A Surprising Calling to Bring Food Justice: Tosha Phonix

By Chelsea Blackmon

Tosha Phonix became an advocate by accident. Today, she works for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment in St. Louis, serving as the Food Justice Organizer for the Food and Farm Team and managing the Food Equity Advisory Board (FEAB), an engaged group of community champions from communities most impacted by food insecurity, who advocate on behalf of their peers to help promote a thriving, local food system. When she was 12, however, her goal was to simply find a career in culinary arts.

Several factors in her life led Phonix to become interested in food justice. When she was younger, she worked at a restaurant that grew its own produce; she was fascinated by the fact that the restaurant had “cut out the middleman”. She later joined the Nation of Islam and related deeply to its emphasis on self-reliance and sustainability. Lastly, she decided to introduce her then one-year-old son to food that was free of chemicals. Once she started working at a...

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A Red Circle Promotes Community in North St. Louis County

By Andrea Breaux, Healthy Healing Eats

Many African American residents of North St. Louis County, Missouri live in low-income households and neighborhoods that are food desertsno restaurants, grocery stores, or gardens. Development in this district has lagged for decades. When Erica Williams, a fighter for social justice causes, and an expert in economic development for vulnerable communities, became aware of what was happening, she started A Red Circle, a collaborative, community benefit organization “to stimulate the investment needed to revitalize North County.” 

While studying for a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration she read a paper that focused on pastors’ valuable influence on their congregations. “If a pastor gets behind eating healthy and exercising, that helps the congregation do the same,” she explains. Inspired by this, she sought and received the support of the 24:1 Clergy Coalition, led by Pastor E.G. Shields, who...

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