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Racial Harm at National Farm to School: Poor Handling Continues

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Community Hunger Solutions has joined a group of Wisconsin Farm to School partners in putting pressure on National Farm to School to handle this situation appropriately. These partners include Rooted and Kids Forward with support from UW-Extension.

After NFSN's internal "investigation" (which was conducted by the HR department at fiscal sponsor, Tides Foundation, the HR department that was in charge of managing the myriad racial discrimination complaints being lodged against Helen Dombalis throughout her service at NFSN - the HR department that was complicit in the continuation of racial trauma at NFSN throughout this period of time) unsurprisingly determined that, although Ms. Parker experienced racial 'microaggressions' during her time employed with NFSN, these microaggressions didn't cause any quantifiable affect on Ms. Parker's employment, ability to do her job, opportunities for promotion, etc.


Just this week, National Farm to School released a Request for Proposal for a racial equity firm (correction/equity experienced Systems Consultant) to conduct a systems analysis. While the systems analysis is obviously sorely needed, putting out a RFP only puts undue burden on consulting firms by forcing them to use valuable resources to compete for a single job that only one firm will ultimately be awarded. (Sounds a little like the broken model under which grassroots nonprofits must struggle, no?) Further, NFSN (an organization far better funded than most of the firms who would choose to throw their hat in the ring) minimizes their own costs. This model only continues the system of harm that NFSN claims to be trying to remedy. Upon seeing the RFP, CHS immediately replied to NFSN and the Advisory Board by linking this article on the subject.

(update: Apr 25th): the position is for a Systems Consultant and unrelated to NFSN's response to Ms. Parker. NFSN has hired an Equity Consultant and expects the report to be complete by the end of July.

This model only continues the system of harm that NFSN claims to be trying to remedy.

Based on conversations with Ms. Parker and our own assessment of the situation, Community Hunger Solutions has compiled the following list of actions that NFSN must take to begin to make amends for the harm they've caused:

- Immediate halt to all racial equity work and any claims of performing that work until a complete systems overhaul is done

- Immediate removal from NFSN’s archives all work done by women of Color while they experienced racial trauma at NFSN; returning said work to its original authors

- Complete removal of Helen Dombalis due to her consistent track record of racial harm against Black women subordinates

- Removal of HR employees from Tides Foundation who were aware of the consistent allegations of racial harm against Helen and failed to act (Ashley Bastinelli and Moreen Middleton)

- Public apology from Tides Foundation for their awareness of and for fostering a culture where their employees are complacent in such racial harm (update, Apr 25th): Leadership at Tides Foundation may not have been aware of the mishandling of HR reports. If this is the case, Tides is asked to fire offending employees immediately.

- Release of all HR reports (with reporter’s and victim’s names redacted) filed with Tides Foundation’s HR department during Helen’s tenure

- Transparency in the ongoing equity systems analysis (who is funding, who is performing, what is their track record?)

- Reparations to all employees of Color who worked under Helen

CHS will continue to coordinate with our partners to place pressure on NFSN.

Edited for errors and additional information on April 25th, 2022. Please see a complete explanation of these edits here.

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