It’s Just Food: A Food Justice Symposium

Keynote Speakers

  • Fred Opie is a Professor of History and Foodways at Babson College. Some of his classes include Food and Civil Rights, Food and Politics and African History and Foodways. His most recent book is, Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution.
  • Mariam Raqib, 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

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, pollutes the water, exploits workers and mistreats animals. It leaves millions without enough to eat while millions more are overweight or obese.  The food justice movement strives to repair these connections, 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 explores food justice from different angles. 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 for vulnerable workers. These issues play out locally, nationally, and internationally and will require a multidisciplinary and intersectional approach to be solved.

The symposium was 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 last May during Earth Week. 


  • Bing Broderick ’81, Executive Director of Haley House in Boston. 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.
  • Sarah Chang ’05, Champions for Change Program Manager, working to facilitate community advocacy and push forward policy, systems, and environment changes related to urban agriculture, access to nutritious foods, and physical activity. She started her work with food and nutrition in the culinary industry as the Chef/Owner of a private chef and catering company.
  • Han Vale ’15, Mellon Mays fellow studying the impact of the Green Revolution on agrarian change and Philippine Foodways in the Bicol Region. Han holds a Cordon Bleu diploma and many culinary certificates from the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey, UK. She is the founder of the Thirdspace project and the Dartmouth Foodways Collective.
  • Alexandra Donovan ’13, 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.
Sarah Chang, pictured at the podium; seated l to r: Alexandra Donovan ’13 and Han Vale ’15
  • Lydia Sisson, Co-Director of Mill City Grows 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.
  • Taryn Wiens ’09, Masters student 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.
  • Neelam Sharma, Executive Director of Community Services Unlimited Inc. 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 and the California Food and Justice Coalition.
  • Felipe Storch de Oliveira ’12, 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.

Organized by: Brace Center for Gender Studies and the Community and Multicultural Development Office in coordination with: Community Engagement Office, biology department, chemistry department, Sustainability Office, the Archives, Sykes Wellness Center

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