Food Systems and Society students have included, among many others, dietitians with an interest in food insecurity, restaurant industry professionals committed to improving restaurant labor practices, and food bank leaders seeking to address systemic barriers to food access. Collectively, Food Systems and Society students are motivated by interest in and commitment to improving the social conditions and processes that influence equity in food systems and society.
Our current students and alumni, some of whom are listed below, are located in a wide range of places and engaged with an impressive array of food system-related work.
FSS Student and Alumni Profiles
Thesis title: Collaborative effort for systems change: views across the food movement.
Nicole Brand is the Director of Outreach Programs for the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, an organization that advocates for innovative strategies in large-scale landscape conservation including the role of Florida ranch and farm lands. She served as a founding member of the St Pete Youth Farm and currently sits on the St. Pete Food Policy Council.
Thesis title: Voting Rights: How the Fetishization of Organic Compromises Food Justice
After graduating in 2015, I presented my thesis at the AFHVS/ASFA conference and Yale Food Systems Symposium, wrote profiles for the OSU Extension website, and led an Oregon Humanities discussion forum called "Good Food, Bad Food: Agriculture, Ethics, and Personal Choice." I founded and run an online gift shop that showcases local and Nez Perce artists and makers, called Genuine Wallowa County, and a local food-delivery service, GWC Provisions.
MS FSS Candidate
Based in New Orleans, LA, Darci is a former Pastry Chef with an undergraduate degree in Social Policy and Practice. Darci hopes to increase efforts by the local restaurant industry to feed food desert neighborhoods.
Registered Dietitian, Salem Health
I aspire to use this program as a launching point into the world of food justice, specifically working with food access and marginalized communities. In my practice as an RD, I'm active in the body-positive movement to reduce size-bias in health care.
Thesis title: Commodity Racism, Cultural Appropriation, and the Perpetuation of Oppressive Food Discourse
I teach butchery and bread baking as a vehicle to introduce people to food systems and land management issues. I also do mobile wild game processing and am working to implement mobile livestock slaughter and butchery in the Gallatin Valley of Montana. You can learn more on the website Forage Fed.
I have worked in grocery stores, kitchens, farms, and food banks, both as an employee and volunteer. Currently I'm interested in learning more about preservation systems that can enhance equitable farm fresh offerings of local food pantries and food banks.
Interested in the stability of the food system in relation to climate change and climate migration, particularly in regards to agriculture. How will changing agricultural practices affect stability, resiliency and equity?
Kayla Byers Hootsmans
Legislative Coordinator, State of Oregon
Thesis title: Not-So-Free Trade Agreements: Discursive Framings of Food Systems Benefits and Burdens around Free Trade Agreements
As a Legislative Coordinator for the State of Oregon, I engage with the food system by working on state public policy that connects Oregonians and helps communities thrive.
Co-Founder & CEO, MycoKind
Thesis title: Food Consulting Confidential: Neoliberalism in Silicon Valley Food and Technology Culture
Lowering the barrier of entry to participate in the food system by evaluating supply chain and distribution models.
Public Health Program Coordinator, FLIPANY
Thesis title: Empathy for Justice: A Social Transformation of the US Food System
My food system engagements since graduating include volunteering with a local Sierra Club campaign called Stop the Burn to inform others about the racial and environmental injustices of preharvest sugarcane field burning and an internship with Food Tank, which involved interviewing global food innovators and publishing articles for a global audience. Currently, I am engaging restaurants and Faith-based organizations in implementing healthy food and wellness initiatives as a Public Health Program Coordinator for a nonprofit in South Florida. Learn more on my website.
Ileana Contreras Castro
Nutritionist and writer
Thesis title: Voices and Arms: Women’s Movements and Food Sovereignty
I write children’s books that advocate for gender equality and human rights.
Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, Snohomish Conservation District
Thesis title: How Policy and Scientific Research Benefiting the Sugar Industry Unequally Affects Low-Income Americans
Increasing access to locally sourced nutritious food for underserved communities in Snohomish County. This involves balancing natural resource conservation and food security efforts.
Thesis Title: Addressing the Intersection of Climate Change and Social Inequities through Food System Planning
Cayley’s research has emphasized how food system planning initiatives can address the intersection of climate change and social inequities in the food system. She aims to advance the coordination of food system planning and policies across disciplines to mitigate the aggravation and reproduction of inequities by climate instability.
PhD student, Rural Sociology & International Agriculture and Development, The Pennsylvania State University
Thesis title: Agricultural Apprenticeships: Reproducing Traditional Labor Relations in the Alternative Food Movement?
Kait's interests span economic sociology, governance, and globalization; agrarian change and development; food system labor; and movements for justice and sustainability. Find her contact information on the PSU website.
I have been working in food preparation for a long time, but I'm moving towards work that will allow me to advance alternative food systems to increase equity, sustainability, and overall well-being of my community.
