The Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center has released its annual class of New York City’s 40 individuals under 40 years old who are working to transform the food system. The Center’s honorees include policymakers, educators, community advocates, farmers, and innovators who are making significant strides to create healthier, more sustainable food environments and to use food to promote community and economic development.
The 40 under 40 roster reflects the Center’s broad perspective around food policy, specifically, that food policies are not simply regulations imposed by governmental bodies; we believe that food policy impacts millions of New Yorkers every day, at home and at work, as well as our surrounding environmental, community and economic ecosystems.
Grew up in: St. Davids, PA (Suburbs of Philadelphia)
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Research and School Partnerships, Community Food Advocates
Background and Education: In my role at Community Food Advocates, I explore data, context, and partnerships to monitor school meal programs and inform our advocacy. I arrived at food advocacy by way of linguistics, psychology, public health, and childhood education.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Confused
Food policy hero: Agnes Molnar
Your breakfast this morning: Oatmeal with peaches
Favorite food: Grapefruit
Favorite last meal on Earth: Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup
Favorite food hangout and why: Any form of picnicking or eating outdoors – nothing like combining the joys of food and fresh air.
Social media must follow: @thenapministry
Grew up in: Sleepy Hollow, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Farmer, Rocksteady Farm and Flowers
Background and Education: I immersed myself in the urban farming world in 2015 as an eager Community Apprentice at the Bushwick Campus Farm. At that time, I supported youth programming for the Healthy Bodega Project and became the school liaison overseeing educational programming on the farm the following season. I simultaneously weaved relationships with Grove Street Community Farm, the Farm School community, and KCC Urban Farm where I worked as the weekend irrigator. In 2017, I became the Farm Educator and KCC Urban Farm offering Continuing Education courses, coordinating volunteer days, farm tours, and co-training paid-student aides on the farm. Now I am continuing on this earth stewardship path as a farmer with Rocksteady Farm and Flowers, which serves NYC through CSA memberships.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Racist
Food policy hero: Fannie Lou Hamer
Your breakfast this morning: Bread (made my neighbor), Rocksteady salad greens, lambs quarter, and nettle pesto (from Hattie Carthan Community Garden) and an egg!
Favorite food: Huevos rancheros with salsa verde
Last meal on Earth: Chile relleno with white mole from La Morada in the Bronx
Favorite food hangout and why: Farm crew lunch hangouts at KCC Urban Farm, sharing delicious food featuring veggies from the farm and good laughs that nourished our collective spirit to continue farming for our community.
Social media must follow: @rocksteadyfarm @bkrot @reclaimseednyc @seedkeeping @maydayspace @kccurbanfarm @cuirkitchenbrigade @criticalresistance
Grew up in: Kingston, Jamaica
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Food Programs, New York Common Pantry
Background and Education: Prior to joining the fight against hunger and poverty, André has held management positions at organizations across NYC and Westchester that support people in need. These areas include health; Medicaid; case management; supportive housing; and adult day services and employment programs. He has wide experience in health policy and over the past number of years has studied and worked toward addressing the social determinants of health, as well as care coordination. Since 2011, he has also worked within and across organizations to develop programs and strategy in response to emerging public health policies impacting community-based providers. These reforms include Medicaid redesign, DSRIP, Value-Based Payment and other areas. André received his Masters degree in Public Administration from Baruch College in 2013 and is currently the Director of Food Programs at New York Common Pantry. In addition to providing food to people in need, André has been an advocate for addressing the link between food insecurity and health. In his tenure at NYCP he has worked on developing technology that enables pantry members to select food choices based on their medical conditions. Over the past three years at NYCP, André vastly expanded food rescue systems and strategic partnerships with NYC food establishments to avoid food waste while fighting hunger. New York Common Pantry is dedicated to reducing hunger and promoting dignity, health and self-sufficiency.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Wasteful
Food policy hero: Joel Berg
Your breakfast this morning: Bagel and cream cheese and coffee
Favorite food: Chicken soup
Last meal on Earth: Curried chicken
Favorite food hangout and why: The Door Caribbean restaurant, because it tastes authentically like home.
Social media must follow: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Grew up in: New Jersey
Job Title/Organization or Company: Senior Project Coordinator, NYC Parks GreenThumb
Background and Education: I’ve been working at NYC Parks GreenThumb since 2015, starting out as a Bronx Outreach Coordinator then transitioning to a Project Planner and currently working in a Step-Up position as a Senior Project Coordinator for the Community Garden Improvement Program. In my time at GreenThumb I have decided to take a personal interest in revitalizing and redesigning gardens that have been under-resourced and underutilized while emphasizing the community’s power in sparking social change in their neighborhood by way of community gardening. My intentions are always centered around the origins of community gardens and how I am able to support our community gardeners on multiple levels – through strengthening neighborhood networks, cultivating community leaders, and encouraging community-led decision-making. Prior to GreenThumb, I got my start in NYC at the Lower East Side Ecology Center in 2013 as a NYC Compost Project Organics Recovery Coordinator. #SaveOurCompost I hold an M.S. in Nonprofit Management, specializing in Food Systems and the Environment from The New School and a B.F.A in Photography and Art History from Rutgers University.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Ill-equipped
Food policy hero: Qiana Mickie | Food Systems & Equity Consultant and 2019-2020 HEAL Alliance School for Political Leadership Cohort Member
Your breakfast this morning: Pork roll, Egg, and Cheese on a roll with coffee and a plum
Favorite food: Argentinian asado
Last meal on Earth: The corner piece of my mom’s lasagna
Favorite food hangout and why: Anywhere there’s good food and good conversation.
Social media must follow: @blklivesmatter @peoplespowerassemblynyc @nycdsa @cityworkers4nyc @lesecologyctr @saveourcompost @greenthumbgrows @latinooutdoors
Grew up in: White Plains, New York
Job Title/Organization or Company: Teacher- School Wellness Coach, NYC DOE Office of School Wellness Programs
Background and Education: I started teaching 14 years ago, my first 6 years were in East Harlem, where I was an elementary school teacher and began creating school wellness programs, from a school-wide snack policy in collaboration with the NYC DOHMH, edible school garden, parenting wellness workshops and the creation of our School Wellness Council, cooking classes and more. I was able to focus on creating programs and policies that met the needs of our students and the school community. I then moved to be a founding staff member of a new school in Brooklyn, where wellness and sustainability were at the heart of the school’s mission. I started as the Magnet Coordinator for two years and then taught wellness as a cluster subject for grades Pre-K-5, where we focused on school food, food policy, sustainability, school gardens, local produce, family workshops, cooking, advocacy and more. After ten years of teaching in the classroom, I joined the Office of School Wellness Programs to support teachers, administration, school staff, and students around starting School Wellness Councils where they could advocate and work towards wellness change in their schools.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Broken
Food policy hero: Alice Waters- When I read (and then later visited) about her work with local school gardens, I knew I could do this in NYC as well. Despite the massive land and space in California, I knew this could be done here in NYC and did it in both the schools I worked in and now advocate for this work with schools across the city. I also got to meet her after a lecture at Stone Barns and share some of the work I have done. Also Michael Pollen- I used to have my students illustrate his book “Food Rules.” Nothing like a great crayon drawing illustrating food rules. 🙂
Your breakfast this morning: Homemade sourdough with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Favorite food hangout and why: Vegan Shop Up, a monthly run event at Pine Box Rock Shop in Brooklyn that highlights local plant-based small businesses. They have also quickly adjusted during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to safely, and distantly bring people ‘together’ to continue to support these businesses, especially now. You used to often find me here, eating delicious eats and chatting about food, food policy, and ways to bring about positive change.
