Food Justice and “Healthy Bodies” in Delaware
University of Delaware, Department of Geography
As part of the Food Geographies and Food Justice class in the Department of Geography, students do community engaged research partnering with the Newark branch of the Food Bank of Delaware to conduct place-based research on food access in New Castle County.
Projects are developed by Professor Naylor and student teams in collaboration with the Food Bank. Each project has a different food justice focus. Student teams work together over the course of the semester to conduct original research and data analysis. At the end of the term students present their final work to the class and the Food Bank.
2020 and 2021 projects were cancelled due to COVID-19.
#1 – WIC Farmer’s Market Vouchers
This project assessed opportunities to increase spending of WIC Vouchers at Farmer’s Markets in Delaware. WIC is the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC link). In many cities across the U.S. vouchers for use of supplemental nutrition benefits such as WIC and SNAP are being accepted at farmer’s markets, in some cases, such as Washington, D.C. there are incentives to use these benefits at markets, for example, by doubling the amount that can be spent. In this project students conducted research on how to make the farmer’s market a place where WIC vouchers are more likely to be spent, by conducting a survey with farmer’s market organizers and vendors as well as WIC staff.
#2 – UD student hunger – SWIPEOUT
This project built on work completed on UD Student hunger since 2016. Students drew on data collected by previous project teams to create an avenue for starting a SWIPE OUT hunger campaign on campus. As part of participation in this project students learned about the national SWIPE OUT hunger initiative and engaged various campus offices and campus administrators. SWIPE OUT HUNGER (link). Through these engagements and concurrent efforts by other students and faculty on campus the administration has agreed to initiate a SWIPEOUT campaign for fall 2019.
#3 – Healthcare Referral Initiative
This is a new project for 2019 and was an opportunity for UD students to shape the information gathering for a new FBD program. This initiative will assist with informing the FBD on how to incentivize healthcare partners to refer clients who may need food assistance.
Students built on the foundation established by the 2017 research group, conducting surveys to determine access, use, and benefits/drawbacks of the program at three pick-up locations. The students analyzed data from 71 surveys and provided findings and recommendations to the food bank.
This continuing project had two different streams of active research for this project team. The first, focused on action-oriented work to partner with on-campus groups to determine need and schedule end-of-term food donations. The second, conducted preliminary work to determine the feasibility of a swipe out hunger campaign for campus.
This project team conducted research with the Newark Farmers Market and the local WIC office to determine the feasibility of using WIC vouchers for the purchase of produce at the market. The team designed fliers to advertise the program, which began May 2018.
#1: Produce Prescription
Students conducted focus groups with clients of the Produce Prescription Program. This is a pilot program designed to provide fresh vegetables to pediatric clients.
#2: UD Student Hunger
This project built on the UD food assessment conducted in 2016 by GEOG430 students, which evaluated sites of food waste on the UD campus and assessed opportunities to reduce food waste through food donations. In this project students conducted a university-wide survey on student hunger; scheduled a food drive in cooperation with move-out services to create opportunities for end-of term food donations; and identified locations and opportunities for a new UD food pantry. Students also conducted interviews with the office of sustainability, the Blue Hen Food Recovery Network and the current coordinator of Blue Hen Bounty, finding that more staffing and capacity is needed to serve UD students.
#3 Hunger Relief follow-up with MAPS
This project will built on data collected in a 2016 survey by GEOG430 students with FBD hunger relief partners who distribute food in Delaware. In this project students conducted a follow-up survey about community building; re-sent the previous survey to non-respondents; prepared a presentation and materials to assist the FBD in explaining the MAPS program to community partners; made suggestions for orientation, outreach, and benefits; and visited hunger relief partner sites for observation and outreach.
#1: Marketing and outreach for farmers market in Downtown Newark
Students conducted field research at the Newark Natural Foods Farmers Market and reviewed SNAP incentive strategies at other regional farmers markets to understand SNAP usage and incentive programs. Students created materials, including a flier (at left) and a brochure, to increase awareness for market vendors and SNAP recipients of SNAP as a form of payment at the market.
#2: Community‐based needs assessment
Students conducted a GIS analysis and research on hunger in Delaware and created maps for each of the three counties using SNAP recipients as a indicator of hunger. Drawing from their data, students co-wrote a narrative about the populations experiencing chronic hunger in the three counties of Delaware for the Food Bank for use in future grant proposals.
#3: University of Delaware supply investigation
Students conducted research on the UD food supply, food waste stream, possibilities for campus composting and potential partnerships with the Food Bank. The student team conducted interviews and a survey. The write-up by the students used this data to suggest places for raising awareness about food waste and hunger on campus, as well as, potential partnerships for food drives and end-of-year food donations.
