Living on $4 a day is hard. As College sophomore Priya Srinivasan can attest to, eating healthily on so little is nearly impossible. Yet that is exactly what she and other students in “The Politics of Food” class attempted to do.
It was a “completely new learning experience,” Srinivasan said, and one undertaken in support of food justice, the theme for this year’s Food Week, hosted by dining company Bon Appetit.
Carolina Fojo, a Bon Appetit Fellow who visits college campuses the company serves, has been with Food Week at Penn from its birth in 2009. “The goal of this year’s Food Week was to bring in as many different people as possible to talk about food justice,” she said.
The Food Justice Dinner that kicked off Food Week did just that, bringing together about 40 Penn students, community members, Bon Appetit management and both adult- and high-school-aged Urban Nutrition Initiative representatives, to expand food justice awareness.
High-school representatives of the Urban Nutrition Initiative — a Philadelphia-based organization that aims to improve nutrition and healthy living in the Philadelphia community — spoke about their involvement with cooking and gardening projects that promote healthy living.
“We’re here to represent what we work for and tell people about food nutrition,” Jadea Lee, a junior at John Bartram High School, said. “It was great to hear opinions of local high-school students and what they’re doing for the community,” College senior Jennifer Dailey said.
Director of Youth Development Program Kristen Schwab proceeded to lead a discussion on the definition of food justice. The crowd shouted out opinions on the definition of food, ranging from “life” to “digestible” and justice, ranging from “freedom” to “equality.” Schwab then prompted the audience to combine these two terms together to come up with definitions of food justice, from “access to food” to “knowledge of your food.”
Following the discussion, attendees broke off into activities led by the high-school representatives at their tables. The first activity involved matching numbers to various phrases, such as “Calories in a Big Mac, large fries and large soda” matched with “1,200” and “number of miles required to burn 1,200 Calories” matched with “10.”
The second activity discussed various quotes that expressed different views on healthy eating and food justice. College freshman Alex Ghanem said, “I didn’t think we would have individual conversations, but I’m glad we did. It got me thinking.”
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