Grew up in: All over the USA
Job Title/Organization or Company: Program Director/Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
Background and Education: Preventing waste and giving back to the community have been instilled in me from childhood. While attending St. John’s University I was a member of the inaugural class of the Ozanam Scholars Program, which is dedicated to understanding and addressing global and local social justice issues through academics and research as well as community service. My four years at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine have ignited my passion for solving food waste and hunger, and I’m so proud of the impact our team has made in NYC, Massachusetts, and the other cities in which we operate.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Suffering
Food policy hero: All of the dedicated rescuers and volunteers at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and the staff at every one of our partner human service agencies
Your breakfast this morning: A granny smith apple
Favorite food: Anything Italian and curly fries
Last meal on Earth: Pierogies with sour cream
Favorite food hangout and why: Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the home of my favorite pizza ever. Proper Food has amazing, healthy, and filling grab-and-go meals, and Breads Bakery has seriously delicious pastries and other baked treats (and both donate their excess food from all locations every day!).
Social media must follow: @curbalertnyc and @budgetbytes
Grew up in: Lima, Peru; Paterson and Clifton, NJ
Job Title/Organization or Company: Project Coordinator, NYC Parks GreenThumb
Background and Education: I received a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Hunter College and a Graduate Certificate in Community Development from Montclair State University. My research focused on the global market expansion of quinoa and the local impacts on small-scale Andean farmers in southern Peru. I completed graduate school while working as a case manager for people with disabilities where I learned about the limited social services that exist for marginalized people. During this time, I was also introduced to the world of food and farming and sought to work with communities in addressing systemic inequities in the food system. In both my previous work at City Green in Northern New Jersey and in NYC Parks GreenThumb in the Bronx, I have worked with communities of color to develop and sustain community gardens and urban farms through a food sovereignty lens. As an educator, I have worked as an adjunct professor in food systems and as a workshop facilitator on food justice for youth and adults. I’m also a gardener and community composter, and volunteer with various food justice grassroots groups.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unsettling
Food policy hero: Leah Penniman and the rest of the Soul Fire Farm team
Your breakfast this morning: Oatmeal with blueberries
Favorite food: Papa a la huancaína
Last meal on Earth: Native Andean potatoes with huancaina sauce plus any quinoa dish using Peruvian pepper pastes and herbs
Favorite food hangout and why: Panaderia Pampa in Paterson, NJ. This Peruvian bakery reminds me of the many bakeries in Lima with the most delicious fresh bread, desserts, and emoliente.
Social media must follow: @soulfirefarm @reclaimseednyc @paterson_green_acre @greenthumbgrows @woodycrestycrestcommunitygardenbx @seedkeeping @thecookinggene @blackculinary @browngirlfarming @realfoodmedia @happyhealthylatina @veggiemijas @nomorechichos @cuirkitchenbrigade @milkcrategardens @blackzocalo @rimayraiz @maketheroadnj @food.anthro @saphichay @kccubran farm
Grew up in: Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY, currently in Newark, NJ
Job Title/Organization or Company: Communications Manager, WhyHunger; a grassroots support organization who believes hunger is a solvable problem and works with social movements and grassroots organizations to combat the root causes of hunger and poverty.
Background and Education: BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute; community advocate and activist, working/campaigning with community-based organizations and elected officials in East New York, Brooklyn, and now in Newark. New urban gardener!
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unjust.
Food policy hero: To get particular, I’d have to name a few and say, Suzanne Babb, Lorrie Clevenger & Alison Cohen, from WhyHunger’s Programs Department and our ED, Noreen Springstead. The knowledge and wherewithal they possess makes it a humbling honor to work with them on addressing the injustices that exist in the systemic framework of our food system and amplifying the stories of partnering social movements and grassroots organizations, here and abroad, who have been making a difference in our global food system, right on the ground; Overall, really, it’s a long list of those I’ve gotten to know and have yet to meet that are passionately emboldened to combat not only hunger but the systemic, root causes of it and build a more just food system and world.
Your breakfast this morning: Turkey bacon, avocado, egg, and cheddar on a roll. Oh, and coffee!
Favorite food: I’m probably one of the few kids who grew up loving Broccoli and Spinach, and now Kale over the past few years, haha.
Last meal on Earth: I’d be pretty content with my breakfast this morning, except make it egg white and an everything bagel. Oh, and add kale in the mix. Now we’re talking.
Favorite food hangout and why: Home (that’s where the heart is, of course) & more recently the community garden my wife and I are part of in Newark. There’s no joy and therapy like knowing I’m growing & nurturing my own food, organically; I love African Restaurants, particularly Amarachi’s in Brooklyn, very welcoming, delicious food, great music; Brick House Market across the street from my house, they’re always friendly, very convenient (for me) considering the food options they have for breakfast and lunch, from healthy to cheat meal items. I find this to be important access to have, especially in low-income communities, where that range of access to more nutritious food options tends to be a challenge to find, which in turn creates greater space for food insecurities to thrive. I’m looking to assist in the shift of that landscape of food justice as much as possible in the community as I continue to get acclimated.
Social media must follow: WhyHunger (of course!): @WhyHungerFans (FB) @whyhungerpix (IG) @WhyHunger (Twitter & LinkedIn); Rise & Root Farm, @riseandrootfarm (IG); Universe City NYC, @universecitynyc (IG); Soul Fire Farm, @soulfirefarm (IG). I’m pretty big on Instagram out of all the social networks.
Grew up in: Baras, Rizal Philippines
Job Title/Organization or Company: Senior Manager, Food Access and Capacity at City Harvest
Background and Education: Born and raised in the Philippines, Immigrated in the US at 19, Attended National College of Business and Arts (Philippines), Marketing Major-undergraduate
One word you would use to describe our food system: Diverse
Food policy hero: Leah Penniman and David De Vaughn
Your breakfast this morning: Leftover braised short ribs, garlic fried rice with sunny-side-up egg
Favorite food: Dried mango
Last meal on Earth: Chicken or Pork Belly Adobo
Favorite food hangout and why: Our House! We love to cook and entertain
Social media must follow: @privtoprog, @foodcurated, @skeeternyc, @joannagaines
Doreece T Dyer
Grew up in: Staten Island, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: City-based Program Manager for The Sylvia Center: an organization specializing in youth development and hands-on nutrition education.