#4: Hunger relief partners program improvement and expansion (MAPS)
Students developed and deployed a survey to Food Bank hunger relief partners that assessed awareness of education
and incentive programs, how programs are managed, how project rewards are distributed, how to expand capacity and create community around hunger relief. Students conducted an analysis of survey results and created a report with raw data, data analysis, and recommendations for the Food Bank.
Food Intersections Symposium
In May 2018 I organized and convened a concurrent paper workshop, public symposium, and community-activist workshop at the University of Delaware. The scholarly component: Food Intersections: Rethinking Space, Bodies, and Nature included food justice scholars from across the United States and addressed such topics and core questions as:
Space | How can we better understand the roles of food and agriculture in constructing space and place? How do they differ? Who has access to sites of cultivation and/or consumption? What racial tensions, gendered identities, and/or class dynamics are written into food and agricultural landscapes and how do these processes occur? How do rural and urban experiences differ and how might we disrupt this binary? In what spaces do people access food and food products and how is access (un)even? Do divisions exist in expertise? Activism? Social justice aims?
Bodies | Who can participate? What does it mean to study food and agriculture at the site of the body? How is the body sited in space and nature? How do we interact with our bodily non-human others? How is food embodied? Which bodies have rights? How are bodies mobilized in different food and agriculture labor regimes? How is (un)healthiness written on to body size?
Nature | How do political, social, and economic constructions shape non-human nature? What place for agriculture in a discussion of nature? How can we incorporate understandings of the Anthropocene in food and agriculture work? In what ways do critical food geographies intersect with climate change? In what ways can critical food geographies inform on wildness/wilderness? What are the necessary conversations at the intersection of space/bodies/nature?
The event featured a Community Voices Workshop where we addressed questions focused on what kind of food system we want to participate in, including:
1. What are the existing resources we have at the university?
2. What are the needs and desires of the community?
3. What connections can be made?
Rethinking the Food System: Symposium engages food justice scholars, students and activists (Jolly Van-Bodegraven, 22 May 2018)
The Symposium closed with an inspiring keynote from Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé:
Power, Democracy, and the Future of Food
In this energizing keynote, national bestselling authors and mother-daughter duo explored the intersections between power, democracy, and what’s on our plates. With their signature blend of critical analysis and hopeful solutions, the Lappé’s seek answers to big questions: How do we free ourselves from scarcity scaremongering to build real power? Where can we find examples of communities catalyzing democratic change to create a more sustainable and just food system? Sharing examples from around the country, and pulling from a collective 70 years’ experience writing and thinking about the root causes of hunger, the Lappé’s offer surprising insights and an inspiring multi-generational perspective on one of the most persistent paradoxes of our time: Hunger amidst plenty.
The event was sponsored by the Office of Graduate and Professional Education, with co-sponsors: College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment; College of Arts and Sciences; and the Department of Geography. Event Website.
Food Studies activities at the University of Oregon
Following the success of the 2010 Food Justice conference (see below), I participated in the initiative to establish a food studies program at the University of Oregon. We officially launched the Food Studies Initiative in 2012 with our program “Growing UOFOOD: Developing a Signature Food Studies Program” and in 2013 were proud to announce the launch of the Graduate Specialization in the new University of Oregon Food Studies Program.
- (2013-2014) Served as the Program Assistant and Graduate Specialization Advisor for the Food Studies Program
- (2013) Established graduate specialization in Food Studies within the Environmental Studies Program with grant funding provided by the University of Oregon Graduate School, grant co-author with Dr. Stephen Wooten, Dr. Daniel Buck, Dr. Michael Fahkri, Dr. Jennifer Burns Levin and Brooke Havlik ($10,000)
- (2012) Received University of Oregon, College of Arts and Sciences Program Grant Award, “Growing UO Food,” grant co-author with Dr. Stephen Wooten ($6,000)
Geography of Local Food Systems (2011-2014)
I developed and taught a course that focused on the dynamics of farming systems, food processing facilities, and the marketplace in the local context of Lane County. Topics ranged in scale from the microcosm of the individual garden to the small-scale polycultural systems of community supported farms to large-scale monoculture farms. This course explored the political, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of local agriculture and food production. In particular the course emphasized three geographical topics of food: 1) The political economy of food production; 2) food production and the environment; and 3) food and culture. The course was structured around experience and engagement at field sites, through participant observation and experiential learning. Additionally, each day students enjoyed a shared meal and discussion of the origins, and make-up, and taste of our food.
This is a freshman introductory immersion course focused on local food experience in which students camp on farmland, spend time with farmers in their fields, and conduct the annual tomato harvest at the UO Urban Farm on campus, which they then transform into pizza sauce for the UO dormitory kitchens and will later enjoy as pizza in the dorm hall with their peers. It is run by the Community for Ecological Leaders. I facilitated the fall 2013 group.
Organized by Allison Carruth, I coordinated this conference in 2011, which focused on bringing together an interdisciplinary group of academics, community members, and policymakers to discuss issues of community food justice, regional food issues and networks.