abundance, it may seem uncertain what sets the Amherst Food Co-op apart. I believe it is our commitment to food justice and inclusion. We are collectively working to build a different kind of food system where we recognize and celebrate the diversity of our community; where we acknowledge the shortcomings and inaccessibility of the local food movement and constantly strive to improve it; where the desires and needs of underrepresented groups are included and upheld in our governance; where the success of our local economy is shared and area food producers are uplifted; where workers are given a fair living wage and are honored as equal decision-makers in the success of the co-op; and where the community has a space to gather, learn, and share ideas.  

I look forward to working alongside you, listening to your experiences, ideas, and concerns, and supporting an all together different Co-op. Please feel free to reach out with any comments and questions at community@commonsharefood.coop. Stay tuned to learn how you can get involved in volunteer opportunities and Co-op events.


Pronouns: she, her, hers