Background and Education: I had always loved culinary arts while growing up, but ran from it. No matter how far or fast I would run, it always caught up to me. After being in a car accident with a fire truck 10 years ago and being unable to return to my job as a commercial painter, I gave in. I decided to do something to feed my soul. I became a culinary arts major and received my AAS from CUNY Kingsborough with honors. During my first semester, I worked with Tourism and Hospitality as a Program Assistant and Assistant to the Director of Culinary Arts, Dr. Jonathan Deutsch. He became my mentor and helped me to see my potential. Under his guidance, I continued to grow on campus and quickly transitioned from a Purchaser’s Assistant into a Culinary College Lab Technician. Shortly thereafter, I wore many hats that I contribute to the forces in my life, Jon Deutsch, Thom Smyth, and Lorne Feldman.
It was Lorne Feldman who requested a substitute chef for a program near and dear to my heart, Fortune Society, a reentry program with a mission of “Building People, Not Prisons”. I started as a sub, grew to a Co-Chef instructor, and at some point became the Chef Instructor and Sanitarian. While instructing for Fortune, I met a representative for Queen’s Connect, a young adult culinary job readiness program. I became their Baking Instructor and worked my way to Head Chef. A little over a year ago, a friend introduced me to the Sylvia Center, where I now call home. I have been teaching teens culinary arts, nutrition, and food justice as a Community Chef and am now the City-based Program Manager. On a personal note, I am also a cake decorator.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Biased
Food policy hero: Karen Washington
Your breakfast this morning: Steel cut oats with cinnamon and brown sugar
Favorite food: Lemon and herb buttered pasta with bright yet bitter broccoli rabe
Last meal on Earth: Southern Thanksgiving complete with collard greens, baked Mac and cheese, chicken, ham, turkey, cornbread stuffing, and banana pudding. All from scratch.
Favorite food hangout and why: Naruto Ramen. Jalen, my teenage son, and I like to frequent Naruto together. It’s the only thing we agree on. We bond over food.
Social media must follow: @cookbringithome @blackearthfarms @mustloveefood @foodfireknives @blackfoodie.co
Grew up in: Brooklyn, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Content Coordinator, Food Tank
Background and Education: Raised in Brooklyn, I earned a B.A. in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience from Grinnell College. After moving back to New York, I earned an M.A. in Food Studies from NYU, where I focused on food policy and advocacy. While pursuing my Masters degree, I worked with several food justice organizations, including WhyHunger and A Growing Culture. I am currently working with Food Tank to continue sharing stories to help build a stronger, more sustainable food system.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Inequitable
Food policy hero: Dr. Monica White
Your breakfast this morning: Iced coffee
Favorite food: Everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, lox, tomato, and capers
Last meal on Earth: Penne with zucchini and mint from the Franny’s cookbook
Favorite food hangout and why: Mimi’s Hummus and Wheated in Brooklyn. They’re two great restaurants in my neighborhood. I know I can always go there to catch up with friends and have a good meal.
Social media must follow: Racist Sandwich and Tamar Haspel
Grew up in: Phoenix, Arizona
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director, Food Waste Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Background and Education: As the director of food waste in the Healthy People & Thriving Communities program, Elizabeth Balkan helps to catalyze and scale food waste reduction from businesses and consumers at the local and national levels. Previously, Balkan served as director of policy at the New York City Department of Sanitation, developing and implementing the city’s zero-waste plan. Before that, she worked as a senior official in the mayor’s office during the Bloomberg administration. She has worked extensively with cities to make sustainable development economically viable in the developed and developing context and spent more than 10 years working and living in China. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s from Georgetown University. She is based in the New York office.
One word you would use to describe our food system: wasteful ☹
Food policy hero: Mary Cleaver
Your breakfast this morning: Can I make one adjustment? Our strawberries have finally ripened! So, this morning I enjoyed a parfait of steel-cut oats, slivered raw almonds, homemade yogurt, early spring honey from the Hudson Valley, with fresh strawberries from the garden! And a cappuccino, always.
Favorite food: Fresh figs or any tropical fruit eaten close to the source
Last meal on Earth: A vegetarian mezze feast finished off with pot de crème
Favorite food hangout and why: Our family kitchen table. Just as I grew up eating dinner every night with my family, I now do the same – as well as breakfast and lunch during the pandemic! – with my husband and children and relish these moments we have with each other, breaking bread and sharing the best moments of the day with one another.
Social media must follow: I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing sustainable food and zero waste heroes, including: @fab_scrap, @trashisfortossers, @strongestnyc, @tableandtilth, @cleaverco, my husband’s company @croptocup and of course @nrdc_org (check out the food channel!)
Grew up in: The Dominican Republic until age 10, and NYC ever since.
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Research, Hunger Free America
Background and Education: Emilio is a DREAMer from the Dominican Republic, he moved here at age 10 and earned a psychology degree and social work master’s degree through the CUNY system. He spent the last eight years of his career in the non-profit sector supporting a number of marginalized communities: LGBTQ+ individuals, immigrant families, senior citizens, formerly incarcerated individuals, and those dealing with mental illness and substance abuse. He’s worked at prominent agencies such as The LGBT Center, Part of the Solution (POTS), and at the NYC Public Advocate’s Office. After providing direct services for many years, Emilio became passionate about advocating for systemic change in our public policy at every level of government to reach a more holistic delivery of social services.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Ignored
Food policy hero: Shirley Chisholm
Your breakfast this morning: Hard-boiled eggs and coffee
Favorite food: Cheese!
Last meal on Earth: Lasagna
Favorite food hangout: My best friend’s house, he loves food and to make gourmet meals by hand.
Social media must follow: Everyone should follow Hunger Free America for updates on the most forward-looking proposals we can use to make our food systems more equitable and sustainable:
Gabriela Pereyra, PhD
Grew up in: Caracas, Venezuela
Job Title/Organization or Company: Beginning Farmer Program Manager at GrowNYC
Background and Education: Gabriela Pereyra holds a Dr. rer. nat. in Geosciences from the Friedrich-Schiller-University completed at the Department of Biogeochemical Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany; an MSc in Agriculture from Hohenheim University (Germany) and a BSc in Biology from the Central University of Venezuela. Currently, she oversees the Beginning Farmer program at GrowNYC that assists mostly Black, Indigenous and People of Color farmers with land access opportunities and agricultural business development. She also has helped to develop a bilingual curriculum for improving management skills, sustainable farming, and equitable economy. For the past three years, she has assisted directly in the creation of more than 20 farm businesses.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Oppressive
Food policy hero: Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta and every farmworker
Your breakfast this morning: Arepa with scrambled eggs
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite last meal on Earth: Fosforera from Playa Puinare in Mochima, Venezuela
Favorite food hangout and why: Lazy Sunday brunch with my wife at Stella’s coffee shop in Jamaica, Queens
Social media must follow: @rowenwhite, @reclaimseednyc, @seedkeeping, @veggiemomclub,@cuirkitchenbrigade, @climingpoetree
Grew up in: San Francisco, CA
Job Title/Organization or Company: Co-Founder & Policy Director, Equity Advocates
Background and Education: Over the last ten years Gabrielle has worked as a food policy analyst with New York-based government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she worked as a Senior Research and Policy Analyst for GRACE Communication Foundation’s food program, where she wrote about and researched food and agriculture issues, promoted program initiatives and contributed to strategy development and execution. Before joining GRACE in 2014, Gabrielle was the Policy Associate at Wholesome Wave where she was responsible for organizing and managing five national conferences for the organization’s farmers’ market partners. Working directly with national farmers’ market organizations and advocacy groups, she oversaw Wholesome Wave’s successful grassroots campaign to fight cuts to the national SNAP program and establish the $100 Million Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program in the 2014 Farm Bill. Through this work, she managed many of the organization’s relationships with municipal and federal policymakers and developed all of the external and internal policy documents, reports, and presentations. While completing her master’s thesis, Gabrielle worked as a food policy intern in NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office where she served as the head researcher for the Speaker’s landmark 2010 FoodWorks report. She holds an MPA in Public and NonProfit Management and Policy from New York University and BAs in Political Science and Sociology from the University of California, Davis.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Fixable
Food policy hero: Gus Schumacher
Your breakfast this morning: Scrambled eggs, bread with butter, peach slices and a coffee (or 3)
Favorite food: Fresh cherries
Last meal on Earth: A really big piece of lemon poppyseed cake.
