School Food Essay

Student interest has often (though not exclusively) driven the development of food studies.

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Well-known New York restaurateur Danny Meyer announced recently that he intends to eliminate tipping at his New York restaurants with an across-the-board increase in prices to fund “hospitality.” Meanwhile, fast food workers, nationally, have been fighting for a rat-infested camps while picking tomatoes.

Colleges and universities with existing food studies programs should strive to make entry more feasible for lower income students through targeted grants and scholarships.

Food studies faculty should ensure that curricula address the diverse educational and professional development interests and needs of all students.

Or those who have experienced the economic challenges of agricultural communities?

Marion Nestle, a public health expert and NYU faculty member (no relation to the Nestlé food company!(The New York City Food Policy Center has offered recommendations for how the mayor’s office could create 10,000 new good food jobs in the city by 2020.) Yet while some students may possess the economic and/or social capital to do this, many also face an immediate need to pay the bills.While helping to foster an expanded good food jobs sector, food studies programs should prepare students to identify and obtain jobs that are safe, financially viable, and fair.• Finally, food studies should be accessible to students whose communities bear the brunt of food inequities—communities of color and low-income communities in both urban and rural areas—so they can gain skills to lead change.Institutions with a higher proportion of low-income students and students of color should consider creating or expanding food-related degree programs.At The New School in New York, students often design their own food studies projects in elective courses and the school’s new food studies degree program.At Tufts University, the Friedman Justice League, a student organization, has been pushing for more courses in food justice—that is, social justice related to food and agriculture—as well as more student and faculty diversity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.This is all the more important for students of color and working-class students who may have experienced firsthand the food injustices that are examined conceptually in the classroom.Studies of food and social justice should help all students understand the dynamics of injustice while also shifting the demographics of both the movement and the related economy.Food studies can do three important things to make this happen: • First, critical analysis of the food system should be part of food studies courses and programs.Rather than fostering simple mastery of food-system facts (for example, how many more mouths we will have to feed by mid-century), programs should help students develop deep understandings about the social and political structures underlying food and environmental injustices (for example, how global political patterns foster food shortages in low-income countries).


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