Kanav Kathuria’s work lies in the intersection of abolitionism, public health, and food sovereignty. He is a 2019 Open Society Institute Baltimore Community Fellow and the co-founder of the Maryland Food & Prison Abolition Project (formerly the Farm to Prison Project), a Baltimore-based organization that interrogates food conditions in carceral facilities to explore the use of food as a tool for resistance.
Kathuria spent his early life in India, moving to the U.S. when he was seven. Growing up, he learned first-hand about India’s prison system and its role as a political tool to discriminate against lower classes and castes. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, he returned to India and later came back to Baltimore as a Baltimore Corps fellow. Through his travels and his studies, he saw the parallels between India’s prison system and the U.S. carceral state. Food was being weaponized – used as punishment rather than nourishment.
Kathuria started The Farm to Prison Project (now the Maryland Food & Prison Abolition Project) as a path to address the public health crisis of food in the United States’ prison system. The project is one of the first of in the country working to improve all aspects of food served in correctional facilities. The project’s first step is a pilot program at a Maryland institution. Focus groups with incarcerated individuals will guide the project’s trajectory – determining goals of the pilot and next steps for implementation. Farmers and food justice advocates will be engaged to form a pipeline with urban and small-scale farms in Baltimore. The project will work with public health professionals and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to ensure solutions are sustainable, equitable, and that the pilot can be replicated at other institutions.
Kathuria is setting off to create structural change in how the U.S. treats and rehabilitates incarcerated individuals. Change that will have ramifications in Maryland, and potentially far beyond.
(portions of this bio excerpted from Kanav's OSI profile)