Produced by Sofia Sanchez Pillot Saavedra Fall 2018
The project I worked on for the Food Systems Capstone Course was a short 10-minute film in collaboration with the FRESH food pantry at Chabot College. When I was a student at Chabot Community College, I came across a class called Passion and Purpose, which focused on student’s passions and ways to leverage that passion into initiatives and projects. In my time at Chabot, I realized I was passionate about the environment, food issues and the wider community of Hayward, and found that a Food pantry was a resource highly needed on campus. With a group of students, faculty and staff at Chabot, the FRESH food pantry came to fruition and by the time I transferred to UC Berkeley, the project had taken off with its first pop-up event in May of 2017. To this day, the pantry has served over 7000 people. FRESH has also started distributing clothing and is planning on expanding to hygiene products as well as school materials. The energy around this project was incredibly humbling, and it left me with the urge to document it into a short film that could be shared to raise awareness and inspire anyone interested in issues surrounding food insecurity and student collaboration.
My time at Terramino was quite a journey that I am extremely blessed to have gone through. I was able to take a peek at a startup company that was started by UC Berkeley alumni and how their process of starting a company as long as their hiring component took place. When I joined Terramino, their company was still relatively new just as their were moving from a collaborative space with other companies to their own space in San Leandro. I was excited to be there as they were beginning their journey on their own and I was more than willing to help with anything they needed.
For the food systems capstone course project, I collaborated with Mothers to Mothers, an organization focused on defining and obtaining postpartum justice for parents of all races, genders, cultures, and identities. The group has a website used for discussing their ideas, concept, events, classroom lectures, resources, and media outreach. I played a part in redesigning and offering new resources and updates to that website so visitors would have a fresh look the project based on current semester goals.
My community engagement project involved work with DoorDash in order to launch a pilot program, Kitchens Without Borders, that would aid immigrant and refugee restaurant owners to provide customers with free delivery. The idea for the program was born in an internal hackathon at DoorDash and the company decided to include it in their corporate social responsibility initiatives (CSR). Essentially, the program would partner with local non-profits working with immigrants and refugees in the food system. Together with corporate funds, these partnerships would enable DoorDash to pay the delivery fee for selected participating merchants, which, according to internal data,boosts sales from 50-200 percent. When I was contacted to work with them on launching this program, I knew I had to be a part of it.
The overarching theme that has permeated my internship this semester has been that of connection. I have spent almost three months working and learning at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm in Albany, California. Not only have I learned actual skills and techniques for farming on an urban farm, but I have also learned a lot about myself, and my food system. Far too often in today’s society, we have no idea where our food comes from, who grows and harvests it, and how it gets to us… Most of us are completely disconnected from our food system. Prior to my internship at Gill Tract, I too was rather disconnected from the food system.
We lie deeply embedded in a consumerist society which continues to serve injustices on every plate. People throughout the system– from producer to consumer– are treated unfairly by the capitalist marketplace. Institutionally, sustainable production practices are disincentivized, and for a significant group of people, a healthy diet is unattainable. From the classroom, I have learned that the modern food system creates inequity and does not account for the disparities it creates. However, I have found that the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets are a unique hiding place within this system for a range of consumers who seek and support healthy, local food, and for producers who grow with a holistic mindset.
As farms across the US continue industrializing and consolidating, populations of small farmers face drastic declines. Their farming knowledge, which tends to be much more sustainable and ecologically sound, disappears with them. This semester I worked with First Generation Farmers (FGF), an organization based on a small farm in Brentwood, California, which actively helps foster the next generation of farmers by recruiting new farmers and instructing them in organic and agroecological methods.
As I conclude my semester interning with the Berkeley Unified Gardening and Cooking Program, I am sad to see it ending. I’ve loved being in the world of elementary school, especially in the garden; it’s been wonderful to forget the stresses of being a full time UC Berkeley student in favor of hunting down cabbage eating inchworms, dressing up as a scarecrow to walk in the Halloween parade, and getting my hands in the dirt with twenty or so willing participants at a time. My Mondays and Wednesdays the past four months have been sweetened by kids’ laughter, monarch butterflies, and the feet stomping excitement that comes with the announcement of that week’s “Garden Snack.”