Executive Director, Imperial Valley Food Bank
Thesis title: Growing Food Banks? Securing the Food Insecurity Network
Food Banker and advocate for the needs of my low-income friends and neighbors who do not have enough food to eat.
Outreach Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning
Thesis title: A Discursive Analysis of Culturally Appropriate Food: The conceptualization and contribution to social justice
My experience in food systems work has been with non-profit organizations, working to grow local food economies and cultivate future generations of agricultural stewards.
Kathleen Hahn, RD, LD
Clinical Dietitian, Providence Health & Services
I work as a dietitian and I am interested in how my patients' health is impacted by race, class, and gender. I hope to work towards health equity by better understanding underlying ideologies that shape culture, policy, and our daily choices.
Director, Urban Food Environments
Thesis title: Healthy Food on Wheels: An Exploration of Mobile Produce Markets through a Food Justice Lens
I work at University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health on urban food access initiatives. Particularly, my work focuses on supporting small neighborhood grocery markets, urban farmers, farmers' markets, food pantries, and community members in building an inclusive, equitable, and economically thriving local food landscape.
Program Manager, A Rocha Canada
Thesis title: Unsettling settler food movements: An exploration of colonialism, food movements, and decolonization
I work with an environmental organization that focuses on environmental education, conservation science and sustainable food systems.
Program Coordinator, UConn Community Outreach Programs
Thesis title: Empty Bellies in Fields of Plenty: A review of the U.S. federal food and nutrition programs and rural food insecurity
I have served as an AmeriCorps service member in a food justice project in CT, coordinated a farmers' market in Northeastern CT for 4 years, provided community nutrition programming to adults and children as well as worked on a Feeding America Research project related to healthcare and food bank partnerships. At UConn, in addition to other programs, I support initiatives focused on food security for students on campus as well as a program that redirects university resources to support community food security initiatives.
Senior Planning Analyst, Providence Health & Services
I am interested in exploring how plant-based diets can contribute to social equity.
Thesis Title: Looking Through the Kitchen Window: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Domestic Foodwork Research and Oppression
After several years of working within the food system at universities, emergency food providers, farmers' markets and more, Faith will be pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Michigan State University. Her interests include food access and security, intersectionality, and queer theory.
Social Services Food Program Kitchen Supervisor, Outside In
Thesis title: The Role Labor Unions and Worker Centers Play in Restaurant Industry Equality (Winner of the Outstanding MS Thesis of 2020 Award)
Whitney Shervey has been a professional cook for 20 years, volunteers as a culinary educator, and enjoys growing food for her family and friends. After years of working in the restaurant industry, she is committed to using labor organizing to transform the food industry to be more equitable.
Thesis title: Want Amid Plenty: The Capitalist Paradox of Hunger and Food Waste
I began researching and writing about food insecurity and food waste for Food Tank, which led me to a research fellowship with SIFF, where I studied regenerative agriculture. I then worked as a farmer at the Rodale Institute, a regenerative research farm. Currently, I am part of an incubation program with the City of Austin to find ways to meaningfully address food insecurity.
Teacher, Fort Worth ISD
Thesis title: Kids Deserve the Best We Can Offer: An Analysis of School Lunch
I'm currently looking for work in the food systems field. I am teaching middle school math with the hopes of eventually transitioning to work where I can help change what kids eat in school. Find on my LinkedIn.
Program Manager, Root Cause Farm
Ali’s career has been supported by a Bachelor of Social Work and a Certificate in Horticulture. Ali brings experience and leadership in community garden management, teaching, project development, and food access advocacy using an abundance mindset and collaborative model to work towards food justice.
I am interested in the development of policy as it relates to food and health equity in the U.S., as well as sustainable food production and the future of food in an interplanetary society.
Food Farmacy Director, Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Office
Thesis title: More Than Your Nutrition 101: Exploring Systemic Causes of Childhood Obesity
In collaboration with Alameda County and the Deputy Sheriffs' Activities League, I am working to advance their Community Capitals Policing Framework (CCPF) to progress Food as Medicine by supporting local farmers, initiating Food Recovery efforts across the county with local schools, wholesale grocery stores, and restaurants while creating a local food economy by managing a small incubation kitchen for small business caterers and entrepreneurs.
Associate Director, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, City of New York
Thesis title: The Illusion of Choice in the Grocery Store: Grocery Stores and the Construction of Food Choice
Meg works on healthcare policy and finance for the City of New York's public hospital system. Her work seeks to better align the healthcare delivery system with a patients' social determinants of health needs, including food insecurity and housing instability/homelessness. Learn more on Meg's LinkedIn.
Grace I. Wilson
Director of Communications, Hero Arts
Thesis title: The Curious Silence of Gender Inequity
Professional snacker, champion of toddler food exploration, avid volunteer, active at home grower and purveyor of all things edible.