Favorite food hangout and why: My kitchen. I love to cook for my friends and family. Feeding people brings me joy.
Social media must follow: Krystal Ball, host of The Hill TV’s show Rising
Grew up in: Hong Kong until age 9, then Princeton Junction, NJ until 18
Job Title/Organization or Company: Deputy Director of Policy, Office of the Manhattan Borough President
Background and Education: B.A., Cornell University; M.P.A., CUNYBaruch College via the National Urban Fellows program. In terms of food policy, I have been managing the 1 Centre Street Municipal Building Fresh Food Box program in partnership with GrowNYC since 2014. I also work with the NYC Department of Sanitation and members of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board on zero waste issues, which include diverting organics away from landfills through food donation, composting, and renewable energy generation.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Generative
Food policy hero: People who provide food for the hungry during the Covid-19 crisis are my heroes. I’d like to give a shout out, in particular, to staff and volunteers at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service (LSA), located in East Harlem where I live. During the height of the pandemic, LSA kept its Wednesday pantry open and served over 780 people in one day. LSA and the New York Common Pantry, another great organization in East Harlem, have started an initiative with the Randall’s Island Park Alliance to serve fresh produce donated by the island’s urban farm to pantry participants.
Your breakfast this morning: Homemade cranberry loaf bread (made from Fresh Food Box ingredients!)
Favorite food: Noodles, coated in a savory and spicy sauce
Last meal on Earth: A full omakase experience
Favorite food hangout and why: My favorite neighborhood food hangout place is Quesadillas Doña Maty on E 116th Street between Second and Third Avenues. The restaurant started out as a food cart and was so beloved that it eventually moved into its current cozy storefront, perfect for grabbing dinner with a friend but also surprisingly big enough to hold a group of 12. My favorite is the spicy pork taco—with their homemade green sauce! It’s also my late-dinner spot. When I’m too tired to cook after a long day, I would stop by to grab some tacos or quesadillas to-go before walking the final five minutes back to my apartment.
Social media must follow: Uptown Grand Central at @uptown_grand (Twitter), @uptowngrandcentral (Instagram), and Uptown Grand Central – NHEMA (Facebook)
Grew up in: San Antonio, TX
Job Title/Organization or Company: Manager, Nutrition Programs, United Way of NYC
Background and Education: My food systems consciousness got activated in 7th grade when my science teacher, Mrs. Sobey, taught a unit on factory farming and its environmental repercussions. I’ve been a vegetarian to varying degrees ever since! After graduating from NYU with a BA in Spanish and Comparative Literature, I planned to go into bilingual education, but my career path changed after working in schools and seeing so many students suffering from lack of access to healthful foods. I trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, got an MS in Nutrition Science from Hunter College, where I also completed my dietetic internship – woo Hunter! I worked with a number of school-based nutrition and culinary education programs, including Wellness in the Schools and Beecher’s Foundation, before coming to work more directly in the food access and emergency food space, first with City Harvest, and now with United Way of NYC.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Exposed
Food policy hero: Michael W. Twitty, an incredible culinary historian of traditional African American foodways and explorer of what Twitty calls “identity cooking,” or “how we construct complex identities and then express them through how we eat.” Twitty’s identity cooking is Kosher/Soul, “melding the histories, tastes, flavors, and Diasporic wisdom of being Black and being Jewish.” The mingling of Jewish and Mexican culture and cuisine in my own family is what draws me to Twitty’s work.
Your breakfast this morning: Oats to the max – oats soaked in oat milk, with pumpkin seeds and cinnamon
Favorite food: Any and all BEANS
Last meal on Earth: Black bean soup with a tall glass of seltzer
Favorite food hangout and why: My friend Tal makes the most incredible Shabbat meals – nothing better than “unplugged” time around a table with friends at the end of the week, eating Tal’s burekas and salatim! It is one thing I have missed so much during quarantine.
Social media must follow: #beans
Grew up in: New York City
Job Title/Organization or Company: FRESH Director, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Background and Education: Grew up in New York City. First got into food policy in high school while studying environmental science and after reading about Hot Bread Kitchen in the New York Times when one of their breads was mentioned in a “best breads of NYC” type article. Studied International Studies with a concentration on Islamic Studies and Sub-Saharan Africa at Kenyon College in Ohio. Currently a candidate for a Master’s in Public Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unjust
Food policy hero: Jessamyn Rodriguez – if I hadn’t learned about Hot Bread Kitchen in high school I don’t know if I would have developed such an early and lasting interest in the various ways that food can connect us, protect us and lift us up.
Your breakfast this morning: Organic cold brew (I’ve been buying bulk on tap boxes from Wandering Bear Coffee since working from home), sourdough crackers with jam and a local New York State brie-style goat cheese from Lively Run Farm from the Greene Hill Food Co-op because I’m an insufferable Brooklynite.
Favorite food: Guac and chips
Last meal on Earth: Perhaps ideal last meal on earth instead of favorite, haha! I would probably get a really big slice of coconut cake from Brooklyn Baby Cakes on Nostrand in Bed Stuy and a slice of Chocolate Chess pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds…. With a latte. Does this count as a meal?
