Fighting Trump, One Delicious Meal at a Time | Civil Eats

Fighting Trump, One Delicious Meal at a Time

An informal group of women of color has combined their skills—from baking to political organizing—to educate people about effectively fighting Trump and his policies.

This article originally appeared on Bay Area Bites.

Last year, a group of women started meeting in San Francisco. It was an informal group, composed of women of color who worked in the San Francisco food world at places like Tartine and Bi-Rite. They used the potlucks to swap stories and share advice. After the election, the mood darkened.

“We were all feeling different levels of grief, despondence, confusion, [and] frustration,” said Leslie Mah, one of the group’s organizers. During one of the meals, someone wondered what they could do to combat President Trump’s administration. “We started naming things, and it started coming together—ok, we actually have a lot here,” Mah said.

Last November galvanized the group, organizer Shakirah Simley said. It made them want to “come together as a community and build something that was sincere to our needs as women, as folks of color, as people who understand these pretty intense issues as [they] relate to class, race, gender, immigration, labor and the economy,” Simley said. “We see all those things as industry folks.”

Nourish|Resist members at their first event in January.

The group decided to formalize the group as a tool for political action, and dubbed themselves Nourish|Resist. They came up with a slogan: “Hate won’t feed us.” And since then, the group has combined their skill sets—from baking to political organizing—to educate people about how to effectively fight Trump’s policies.

The group takes a dual approach. Part of their work is internal, reminiscent of those early group dinners. It’s a safe space for women of color to discuss the mundanities and frustrations of their daily working lives. “When people think of resistance, they think of a protest. We like to think our existence is resistance,” Simley said. “In order to do that external organization, I like to say you have to take time to sharpen your saw before [you] can slice through wood.”

Their other work is external, a collection of events that facilitates direct political action. Many in the group have political and organizing backgrounds. Mah worked for MoveOn during the beginning of the Obama administration, and later worked as a paralegal for death row inmates before switching careers to work at Ritual Coffee Roasters, where she’s currently head roaster. Until recently, Simley was Bi-Rite’s community program manager, where she worked on community development projects like increasing the amount of healthy food at corner stores.

Nourish|Resist’s first event, “An Unpresidented Meal,” combined political organizing and a delicious meal.

Yet the group also emphasizes the importance that comes with the first part of their name, the power that comes with feeding people. “Breaking bread is an essential part of bringing people together that’s disarming,” said Simley. “Everyone eats. You can’t do this work unless you’re full. We want to make sure that [we’re] paying homage to what we’re really good at and what we know, which is food, beverage and hospitality.”

An Unpresidented Meal, the group’s first event, took place at Mission High the night before the inauguration. The group organized a meal—salad, turkey kofta—and instructed the high schoolers on how they could channel their frustrations. They made protest signs together, and talked about the rights people have when protesting. Don’t just stop there, the group urged, instructing them how to set up a citywide network of young activists.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

“People don’t respect the power of youth,” Simley said. “Youth are not apathetic because they don’t care, youth are apathetic because they feel like people don’t care about them. The minute you give youth resources, or agency or ask them what they think, they can be really engaged. They told us at our resistance dinner, ‘we’re inheriting something you created.’ And it’s not fair.”

Other events followed. Around Valentine’s Day, they provided chocolate and writing supplies for a “love letters to legislators” event, as well as tips for a useful letter (don’t just be angry, mention a specific bill or action you want them to support). The event yielded hundreds of colorful postcards to local politicians. The goal, Mah said, is to show people exactly what actions they can take to create the most amount of change.

“A lot of times, people want to do something, yet there’s a lack of understanding of how to do that,” Mah said. “We’d like to create a very tangible pathway of activation and participation that’s not just for the white majority who enjoy privilege, but also [for] very silenced majorities who have not been able to activate themselves for either fear, a sense of vulnerability, or a lack of support.”

Part of the night’s meal at An Unpresidented Meal.

Their goal isn’t merely to motivate San Franciscans, who have a wealth of resources and like-minded cohorts available to them. Nourish|Resist puts their resources online, so other groups throughout the country—who might be the Democratic minority in a red state—can easily create their own version of Nourish|Resist.

The group is currently planning more events,  including one this Friday about the role of race in the kitchen. In the future, they hope to connect with more women, and encourage people to participate in local and state elections. They also have loftier goals. They want to, “foster personal and food security for our community,” and “create coalitions across our similarly minded movements, people, and organizations.” It’ll be a slow journey, requiring an excess of time and money from workers in an industry that thrives on little of both. But Mah and Simley are excited for the future, excited to use their passion for local, sustainable food to challenge the new political reality, and show others that food is far from apolitical.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

“We use food as a tool for our resistance,” said Simley. “Sometimes when we think about the food system, people are like ‘yeah, we want a more just food system.’ We want a more just people system. And we use food to do that.”

Photos by Sana Javeri Kadri, courtesy of Nourish|Resist.

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

    More from

    Faces & Visions


    Ronald White (left) and Willington Rolle work in the Roots in the City urban garden in Miami's Overtown neighborhood on October 21, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The 2-acre lot, which was once a blighted area, features collard greens, citrus trees, papayas, and an assortment of vegetables. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Op-ed: 4 Solutions to Make Urban Ag Policies More Equitable

    Black Americans lack access to food and land—and city leaders often actively disrupt efforts to build food sovereignty. These policies could address the systemic injustices behind food apartheid and help urban ag scale up nationwide.


    Farming in Dry Places: Investors Continue to Speculate on Colorado Water

    cattle walking to a water trough in douglas county, colorado. Photo credit: thomas barwick, getty images

    Changes to WIC Benefits Would Cut Food Access for Millions of Parents

    a young parent feeds an infant food that they bought using their wic benefit

    Supermarket Food Waste Is a Big Problem. Are Strategic Price Cuts the Solution?

    avocados are on sale to prevent food waste using dynamic pricing at a supermarket

    What the Rapid Rise of Norway’s Farmed Salmon Industry Means For the Rest of the World