Everyone is welcome at our table. Join us.

Linda Novick O’Keefe

Co-Founder & CEO

As the co-founder of Common Threads, I have witnessed and experienced how language and culture, ethnicity and race, and religion and geographic origin guide the daily food choices that people make. We celebrate food and culture at Common Threads because we understand that food is deeply personal and by its nature, it is diverse and inclusive. However, the food system through which communities all over the country access healthy food is not diverse, equitable and inclusive enough, which is why Common Threads is taking more initiative and investing more resources in strategies that can bring positive change in communities. We aim to support communities in achieving healthier diets which can lead to better health outcomes, especially where children, adults, and families are facing systemic racism and discrimination embedded in policies that have shaped their local food systems and resources.

Statement of Commitment

Diversity, equity and inclusion nourish us to excel at what we do: bringing people together through the common threads of food and community.
  • We promote diversity in all areas of our organization, including recruitment and engagement of our staff and board members, our purchasing policies and our programming
  • We celebrate culture and heritage while promoting health & wellbeing
  • We build on community strengths through a collaborative model that includes partners in our planning and implementation
  • We prioritize our work in under-resourced communities to teach critical life skills that are essential to realizing nutrition equity
  • We welcome every person to share their unique experiences and have an active voice in our organization

DEI Framework: 3 Focus Areas

Common Threads developed a 2-year Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategic plan that will guide us toward achieving measurable improvements in how we partner with communities. This framework will be revisited and updated annually.

External Communications:

Strengthen our communication and engagement with diverse communities by leveraging digital media to celebrate cultural and healthy foods and heritages. 

Organizational Culture:

Pursue continual improvement of staff training, resources, and employee-based policies that increase the organization’s capacity to institutionalize DEI.

Community Engagement:

Enhance community engagement strategies by investing in local MBWEs as suppliers and vendors, evaluating local community contexts, and adopting tools that remove barriers to accessing nutrition education materials.

Common Threads Food Philosophy Pillars

Our Food Philosophy guides Common Threads as we promote behaviors that contribute to healthy nutritional habits, cultivate relationships over a meal, and celebrate food culture and origins. 

We celebrate culture through food and learning.
  • We support and celebrate cultural diversity in our recipes and programs by honoring food traditions, diverse ingredients, and by acknowledging that traditional foods are a part of a healthy diet.  
  • We acknowledge that food choices are as unique as the individuals who consume them and recognize each individual’s option to choose foods that reflect their cultural identity.
  • We encourage our participants to celebrate the world around them through global recipes and shared meals during our programs.
We promote health through nutrient dense menus and hands-on culinary skills
  • We promote healthy behaviors and dietary patterns in our recipes and programs that contribute to optimal health with an emphasis on: 
    1. Cooking family meals at home with lean cooking methods and enhancing flavors with herbs and spices to balance fat, sodium, and sugar intake.
    2. Nutrient dense foods that contribute to a diverse plate such as whole grains, lean animal and plant based proteins, all forms of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, and unsaturated fats.
  • We utilize simple, flexible ingredients in our recipes with an emphasis on versatility, creativity, and cost-effectiveness. 
  • We believe cooking promotes community, skill building, cross-cultural and multi-generational learning and communication to foster healthy lifestyles.
We support local agriculture and economic development, where possible, by prioritizing local food procurement.
  • We highlight the economical and nutritional benefits of purchasing local and seasonal ingredients in our recipes and programs.
  • When possible, we cultivate partnerships with local food vendors and restaurants to supply ingredients for our programs.
  • Common Threads is committed to adopting and implementing the Good Food Purchasing Pledge by 2025.
For Common Threads, DEI means that nutrition education and wellness programming should be diverse and inclusive in its content and delivery, as well as equitable in reach. We will work to remove barriers that prevent our ability to achieve equitable distribution of programming and resources in communities, while considering populations that have different languages, needs, and walks of life.