Favorite food hangout and why: Colina Cuervo in Crown Heights! I have a lot of great memories of meeting friends for breakfast here, and I miss the cozy atmosphere and the neighborhood feeling and warmth of the owner and staff. I am still hopeful they’ll open for dinner in the future…
Social media must follow: https://twitter.com/jskosman; https://www.linkedin.com/in/jskosman/
Grew up in: Easton, PA
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Supply Chain Engagement, FoodCorps
Background and Education: I was raised on a combination of home-cooked meals of family heritage (Italian and Chinese) and your classic fast foods for a busy family. I studied painting at a big university and worked in the art world for nearly a decade, all the while building a restless curiosity for where our food comes from. With a lot of support not afforded to most beginning farmers, I quit my day job and started a farm selling produce to wholesale markets in the Mid-Atlantic (RIP Relay Foods). Then I moved to Philadelphia to become the first Outreach Associate at The Common Market and cut my teeth on food systems and institutional supply chains while selling local food to hospitals and public schools. Now I’m at FoodCorps, working to reorient the public school food system toward more equitable outcomes for students, farmers, and everyone in between.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Misdirected
Food policy hero: Ricardo Salvador; Marion Nestle for her unwavering voice of reason; Eliot Coleman for helping me develop a mindset to practice sustainability on a farm, and for showing us what’s possible all four seasons, even in Maine.
Your breakfast this morning: Full fat yogurt from Pequea Valley with mango and homemade granola
Favorite food: Pickles
Last meal on Earth: Mom’s pot roast
Favorite food hangout: Anywhere my family is gathering because there will be food – lots of it. And cocktails. There’s just something about bringing loved ones together around the act of cooking and eating; it feels like home.
Social media must follow: I’m a bad millennial and don’t follow social media, but I’ll put in a plug for Adrienne Maree Brown, and Jennifer Gaddis because everyone should read “Labor of Lunch”
Joshua Thomas- Serrano
Grew up in: East New York/Brownsville, Brooklyn
Job Title/Organization or Company: Senior Marketing and Development Manager/Teens for Food Justice
Background and Education: I received a B.A. in public policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. I’m currently pursuing an MPA at the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. Before Teens for Food Justice, I served as an AmeriCorps Public Ally at Fair Chance D.C. where my work focused on partner communications and new partner outreach. I began my career working as a Research Assistant on the Institute for Policy Studies’ Criminalization of Poverty Project, exploring the growing ways in which poor people are disproportionately targeted, marginalized, and prosecuted. I am also a former New Economy Maryland Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Inequitable
Food policy hero: Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast for School Children program
Your breakfast this morning: Egg & cheese sandwich and coffee
Favorite food: Split pea soup
Last meal on Earth: Bún Chả
Favorite food hangout and why: My mom’s house. There’s nothing like a good home-cooked meal!
Social media must follow: IG: @teensforfoodjustice Twitter: @tffjinitiative
Grew up in: Philadelphia, New Orleans, Tokyo
Job Title/Organization or Company: Interim Deputy Director, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy
Background and Education: I taught second grade for several years and have worked at NRDC, CSPI, and FDA. I have a law degree from NYU.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Stumbling
Food policy hero: Fannie Lou Hamer
Your breakfast this morning: Eggs with my new favorite green hot sauce
Favorite food: Just one? Currently hard to get my mind off Tcho Toffee and Sea Salt Chocolate bars.
Last meal on Earth: Shrimp and grits, summer sugar snap peas, strawberries, and a glass of cold white wine.
Favorite food hangout and why: My parents’ kitchen. Food is love.
Social media must follow: Robert Reich (@RBReich) and Tim Wu (@superwuster): neither are food follows, but they both tweet some real zingers.
Grew up in: Rapid City, South Dakota / Acton, Massachusetts
Job Title/Organization or Company: Senior Manager of Business Development, Hot Bread Kitchen
Background and Education: My studies at the University of Virginia in Religious Studies and Social Inequality in Political Perspective motivated questions of access and inclusion that I’ve followed through my nonprofit career. After five years of fundraising and program work at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, I took some time to reassess my direction and deepen my connection with food and wellness on an organic farm on the west coast. I spent another year working at a natural food outfit in Massachusetts before returning to NYC, where I had the chance to join Hot Bread Kitchen. Our work helps women, immigrants, and people of color thrive as workers and entrepreneurs within the food ecosystem. I spend my time advocating for good food jobs, particularly at the entry-level, and helping the talented women who graduate from our culinary training program start their careers in food. A number of our graduates are front-line workers, so we are more focused than ever on helping to make the food system more conscious and more equitable.
One word you would use to describe our food system: fragmented
Food policy hero: Not policy-makers, but the farm workers who harvest our food and play a critical role in the supply chain (but are often overlooked and are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic) are doing heroic work
Your breakfast this morning: avocado, egg, and cheddar on toasted, buttered sourdough
Favorite food: Matzo ball soup
Last meal on Earth: An anchovy-heavy romaine caesar salad, grilled oysters, cacio e pepe, a giant cheese plate…
Favorite food hangout and why: My parents’ house. My Dad and I usually cook together using the produce they’ve grown in their vegetable garden, and they often have friends, neighbors, and members of their synagogue over to play music. Food has always been a means for connection and community for me, and their community members are a great hang.
Social media must follow: @rwcfusa (Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, a nonprofit that does great work to advocate for a more equitable and sustainable restaurant industry with a focus on racial justice, gender equity, mental health, and economic opportunity)
Grew up in: Suburbs of NYC (Westchester & Orange Counties, NY)
Job Title/Organization or Company: Program Manager, Bronx Health REACH/Institute for Family Health
Background and Education: After studying Nutritional Sciences & Dietetics at the University of Delaware, I felt called to study public health to better understand the social dimensions of racial and ethnic health disparities. I received my MPH from NYU, which I did while completing my dietetic internship with the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. When I first started working at Bronx Health REACH, I had an opportunity to be involved with organizing a Food, Faith & Health Disparities Summit with NY Faith & Justice. This sparked a passion to find creative ways to engage faith communities in creating better food systems, a path I continue to pursue, especially after participating in the Re:Generate Fellowship program of the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program of Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Industrialized
Food policy hero: Karen Washington
Your breakfast this morning: Whole grain cereal with blueberries and a peach
Favorite food: Eggplant parmesan
Last meal on Earth: Amaranth risotto with mushrooms
Favorite food hangout and why: I really enjoy hosting community dinners at my house because of the rich conversations which always ensue.
Social media must follow: Melinda Hemmelgarn’s Food Sleuth Radio @food_sleuth, HEAL Food Alliance @HEAL_Food, and Food and Faith Podcast @foodandfaithpod
Grew up in: Bronx, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Senior Manager, Network Capacity & Compliance
Background and Education: I earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from John Jay College. In my current role at City Harvest, I work alongside a few agency partners across NYC each year—particularly in high-need neighborhoods—and help deepen City Harvest’s relationships with them and assess if and how her team can support them to serve more people. I determine the specific techniques and infrastructural improvements to be implemented at these partner agencies to increase their capacity to feed New Yorkers in need. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have helped open 19 Emergency Food Distribution Sites in neighborhoods across the city, especially where community food programs have shut down, which distribute on average 2.4 million pounds a month.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Inequitable
Food policy hero: Tambra Raye
Your breakfast this morning: Oatmeal with berries
Favorite food: Korean dishes
Last meal on Earth: Korean Ramen
Favorite food hangout: A friend’s house is my favorite food hangout. You can sit and relax, let your hair down while sharing a meal, experiences, and ideas.
Social media must follow: Will Smith
Grew up in: I’m an army brat. My family was stationed abroad in Germany when I was born and I moved around every few years as a kid. I moved to NYC for college in 2004 and have been here ever since.
Job Title/Organization or Company: Regional Program Director, Brighter Bites
Background and Education: I hold a B.S. in Education from NYU and am a proud graduate of CUNY School of Public Health’s MPH program in Community Health. In my work, I hope to combine my passion for teaching with my desire to improve the health of NYC students. I started my career as an arts educator, primarily working in early childhood centers in the Bronx. While the arts were my first love, food and nutrition became my second calling after seeing my students and their families struggle to access healthy foods. My first role in the food world was as an Americorps for Share Our Strength delivering their Cooking Matters Program, followed by working as a program manager at City Harvest. What I love about Brighter Bites, where I work as Regional Director overseeing the New York City and Washington DC area programs, is that education and access go hand in hand. We make sure families have healthy foods in the home and we offer the tools to teach them how to use it. It sounds simple but in practice, I have heard from so many families (and see in our data) that it is also deeply impactful.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Fragmented
Food policy hero: Dr. Shreela Sharma, Brighter Bites co-founder.
Your breakfast this morning: I have an 8-month-old who started solids recently so all my meals seem to be his scraps. Cooking breakfast without having to rush out the door is an unexpected silver lining of quarantine. We’ve been making a lot of arugula and parmesan omelets.
Favorite food: Peanut butter
Last meal on Earth: Bahn Xeo (crispy pancake) at Mr. Bay Mien Tay’s in Hanoi. Quarantine has me quarandreaming about all the amazing meals I’ve been lucky enough to eat and how much farther away they seem now.
Favorite food hangout and why: I am currently obsessed with Boxalis, the pantry box pickup or delivery program from Oxalis near the Brooklyn Museum. Each week they do one date night menu that rotates flavors around the world and a highlight of my week is now waiting for the Tuesday menu announcement/dreaming about the meal until Friday finally rolls around. They also do brunch kits, CSA veggie boxes, wine, and more. In addition to being amazing quality and delicious food, they’ve been donating 50% of their profits to organizations fighting for Black Lives Matter. To give up a portion of their profits when they can’t even have their doors fully open…I’m just amazed.
Social media must follow: https://foodprint.org/ They do great work highlighting sustainability issues within the food world and offering different avenues for people to reduce their own footprint
Melissa Gallanter, RDN
Grew up in: East Brunswick, NJ
Job Title/Organization or Company: Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, Operations Manager
Background and Education: With a love for food and an ever-growing list of unanswered questions about the food system, I studied nutrition and public health at Boston University before heading south to complete my Dietetic Internship at Tulane University School of Public Health in order to become a Registered Dietitian.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Fixable (that’s why we’re here, right!?)
Food policy hero: Marion Nestle
Your breakfast this morning: Almond poppy seed pancakes with blueberries and peanut butter
Favorite food: A close tie between sweet potatoes and chocolate
Last meal on Earth: Baked mac and cheese
Favorite food hangout and why: My family’s kitchen table, where some of the best food and conversations are shared
Social media must follow: @robjgreenfield and @zerowastechef
Grew up in: Eastern Long Island
Job Title/Organization or Company: Executive Chef/Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
Background and Education: Attended Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, British Columbia. Moved to New York City in 2007 to work in fine dining and farm to table restaurants. In between kitchen jobs, apprenticed and volunteered on small farms.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Illusory
Food policy hero: Yemi Amu of Oko Farms
Your breakfast this morning: Pain au Chocolat
Favorite food: Sourdough bread
Last meal on Earth: Pasta with tomato sauce, sausage, braciole, chicory salad, red wine
Favorite food hangout and why: Minca Ramen Factory. I’ve been going there for 13 years and the same staff is still there making and serving. I get the same thing every time. Pure comfort food. I hope there will be enough aid for small neighborhood restaurants and that they will survive after the shutdown!
Social media must follow: I’m kind of a social media teetotaler…
Grew up in: Philadelphia, PA
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Student Life, Hunter College
Background and Education: After attending Dartmouth College, I worked as a field organizer for multiple political campaigns including the 2012 Obama for America campaign. After leaving campaign life behind, I was hired at Hunter, where I have worked for seven years, as a special assistant to the President of Hunter College and later became the Director of Student Life.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unbalanced
Food policy hero: Dr. Cindy Ayers Elliott of FootPrint Farms in Jackson, MS
Your breakfast this morning: Hard-boiled egg and a piece of toast!
Favorite food: Oxtail Stew
Last meal on Earth: A Thanksgiving Dinner
Favorite food hangout and why: Cascalote. It’s one of the best restaurants in New York that is totally family-owned and operated. It’s intimate, with the best food and drinks, and the friendliest staff. It feels like going home.
Social media must follow: @Footprintfarms
Monika Hansen (Wysocki)
Grew up in: Astoria, Queens
Job Title/Organization or Company: Deputy Chief of Staff to NYC “Food Czar” Kathryn Garcia
Background and Education: Currently serving as Deputy Chief of Staff at NYC Sanitation; previously worked on advancing progressive causes in immigration law, healthcare technology, and education.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Wasteful
Food policy hero: Marion Nestle is the undisputed hero, but recently I’m inspired by chefs that have moved beyond successful fine dining careers to chart new paths – Dan Giusti (Brigaid, freshly prepared meals for public school students) and Adam Kaye (The Spare Food Co, new products that design waste out of the food system)
Your breakfast this morning: Fruit and coffee
Favorite food: Just picked strawberries, still warm from the sun
Last meal on Earth: Chicken cutlets with mashed potatoes and carrots
Favorite food hangout and why: Our local Mexican restaurant across the street, where the bartender knows us by name and we have whatever he is inspired to make
Social media must follow: @nyczerowaste and @foodtank
Grew up in: Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: NYCHA Farm Manager /Red Hook Farms a project of Red Hook Initiative
Background and Education: As a black farmer I feel it’s my duty to teach the next generation that farming is more than land and crops it’s about our people Heritage and Future – I Currently manage Red Hook’s NYCHA farm. Previously served an 11-month term with Americorps and also managed Pink Houses Farm with EastNewyorkfarms.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unjust
Food policy hero: All Black Farmers, Karen Washington, Leah Penniman, Malik Yakini, Ron Finley,
Your breakfast this morning: Scrambled eggs, w/basil and tea
Favorite food: Doubles
Last meal on Earth: Curry Chicken, rice, peas, cabbage, plantain
Favorite food hangout and why: Grandma’s house – food always made with love
Social media must follow: @Redhookfarms, @rhookinitiative
Racine Lee Droz
Grew up in: Astoria, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director, Food Sourcing & Donor Relations at City Harvest, Inc.
Background and Education: Having been raised by a single parent, I became aware at a young age the importance of having affordable, nutritious food within our communities. Growing up in a low-income food desert neighborhood, we often had to travel far to access a variety of quality, healthy foods. At City Harvest, I work to source nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste, like produce, dairy, and meat, which our fleet of 2 trucks then delivers to hundreds of soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community food programs across the 5 boroughs. This year, we will rescue more than 80 million pounds of food, ensuring that we will continue to serve communities that need this food the most.
Education: Bachelors in Crime, Law, and Justice and a Minor in Sociology – Pennsylvania State University, Masters in Public Administration – Marist College, Advanced Certification in Emergency Management – John Jay College of Criminal Justice
One word you would use to describe our food system: Progression
Food policy hero: Miriam Miranda
Your breakfast this morning: Toasted roll with butter and a cafecito (coffee, light and sweet).
Favorite food: I’m a foodie and love all kinds of food – hard to narrow. I really enjoy Indian and Mediterranean food.
Last meal on Earth: Curry shrimp and paneer saagwala with garlic naan
Favorite food hangout and why: My favorite food hangout would have to be my neighborhood bodega. I enjoy the quick interactions with my neighbors. You have loud music playing, cats walking around the store, people either sharing a few jokes or their quick two cents on a debatable topic with others and the store owner, while you wait for your order or online to pay. It’s a friendly environment where you can quickly get to know your neighbors. Bodegas have made strides over the years to provide healthier grab and go items, produce, and fresh-cut fruit that’s affordable for their community. I love to see healthier items being offered and see people are more likely to take the chilled fresh-cut fruit over the sugary unhealthy snacks.
Social media must follow: City Harvest! I really stand by our mission to help feed the nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables and love that I have a hand in it each day.
Grew up in: Bronx, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Nutritionist and Chef Liaison, Wellness In The Schools
Background and Education:
Cornell University, BS in Human Biology, Health and Society, CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, Dietetic Internship, Natural Gourmet Institute, Chef’s Training Program
My interests in working within my local community to promote health and wellness were initially forged during an undergraduate internship with Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC. My eyes were opened to using food as a vehicle for promoting health over the course of my dietetic internship, but particularly from a tour of duty in the pastry kitchen of Rouge Tomate. After coming out of culinary school I could envision no better way to use my education than to teach students about the connection between food and health and to help improve the quality of school lunch both here in New York City and around the country.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unbalanced
Food policy hero: Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan
Your breakfast this morning: A slice of lightly-toasted whole-wheat sourdough with a spread of guacamole and a topping of smoked salmon, paired with a macchiato brewed with home-roasted coffee.
Favorite food: Chickpeas (savory) and dark chocolate (sweet)
Last meal on Earth: Likely a tie between Chicken Tikka Masala and Tacos Al Pastor
Favorite food hangout and why: As a chef, my favorite food hangout is my kitchen by default. But when I want something, not of my own making, I particularly enjoy frequenting Mercado Little Spain at the Hudson Yards — I couldn’t help revisiting for their variety of food venues and tapas offerings!
Social media must follow: @wellnessintheschools, @happyhealthylatina, @food52, Food Politics
Grew up in: Bronx, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Senior Legislative Counsel, New York City Council
Background and Education: Sara is a Senior Legislative Attorney for New York City Council, where she serves as Counsel to the Committee on Health, and the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction. In this capacity, Sara drafts and negotiates laws, guides the hearing process, and briefs the committees on a wide range of issues. Prior to working for the City Council, Sara worked as a Staff Attorney in the Patent Litigation Group of Paul Weiss LLP, where her work focused on medical and pharmaceutical intellectual property. Sara has also served in a wide range of political offices, working as a Legal Policy Fellow on the gubernatorial campaign of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, as a White House Intern under President Barack Obama in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and as a Legal Fellow in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office on Capitol Hill. She has also volunteered on the campaigns of Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, President Barack Obama, and District Attorney Bob Morgenthau. Sara is a devoted public servant, a 4th-generation Bronx resident, and a proud graduate of New York University and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. In her free time, Sara is attempting to visit all 50 U.S. states, and enjoys hiking, cooking, and anything music-related.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Unsustainable
Food policy hero: Tali Gottlieb, COO Volcani International (https://www.volcani.org/leadership)
Your breakfast this morning: Eggs in a frame
Favorite food: Bagels
Last meal on Earth: My grandmother’s fried chicken
Favorite food hangout and why: B&H Dairy Diner in the East Village. The restaurant is tiny, has been an East Village staple for decades, and the food is made in front of you, with generous portions that leave you happy and full. The entire restaurant feels like one community eating and sharing together, which is how all food should be consumed.
Social media must follow: @NatGeo on Instagram. The pictures are beautiful, humbling, and grounding, and remind me that I am part of a much bigger universe.
Shanon Morris, MS, RD, CDN
Grew up in: Freeport, Long Island
Job Title/Organization or Company: American Heart Association- Senior Director of Community Impact
Background and Education: I’m a Registered Dietitian and Author of MC Veggie Fresh Rocks the Mic, who has been working with communities ranging from children to senior citizens for the last decade with the goal of making nutrition relatable, accessible, and enjoyable for all. I studied Nutritional Sciences at Howard University and Nutrition and Applied Physiology at Teachers College, Columbia University. I’ve had the privilege of working on amazing initiatives that continue to shape my path towards making a small difference in our food system including recently helping start the first two-year-long farmers’ markets in the Bronx.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Inequitable
Food policy hero: Tony Hillery, Founder of Harlem Grown
Your breakfast this morning: Oatmeal with brown sugar
Favorite food: Mangos
Last meal on Earth: Food for the soul. Fried chicken, mac and cheese, yams, collard greens, and sweet potato pie.
Favorite food hangout and why: Any table full of children where we make a meal together. It will be messy, there will be laughter and hopefully, something delicious will be the result!
Social media must follow: @equityatthetable @foodtank @heritage_radio @rethinkfood
Grew up in: Brooklyn
Job Title/Organization or Company: Farm Education Manager at Red Hook Farms a project of RHI
Background and Education: Born in Morocco, a granddaughter of farmers, I moved with my family to Brooklyn at a very young age. My deep connection to plants as a young adult started with plant medicine and making teas and balms for myself and family. After graduating from Brooklyn College with a BA in International Business and Philosophy – I felt something missing and started working in community gardens, helping tend to them and building others under the guidance of the communities I worked in. That kick-started my journey of gardening, farming, working with youth and building community- I haven’t stopped since! I have the privilege to be working on (what I think) are the most magical farms in Brooklyn, with some pretty rad chickens (and people!).
One word you would use to describe our food system: Evolving
Food policy hero: Leah Penniman
Your breakfast this morning: Toasted bread with tahini + honey and a cup of coffee
Favorite food: Couscous
Last meal on Earth: Anything that’s stewing at mom’s house
Favorite food hangout and why: Yemen Cafe – there’s a real beauty about that place – you walk in and you see folks enjoying these large platters of food, sharing family-style, there’s this absurdly large aquarium that’s seemingly out of place but also perfectly in place and the food is delicious. Did I mention there’s unlimited free bread and sweet tea? Yeah… it’s good.
