Preston Public Interest Career Fund Recipient
Walking down the snack aisle in Hannaford and then moving to the produce section, I can’t help but notice that chips cost less than a tomato. I want to change that. I’m privileged to attend a school and come from a home where healthy food is accessible to me, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I see the food system as an important vehicle to advance social and environmental causes. I chose to apply for a fellowship at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston because I have a strong and longstanding interest in food access and food justice work.
I believe that access to healthy food is a human right. Currently, our food system favors large- scale farms that jeopardize land, air, and water quality, human health, and local growers. Subsidies make unhealthy food cheaper than nutritious options, and we throw away a tremendous amount of usable produce every day, yet people are hungry. Addressing these issues supports local economies, helps the environment, builds community, fosters connection to place, and improves health outcomes. In the long term, I hope to advance these causes through large- scale policy reform. However, it is essential that I first work with programs on the ground to better understand the problems facing communities and familiarize myself with different models to address those challenges. This fellowship will offer me that opportunity.
As a fellow at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, I’ll build upon the skills I’ve developed through my previous work and volunteer experiences. I was a camp counselor last summer during which time I developed valuable leadership and organizational skills and had the opportunity to work with children in a garden setting. At the Nutrition Center, I would expand on these skills and gain experience working with communities different from those I’ve been involved with before.
I’ve worked on farms for a number of years and will bring that experience with me to the Nutrition Center as well. In high school, I spent the summer after my sophomore year working on a permaculture farm, the spring of my junior year at an agriculture-focused semester program in Vermont, and worked on Waltham Fields Community Farm (WFCF) for the next three growing seasons. I now seek a more comprehensive view of non-profit involvement in local food systems and communities.
The Nutrition Center has been very receptive to my specific areas of interest and has helped me design an internship that, while offering a survey of the organization, will also focus on food waste reduction and redistribution efforts. I believe the food system is broken but fixable, and small-scale efforts are proving to be effective and efficient mechanisms of change. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to build upon my skills and experiences and look forward to expanding my understanding of grassroots efforts to change local food systems. I’m confident also that this experience will make me more qualified and informed to pursue large-scale system reform in the future.
- Date September 22, 2017
- Tags 2017, Preston, Social Service, Sophomore, USA