While our primary mission at Solid Starts is to help you introduce real food to babies and prevent picky eating, our work encompasses much more than that.
Food is cultural. What is totally appropriate to introduce to a baby in one country can be shocking to another. We love that. You will see us regularly encourage you to start your feeding journey in a way that reflects your family’s values, food culture, and identity.
Food is also political. We don’t shy away from the areas of debate around access and equity, and regularly offer information about environmental and human rights impact to create meaningful dialogue around them. That said, we also realize that not everyone has access to food that is 100% in line with their values. If you do, that is wonderful. Know that it is a privilege. Our goal here will be to present the information and encourage you to balance those findings with reality. Guilt and shame have no place here.
Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Of particular importance to us is that every family have access to our educational resources. That is why our First Foods® database is free, and why we offer complimentary guides to those who cannot afford them. We’ve yet to decline an application and more than 100,000 families have benefited from free guides in the last year. Not sure if you should apply? Please do. If you have to think about whether you can afford the resources, you qualify.
Solid Starts also compensates a revolving group of 20+ BIPOC families and families with babies who have developmental differences to provide videos and pictures. Our biggest expense, this junior recipe tester program serves the purpose to ensure that a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities are represented here. Families in the program are compensated for each video and have access to Solid Starts feeding therapists and nutrition professionals for life. If you have a baby 4 to 5 months old and are interested in joining the program, email [email protected]
In June of 2020, we brought together leaders in the baby food and feeding space to create a diversity, equity, and inclusion working group to see if we could collectively create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive baby food and feeding sector. The year caused many of us to question the norms in the baby food and feeding sector and whether we were doing enough. What could we do to impact systemic discrimination in our industry? How have we been unknowingly complicit in systemic discrimination? And how do we deepen our analysis while making substantial and concrete changes?
To explore these issues and more fully understand how we, together, could make a meaningful impact, we put our competitive interests aside to form an executive working group with others in our field and harness our collective power for change. To ensure we went about this in the most rigorous and thoughtful way, Solid Starts retained Nikki Silvestri as a coach and group facilitator.
The goal of the working group is to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive baby food and feeding sector. Directly and indirectly, we contribute to the nutrition information ecosystem and impact that economy. To that end we identified three initiatives to economically impact systemic discrimination in baby food and child nutrition. While we are still learning—and our work ongoing—our commitments to this work include:
- Paid Positions for BIPOC Nutrition Professionals. There are numerous reasons why it’s more difficult for BIPOC dietitians and nutritionists of color to advance in their careers. As such, we are committed to recruiting BIPOC dietitians and nutritionists and creating paid intern and fellowship programs that prioritize students of color who plan to enter the field of nutrition.
- Complimentary Access to Feeding & Nutrition Guides for Low-Income Families. Infant feeding and nutrition information often comes at a price. Participating organizations will create low-barrier economic need programs providing applicants with free access to guides and online courses on baby feeding and nutrition.
- Advocate for Representation. There are many representation gaps in our industry’s imagery and communications. We will lobby stock image companies to grow the number of assets featuring BIPOC families in baby food, feeding, and child nutrition imagery and videos.
Our learning has just begun. The established working group will continue to collaborate on external commitments and create a learning environment to deepen our authentic, complex dialogue on these topics.
Members of the Baby Food & Feeding Working Group on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
Jenny Best Solid Starts
Jennifer Anderson Kids Eat in Color
Kacie Barnes Mama Knows Nutrition
Adam Bonnier Miniware USA
Alexandra Caspero Plant Based Juniors
Renae D’Andrea New Ways Nutrition
Nekole Eaton Kids OT Help / Nekole Amber
Whitney English Plant Based Juniors
Melissa Guerriero Pump Momma Pump
Venus Kalami Pediatric Dietitian
Barbara Lamperti BuonaPappa
Sofia Laurel Tiny Organics
Malina Malkani Healthy Mom, Healthy Kids
Dr. Rachel Ruiz Pediatrician & Gastroenterologist
Leslie Schilling Born to Eat
Jennie Shen Serenity Kids
Christine Topalian Agha FoodieKid
Paul Wang Olababy
We understand that creating a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive baby food and feeding sector is a tall order. We’re hoping to demonstrate that a systemic and strategic approach—grounded in care and a shame-free environment—is not only possible but the baseline of what’s necessary to make real change. We hope that our commitments inspire you to do your part as we continue to do ours.