Past honorees have included Mark Bittman, Navina Khanna, Michael Pollan, and Michelle Obama.
Dara Cooper James Beard Foundation
Credit: James Beard Foundation

On May 5 in Chicago, Illinois, the James Beard Foundation will recognize five people who are making the food industry better, fairer, and more sustainable. On Wednesday, the new honorees were announced: Dara Cooper, Ferd Hoefner, Doug Rauch, Shirley Sherrod, and Ramon Torres.

“We are delighted to celebrate these visionaries working tirelessly to create a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable food world, as part of the James Beard Awards weekend,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, in a statement announcing the recipients. “How apropos that these awards speak so brilliantly to the ‘RISE’ theme of this year’s gala, honoring the collective spirit of our community and the power of food.”

Dara Cooper, the cofounder of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, has built a coalition of Black-led organizations and institutions for Black food sovereignty. Ferd Hoefner, senior strategic advisor at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, has been working in federal farm and food advocacy for over 40 years. Doug Rauch, the president-founder of the Daily Table, is fighting food insecurity. Shirley Sherrod, executive director of the Southwest Georgia Project, has worked to build farmer coops in the South and defend farmer equity. Ramon Torres, president of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, is behind the creation (and success) of an independent indigenous farm worker labor union in Washington State.

Past honorees of the award, which is in its eigth year, have included Mark Bittman, Navina Khanna, Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Dan Barber and Michelle Obama.

According to the statement announcing the news, the JBF Leadership Awards are meant to recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as lifetime achievement. This year’s honorees were selected by ballots submitted by past recipients.