Food Justice Symposium

March 30th, 2019

FoodJustice symposium participants

Statement of Purpose

Food should be a powerful symbol of our connection with the Earth, our culture, and our community, but our current food system is broken. It abuses the land and pollutes the water, exploits workers and mistreats animals, and leaves millions without enough to eat while millions more are overweight or obese. The food justice movement strives to repair these relationships, to build a food system that nurtures human health and promotes environmental sustainability, that creates good jobs and fosters strong communities, that celebrates diverse cultures and empowers vulnerable individuals.

Our panel of experts each explores food justice from a different angle. They are scholars, community organizers, farmers, social justice advocates, chefs, NGO workers, and policy makers working to make food accessible to the most vulnerable populations and to provide economic opportunities through fair and safe labor practices. These issues play out locally, nationally, and internationally and will require a multidisciplinary and intersectional approach to be solved.

The symposium is part of a yearlong series of events focusing on food justice. Our kick-off event was a school-wide Tang lunch that explored the issue from three angles: classroom/curriculum, co-curricular/clubs, and our dining facility. Our series culminated with a celebratory food festival in May.

Presenters

Mariam Raquib

Dr. Raquib graduated from Wells College and earned her doctorate in Law, Policy
& Society from Northeastern University. She is the founder and director of
Afghanistan Samsortya, a nonprofit organization based in Massachusetts and
Jalalabad, Afghanistan that implements grassroots reforestation and orchard
development programs in eastern Afghanistan. Samsortya is a Pashtu word that
translates to “revitalization of the environment.” Since its founding, Afghanistan
Samsortya has planted more than one hundred thousand trees along the Afghan
countryside, in a country that has experienced more than 40 years of war,
poverty, and environmental degradation. The organization carries out its work by
establishing and managing nurseries, cultivating saplings, distributing the sapling
in the community, coordinating family gardens, and planting the trees in
accordance to the need of the community. The wells in the nurseries, two of
which are operated using solar energy, also provide surrounding communities
with clean drinking water. Afghanistan Samsortya’s work utilizes a
comprehensive, community-empowerment approach to carry out its work. Since
its founding, the organization has developed a diverse and widespread network of
partners in the community who play the primary role in the development and
implementation of programs that work to establish food sovereignty and replant
trees across the countryside. For example, in response to requests from its local
partners, the organization recently incorporated a program to raise livestock and
poultry to provide eggs, milk, and fertilizer to families in their communities. The
organization also relies on a diverse group of international supporters and
collaborators to assist with fundraising and to provide expertise on tree
cultivation, agricultural development, animal husbandry, and renewable energy.

 

Fred Opie

Fred Opie is a Professor of History and Foodways at Babson College. His work
unpacks history to positively impact the future. He is a regular contributor on
radio and television and in documentaries talking about food traditions and how
they change over time. Some of his classes include Food and Civil Rights and Food
and Politics and African History and Foodways. His most recent book is Southern
Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution. Learn more about his work and get
his blogs and podcasts at FredOpie.com

 

Bing Broderick ‘81

Bing Broderick became the Executive Director of Haley House in Boston in
December 2013. Haley House began in 1966 as a soup kitchen in Boston’s South
End, later offering permanent housing and job training. Bing arrived at Haley
House in September 2005 as a manager of the newly launched social enterprise
Haley House Bakery Café. Located in Dudley Square, Roxbury, the Café’s mission is
to provide a place where all are truly welcome and to create a workplace for people who face significant barriers to employment. Haley House is presently re-
envisioning its Café to remain vital and relevant for the years to come. Prior to his arrival at Haley House, Bing was the Director of Special Marketing at Rounder
Records and the Manager of Giant Screen Films for WGBH Enterprises.

 

Taryn Wiens ‘09

Taryn Wiens is pursuing her Masters in Landscape Architecture at the University
of Virginia. Her design work includes a proposal for re-imagining the model and
spatial integration of food gardens at a low-income housing complex in
Charlottesville, VA. She is organizing a panel at UVA this spring titled Landscape
Perspectives: Equality in + by Design. She also edits the design journal LUNCH, at
the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Prior to graduate school, she
worked on sheep farms in New Zealand and curated exhibitions in Portland, OR.
She received her B.A. in art from Colorado College in 2014.

 

Sarah Chang ‘05

In her role as Champions for Change Program Manager at the Social Justice
Learning Institute, Sarah works to facilitate community advocacy and push
forward policy, systems, and environment changes related to urban agriculture,
access to nutritious foods, and physical activity. She also acts as a strategist for
other health equity policies and programs, including water quality and
conservation, urban greening, environmental justice, and access to public transit
and active transportation. Her advocacy begins with educating community
members on health equity issues, building capacity with them to advocate for
change, and supporting their efforts with decision makers. Thus, you will find her
at the school gardens, at community meetings, within country-wide coalitions,
and up in Sacramento.

