Rich Pirog Awarded Diversity & Multiculturalism Award
2018 Extension Diversity & Multiculturalism Award given to MSU Center for Regional Food Systems Director. The award is presented to individuals and teams who have made exceptional efforts in promoting inclusion in MSUE program content or delivery.
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems Director Rich Pirog was awarded Michigan State University Extension's (MSUE) 2018 Extension Diversity & Multiculturalism Award on October 16, 2018 at the MSUE Fall Extension Conference.
The Diversity and Multiculturalism Award is presented to individuals and teams who have made exceptional efforts in promoting inclusion in MSU Extension program content or delivery.
The award description printed in the program book read:
As a community-based education organization, MSU Extension has an opportunity - and obligation - to help facilitate positive change in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. One setting in which we can make a significant impact is community food systems. Enter Rich Pirog, director of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.
Under Rich's direction, diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the Center's efforts. He requires CRFS staff to include at least one professional development or programming item related to racial equity in their annual plans of work. Rich himself leads the annual update process for an annotated bibliography called Structural Racism Present in the U.S. Food System.
CRFS is a partner with the Michigan Good Food Fund and has secured significant funding for this $30 million public-private loan fund. The fund provides financing to good food enterprises working to increase access to affordable, healthy food in low-income and underserved communities in Michigan.
Rich and CRFS also pushed for the development of the multi-state Coming Together for Racial Understanding initiative that is supported by eXtension and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Michigan is one of the lead states for "Coming Together," which is designed to help prepare Extension professionals to facilitate civil community discussions around issues of racism. It was Richard's personal goal to include staff members from all areas of MSU Extension in this training.
Nationally, Rich and CRFS lead the Undoing Inequity in the Food System workgroup within the Local, Regional and Community Food Systems eXtension Community of Practice. Earlier in 2018, the workgroup hosted a webinar on how to get started with racial equity in food systems work. The group plans to sponsor similar educational opportunities in the future.