Social media must follow: @seedkeeping – Owen Taylor is a beautiful storyteller; @empresskarenmrose – my plant medicine teacher;@redhookfarms – gotta represent!
Grew up in: Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY
Job Title/Organization or Company: Warehouse and Facilities Manager for GrowNYC
Background and Education: Associates degree in electrical engineering, Bachelor’s degree in psychology
One word you would use to describe our food system: Improving
Food policy hero: Fannie Lou Hamer
Your breakfast this morning: Double sausage with cheese on a cinnamon raisin bagel
Favorite food: Honey BBQ ribs
Last meal on Earth: Pizza
Favorite food hangout and why: Dallas BBQ because I love ribs
Grew up in: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Job Title/Organization or Company: Greenmarket Operations Manager at GrowNYC
Background and Education: I’ve got a BA in Economics from Fordham University and an MS in Environmental Science from King’s College London. I’ve spent the last 7 years working at GrowNYC, and the years before that working odd jobs trying to figure out what I wanted to do.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Damaging
Food policy hero: Dolores Huerta
Your breakfast this morning: Coffee and a banana from the bodega across from the Mt Sinai Greenmarket.
Favorite food: Any burrito
Last meal on Earth: Lasagna and carrot cake
Favorite food hangout and why: That bodega across from Mt Sinai has an amazing deli counter, but my favorite hangout is Soda Bar on Vanderbilt Ave in Brooklyn. They do a great lamb burger.
Social media must follow: @SarahTaber_bww and @NotifyNYC
Grew up in: Uganda
Job Title/Organization or Company: Youth Engagement Coordinator, GrowNYC’s Greenmarket
Background and Education: My passion for food and people led me to pursue a career in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. After working in the field for two years and completing a graduate degree in clinical nutrition, I realized that I wanted to be able to work with people and communities outside of the restrictions and limitations of Hospital regulations. Working at GrowNYC allowed me to transition into working right in the community.
At GrowNYC, I am part of a team that creates a learning environment in our Greenmarkets where students K-12 can engage with locally grown food and its growers. Our fun, interactive Greenmarket School Tours help children gain an understanding of farming in our region and how their food choices impact their bodies, their communities, and their environment.
BSc Human Nutrition and Dietetics- University of the Western Cape, Cape Town (RSA) 2012
MS Clinical Nutrition- New York University 2016
One word you would use to describe our food system: Colonized
Food policy hero: Frances Perez-Rodriguez- a Bronx Farmer who does the diligent work of feeding and fighting injustice in her community.
Your breakfast this morning: Everything Bagel (Hawthorne Valley Farm) with a schmear of Basil Chevre (Ardith Mae) + Vanilla Rooibos
Favorite food: Roasted ripe plantain that is often sold on the streets of Kampala (sweet plantain always makes me think of home)
Last meal on Earth: Butter chicken served with coconut rice, chapati (East African flatbread) and a side of Sukuma Wiki (East African Collards) + Bubble Tea if I get to have a drink 🙂
Favorite food hangout and why: Any Greenmarket in the late summer with all the berries and fruits in season- especially with a slice of Watermelon in my hand!
Social media must follow: @freedomfranso, @happyhealthylatina, @riseandrootfarm, @lunafamilyfarm @sohlae @ciaosamin @foodculturist @__genna__, @gapereyra, @latinxrd @diversifydietetics @nycen @sylvanaquafarms, @klancycooks, @yewande_komolafe, @okofarms, @veggiemomclub
Grew up in: Forestville, CA
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Food and Nutrition Programs, Children’s Aid
Background and Education:
I hold a BA in Sociology from Boston University, a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and a Masters in Food Studies from NYU. My path in the NYC food non-profit world began with an internship with the nutrition education team at City Harvest. After graduating from NYU, I went to work for OFNS (previously Office of SchoolFood) as the first Garden to Café Program Coordinator, where I spent two years connecting school gardens to the cafeteria. After my stint with OFNS, I worked for the Sylvia Center as Education Director, where I spent four years managing (and teaching) healthy cooking programs in public housing community centers throughout the city.
After the Sylvia Center, I spent a year consulting for Lantern Community Services, where I helped create a healthy cooking curriculum for young adults aging out of foster care. I also worked with Drive Change, a hospitality and culinary workforce development organization that works with young adults returning from incarceration. In 2018, I became the Director of Food and Nutrition programs. In my role, I oversee six unique programs, which provide cooking and nutrition education, as well as healthy food access to communities in central Harlem, South Bronx, Washington Heights, and the north shore of Staten Island.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Inadequate
Food policy hero: It isn’t a single person, but I really admire the work of the Wallace Center
Your breakfast this morning: Coffee and mango
Favorite food: Noodle soup of almost any variety: ramen, udon, pho, khao soi, laksa
Last meal on Earth: Vietnamese summer rolls, spicy green papaya salad, and beef pho
Favorite food hangout and why: My apartment. I love to feed friends and bring people together. Entertaining is my true happy place.
Social media must follow: Grub Street and USQ Greenmarket
Grew up in: Tulsa, OK
Job Title/Organization or Company: Director of Member Engagement, Food Bank For NYC
Background and Education: Zanita Tisdale is passionate about working to provide resources that ensure both community development and food insecurity programs empower Community Based Organizations to create change around them. Over the last twelve years, Zanita has worked in direct service, policy, and funding capacity within New York City’s complex food systems space. She currently works as the Director of Member Engagement at Food Bank For New York City. In this role, she leads the organization’s work with approximately 1,000 emergency and community food programs operating in over 90% of New York City’s zip codes. She holds a Bachelor’s in Mass Communication, Public Relations from Oklahoma City University.
One word you would use to describe our food system: Dynamic
Food policy hero: I have the honor of working with amazing food policy heroes as the lead for Food Bank’s work with its network of member charities run by some of the most dynamic nonprofits in NYC. There is one woman who stands among them I greatly admire. Her unwavering commitment and refusal to back down from hard conversations that challenge systems and institutions make me proud to call her my ally. She’s been quoted as saying, “If one of us is injured and their humanity diminished by discrimination in any form, the whole of us is wounded and all of us diminished.” I’m forever inspired by her tenacity. I use her example to fuel my approach to this work of addressing hunger and advocating for greater access, affordability and resources to those who need it most. I’m so proud to call Rev. Terry Troia, the President, and CEO of Project Hospitality, not only a friend and colleague in this work but an ally and one of my food policy heroes.
Your breakfast this morning: plain yogurt, strawberries & blueberries drizzled with honey
Favorite food: Really any shellfish (especially mussels)
Last meal on Earth: Louisiana crab boil
Favorite food hangout and why: A home. Mindful eating is so critical in how I both decompress and create beautiful memories. I find that I’m the most mindful when I’m in a close-knit, intimate setting surrounded by people I love and who love me.
Social media must follow: Cornel West, or Uncle Cornel as I affectionately call him.