UCLA Students Join The Food Movement

Do you know what Food Forward, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Chipotle, and your child’s school all have in common? No? Well, I didn’t know either until I took UCLA’s Food Studies and Food Justice course this summer. Turns out, they are all contributors to LA’s food justice movement, a growing social justice campaign involving anything from food waste to food deserts, childhood obesity and GMOs, access to healthy food versus access to any food. Because of this class and my time with Food Forward, I am officially a bandwagoner of the LA Food Movement.

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Savannah and Simon at the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market

Through UC’s Global Food Initiative grant, UCLA’s Center for Community Learning offered this class completely free to students. Based in “service learning” methodology, we were taught that working in the field is of equal value as working in a classroom. So, every week, the twenty of us students spent one day in the classroom and the others in our respective internships with nonprofits fighting hunger in Los Angeles. After a series of ten lectures on anything from junk food marketing to food as a metaphor in Ancient Roman literature, we all became well versed in the language of all things food. We learned that the Episcopal Diocese of LA are creating a network of urban gardens, Chipotle is fueling the fire to the GMO food debate, and LAUSD is revamping their school lunch menu as a pilot for the entire country. We learned that $12 million in SNAP benefits go unclaimed yearly in CA, sugary drinks are the number one calorie source of Americans, and that Michael Pollan is not always right. Crazy, right?? Most importantly, however, we learned to become committed–to the class, to our organizations, and to the movement.

Simon and I, the two luckiest students in class, interned at Food Forward, specifically helping to expand the volunteer base in West LA. When I would come into work, I could always count on a handful of things: someone telling a story in the back of the office, a strong aroma of paninis and fresh fruit, and a  bright-eyed staff who eat, pick, and laugh together. I don’t know if I’ll ever encounter a group of people like this again–but I can only hope that one day my own office will be just as bright and as orange as this one is.

In case you didn’t pick this up, I really loved my time at Food Forward. (In fact, I had such a great time that I’m continuing throughout the school year to establish a relationship with UCLA’s food insecure students!) This class has changed the way I look at, eat, fight for, and appreciate the food in my life, and though it is over, it is now my honor and duty to pass the plate.

– Savannah Gardner, UCLA Class of 2018

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The last box of collected produce that Savannah and Simon weighed during their internship!

 

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