During this uncertain time, FFAC wanted to take a moment to apprise you of both the measures we’re currently implementing as well as the direction we’re taking to ensure continued stability and ever-increasing impact, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FFAC is thriving and continuing to grow, both in scale and in our mission. Since 2014, when FFAC began educating people about the ecological and social justice hazards of factory farming, the organization has grown from one paid employee to fourteen, while our scope of programmatic activity has expanded from the first phase of humane education to mentoring activists and leading institutions towards meaningful change.
We believe this final point is vital and an aspect that, while long a part of FFAC’s work, we haven’t sufficiently emphasized. FFAC’s presentations remain some of the most up-to-date and effective in humane education — and perhaps the only to expressly connect factory farming’s devastating effects in realms as seemingly disparate as animal welfare, ecology, social justice, and public health and show how each is inextricable from the rest. We’re proud of the impact we’ve had and the movement-leading 88% of audience members who intend to adopt a more plant-based diet. But we understand that true, lasting impact requires more than an hour of classroom contact. That’s why we don’t see the presentations as ends in themselves. Instead, we see them as an initial lever into broader mobilization of activists and deeper impact through our complementary initiatives.
Our dedication to equity, access, and inclusion is another crucial aspect of our work. We intentionally speak to those, such as lower-income and communities of color, who are typically not exposed to the impacts of factory farming. To make this possible, we give the vast majority of our presentations to schools and other interested groups at no cost. To reach these groups both emotionally and intellectually, we meticulously vet and relentlessly update our information and strategy, carefully customizing our presentations to speak directly to our audiences’ interests and motivating them to include animal agriculture within their sphere of concern and to change their diets.
After seeing our presentations, many students want to take the next step and become activists themselves. Our internship program, founded in 2018, offers an opportunity for high school and college students to gain the knowledge, skills, connections, and confidence to become effective advocates within their own communities and future leaders of the movement.
Our presentations also create insider activists who can affect institutional practices. School administrators or company management who might not consider the requests of an outside group such as FFAC do listen when their students or employees demand change. Our Green Monday program has been effective in getting plant-based options into cafeterias and persuading municipalities to adopt green initiatives. We influence environmental conferences to endorse FFAC’s sustainable food pledge. And since we practice inclusivity as a core organizational value, FFAC regularly collaborates with other organizations, including women and minority-led organizations, to effect change.
As always, we continue to engage local communities by offering public advocacy training, organizing community events, participating in myriad interviews and expert panels, speaking in documentaries, presenting at school and community events, collaborating on student projects, tabling and leafleting at conferences and festivals, educating at dozens of summer music festivals, and offering whatever support we can in whichever ways it’s needed.
Even with all of the school closures, we’re finding ways, both new and old, to reach our audiences. Fortunately, we already have numerous resources for online learning. Our Hidden in Plain Bite video and accompanying worksheet and lessons have become an easy and popular assignment for teachers who are now figuring out what to offer their remote classes. We’re also offering engaging online presentations via Google Hangouts, Zoom, or whichever platform schools are using. If anyone you know might be able to make use of these resources, please spread the word!
While what’s happening around us now is unsettling, we still see plenty of reason for hope. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our supporters, who make all of our work possible, and invite you to join us in our efforts towards a world without factory farms. And we’re still just as dedicated to inspiring people to eat more compassionate, sustainable foods, empowering them to become agents of change themselves and creating a better world for all.
Monica Chen is the Executive Director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition.