Publication in: Fall 2022 Issue

Applying Theories of Communication to Food Justice in Western North Carolina
Addison Wright
Mass Communication
Faculty Mentor(s):
Laura Meadows
Abstract / Summary:
Food inequity is highly prevalent across Western North Carolina counties, an injustice exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By highlighting underlying disparities and causing supply chain shortages that created more reliance on local food systems, the COVID-19 pandemic produced a unique opportunity to advocate for the importance of maintaining more resilient local food systems. This requires collaboration and communication between community members and advocates. But how can effective communication and collaboration be found among the broad area of Western North Carolina that contains many different local areas? Through a partnership with the Food Justice Planning Initiative, community champions and members were surveyed and interviewed both online and in person in Western North Carolina counties from May 2022 to September 2022. Using Goffman's (1974) theory of communication studies on frame analysis, this research investigated how to frame issues, through what language and methods, to create an accessible and valued avenue of communication to facilitate more resilient collaborations around food justice. This study found that the internet can not be the sole outreach tool, but rather that a wide range of mixed methods and terminology are required to communicate and collaborate in Western North Carolina. Word of mouth, collaboration with local organizations and Facebook were the most agreed-upon avenues of communication. Email and other internet methods were contested depending on the area. Understanding communication, especially what words or vocabulary are well received in each area, is highly impactful in this region’s food systems work.
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