Equitable Giving Circle Isn’t Just Feeding Black And Brown Portlanders. It’s Fighting For Reparations.


The organization delivers CSAs to Black and Brown Portlanders, provides mortgage and rent relief grants to BIPOC Portlanders, and hosts a weekly pantry event

Equitable Giving Circle CSA Director DeeDee Hopkins replenishes food supplies at the Thursday food pantry for BIPOC community members, surrounded by tables of food Equitable Giving Circle CSA director DeeDee Hopkins Molly J. Smith/EPDX

In a former Northeast Portland event space, tables have been cleared out in favor of produce: Stacked boxes labeled “Pablo Munoz Farms” and filled with lettuce, peppers, and rainbow chard sit on the white counter, where DeeDee Hopkins, Equitable Giving Circle’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) director, yanks bottles of olive oil and ground turkey out of paper bags. On the patio where people used to host cocktail hours, tables lined with gray tablecloths hold cans of peas, cheese, faux meat, and white bowls filled with apples, potatoes, and citrus. A woman wheels boxes of chard to the back of her aqua-colored car to make deliveries around the city. Among the tables, visitors browse through displays of Aardvark hot sauce bottles and bags of Heart coffee.

“If you haven’t tried Aardvark sauce, you have to try it,” Lillian Green, Equitable Giving Circle’s housing director, says to a visitor. “You know, we have a filet of salmon in the back if you’d like some.”

As Green re-enters the building to retrieve the fish, Hopkins brings a purple-hued seedling to a woman outside examining the produce. “Isn’t that beautiful, the bok choy?” Hopkins says.

Green and Hopkins are running the Equitable Giving Circle weekly pantry, a marketplace where BIPOC Portlanders can pick out groceries, plants, and toiletries to take home for free. The market, which has relocated to the Cafe Reina space on MLK and Alberta, is a barrier-free pantry, which means people who show up don’t have to prove they make below a certain income threshold, don’t need to show an ID, or have an address; the market is open to any BIPOC Portlanders. And Equitable Giving Circle’s pantries aren’t distributing salvaged food; the nonprofit is buying high-end, fresh produce and products at full price — quite deliberately — to support Black, Brown, and Indigenous producers and provide BIPOC Portlanders with the food they deserve to eat.

“We’re in the foodie capital of the world, when it comes to sauces, fruits, vegetables, meat-based alternatives,” Green says. “There’s this African proverb, ‘You’re not truly giving by giving from your last’ … We are asking people to divorce themselves from the idea that these items are ‘too good.’”

Equitable Giving Circle, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded on the idea of not just alleviating food insecurity; executive director AJ McCreary wanted to instead build a closed-loop that supported the larger BIPOC community: People would donate goods or money to the group, and that money would be used to buy from BIPOC-owned farms and purveyors. Then, those goods would be given for free to the BIPOC community, either in the form of CSA boxes filled with fresh Oregon vegetables and groceries, home deliveries, or markets like the barrier-free pantry.

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Written by Nicole


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