Sarah is a Chicago native who started her work with food and nutrition in the
culinary industry as the Chef/Owner of a private chef and catering company. In
2014, she pursued graduate work in nutrition, sustainable food policy, and public
health. During her graduate years, she gained experience working with
government offices and community based organizations working to empower
farmers and food business owners of color while also supporting a healthy,
equitable and sustainable local food system. Sarah holds a B.A. in Spanish and
Latin American Studies from Barnard College, and a M.S. in Agriculture Food and
the Environment and M.P.H. in Nutrition from Tufts University.

 

Lydia Sisson

Lydia Sisson is the Co-Director of Mill City Grows. She is an experienced
commercial farmer and small business owner. She holds a BA in Environmental
Studies from Vassar College, a Master’s degree in Economic and Social
Development of Regions from University of Massachusetts – Lowell, and a
certificate in Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology from the School
for International Training in Belém, Para, Brazil. Before founding Mill City Grows,
Lydia ran a 5-acre CSA farm for four years, feeding 75 families and selling
wholesale products to other regional CSAs. Her expertise in food production is
backed by 9 years of commercial agricultural experience. Her understanding of
community organizing is rooted in years of coalition-building work in Lowell. Lydia currently serves on MA Governor’s Board of Food and Agriculture as well as the
Cannabis Advisory Board and was the founding member of the Lowell Food
Security Coalition.

 

Neelam Sharma

Neelam Sharma serves as Executive Director of Community Services Unlimited
Inc. (CSU), a non-profit based in South Central Los Angeles. Neelam met CSU
founders when she visited Los Angeles from London on behalf of the Panther
organization she was a founder of in Britain in the mid 1980’s. She first became a
community activist as a pre-teen in response to an attempt by fascists to organize
in Southall, London, where she grew up, and since then was always engaged in
grassroots community organizing. When she moved to South Central Los Angeles
from London in 1997, she began to volunteer with CSU, and she found that her
own difficulties in accessing fresh, high quality, affordable food in her
neighborhood was a generalized experience for South LA residents. Her need to
feed her own family good food became her work and was driven by her broader
understanding of the basic human right to high quality, culturally appropriate
food as a critical element of social justice and a basic human right. Neelam has
mostly lived in the South Central community CSU serves and has two children
who attended neighborhood schools. She was a founding member of the Healthy
School Food Coalition, the parents’ coalition responsible for passing the soda ban
in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the first in the US, as well as the Los
Angeles Food Justice Network (precursor to the LA Food Policy Council) and the
California Food and Justice Coalition. Because of her experience and success
working and organizing with residents to expand urban agriculture, build models
for grassroots economic development, and improve community health, Neelam is
recognized as a national leader on the intersection between community economic
development, youth empowerment, and food justice. Neelam loves dancing,
reading, and storytelling and is excited about what the future has in store.

 

Felipe Storch de Oliveira ‘12

Felipe Storch is an advocate for sustainable development in the Brazilian Amazon.
He has worked bridging economics and environmental studies with indigenous
and minority populations at Instituto Socioambiental and the UN Agency for
Refugees.

 

Han Vale ‘15

Hanover (Han) Vale is a current Junior at Dartmouth College studying geography
and engineering science with a passion for food studies, cookery, and food justice.
Han likes to believe her involvement exploring Foodways spans multiple
generations, beginning with cooking with her Lola and manifesting through her
initiatives in the present day. Han holds a Cordon Bleu diploma and many culinary
certificates from the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey, UK and has worked
at Blue Ginger, in Wellesley, “Taste of London”, and Vinland in Portland, Maine as
a Garde Manger and Chef de Partie. At Dartmouth, as a now full-time student,
Han is a Mellon Mays Fellow studying the impact of the Green Revolution on
agrarian change and Philippine Foodways in the Bicol Region. Han is the founder
of the Thirdspace project and the Dartmouth Foodways Collective and is currently
the Assistant Coordinator for the upcoming conference “Cows, Land, and Labor,”
which explores the entanglements of the dairy industry and the Upper Valley to
global climate change and racialized labor inequities.

 

Alexandra Donovan ‘13

Recently graduated from Cornell University, Alexandra is a designer at SHoP
Architects in New York City. During her time at Cornell, she led a team of 40+
students to establish Anabel’s Grocery, a student-run grocery store working to
address food insecurity amongst Cornell students by providing nutritious,
affordable ingredients and educational programming to build a stronger
community around food. Alexandra is driven by the intersectional power of
design to affect the public realm, built and otherwise, to improve quality of life for
all. Anabel’s envisions a campus where all students have access to affordable
quality food and where no students have to sacrifice their studies because of
hunger or lack of adequate nutrition.

 

Special Thanks

Office of the Associate Head for Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness, Office of Alumni Engagement, Office of Physical Plant, Polk Center, Paresky Commons, David Florencio, Office of the Dean of Studies, Yomara Cruz, Brandon Stroman ‘97

Planning Committee

Flavia Vidal, LaShawn Springer, Brendan Mackinson, Aggie Kip, Allison Guerette, Leon Holley, Victor Leos, Paige Roberts, Lindsay Randall, Andy Wall