In With The New!

its_a_new_seasonLeaves are changing, and temperatures are dropping. That can only mean that October is here, and the new academic year is in full swing.

This month at the Sprout, we explore all things new. Our writers creatively take on this topic in a myriad of ways. Right out of the gate, Sprout editor Sheryl Lynn Carvajal gives us a new perspective on the unique food culture at Friedman. What she learned may surprise you.

Sandra Rosenbluth digs into the latest food-shopping trend of grocery delivery. Cailin Kowalewski gives us an inside look at the new FINI grant system, which aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP participants through incentives programs.

Matt Moore sits down with the reestablished and renamed student group, Friedman Business Link, which aims to connect interested students to private industry opportunities. On behalf of the Friedman Justice League, Rebecca Harnik gives us a glimpse into the first social justice certification program for businesses and farmers in North America. Alison Brown interviews alumna Tambra Raye Stevenson about her food justice advocacy and policy work.

Mimi DelGizzi reviews the new, acclaimed pizza restaurant, Pastoral, in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood. Got leftovers after a great dinner out? Your to-go box can take on new life with Michelle Borges’s recipes to liven up leftovers.

You’re sure to find something new to chew on in this issue!

Lara and Sheryl

In this issue:

That’s So “Friedman”: Unspoken Food Rules at a School of

Nutrition

by Sheryl Lynn Carvajal

We are nutrition students fighting the fight against obesity, food deserts, and working towards policy change. So why are unspoken food rules and silent judgment commonplace within the walls of Jaharis?

imagesThe Perks and Pitfalls of Grocery Delivery

by Sandra Rosenbluth

Grocery delivery services have become popular in the last few years, but they may not be for everyone. Here’s the lowdown to help you decide if grocery delivery is right for you.

FINI: The Greatest Little Grant You’ve Never Heard Of

by Cailin Kowalewski

Newly-announced USDA funding will support healthy food incentives across the country.

“New” Student Group Connects Students to the Private Sector

by Matthew Moore

Following a brief hiatus, Friedman Business Link (formerly known as Tufts Food Works) will return this fall. Its goal is to provide resources for students interested in the private sector, food industry, and entrepreneurship through conversation, education, and connections.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.49.21 PM

Justice on the Table: A Food Label for Justice

by Rebecca Harnik

The Friedman Justice League takes a look at the new “Food Justice Label,” which may help to increase transparency in the food system.

Tambra Raye Stevenson: Her Journey to Food Justice Continues

Alum1by Alison Brown

Food justice champion Tambra Raye Stevenson continues to inspire. The Oklahoma native and Washington DC-based food policy advocate takes us on her spiritual, professional, and passion-driven journey to advocate for good nutrition and social justice for all.

Restaurant Review: Pastoral Puts Boring Pizza Out to Pasture

by Mimi DelGizzi

Friedmanites check out a fledgling but buzzed-about upscale pizza spot in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood.

Recipe: Thinking Outside the To-Go Box

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.21.07 PMby Michelle Borges

In keeping with “all things new,” this month’s recipes take a new approach to reheating leftover food. Half-eaten sandwiches find a place at the breakfast table, and overwhelming portions of mashed potatoes are blended into a satisfying lunch for the next day.

That’s So “Friedman”: Unspoken Food Rules at a School of Nutrition

by Sheryl Lynn Carvajal

We are nutrition students fighting the fight against obesity, food deserts, and working towards policy change. So why are unspoken food rules and silent judgment commonplace within the walls of Jaharis? Take a look into what students have to say about this Friedman culture.

jaharis-building

The Jaharis Building at the Friedman School

The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy brings students together from around the world to learn about nutrition, and to address domestic and international food issues. Some are working toward degrees in public health, and others are taking courses to become registered dietitians. With a focus on nutrition research and public policy, the efforts of students and faculty are making strides in improving national and global health.

That said, within the walls of Jaharis, we students live in a unique bubble when it comes to food, and the so-called “Friedman culture” is full of unspoken food rules.

As part of my dual MS/MPH degree with the Friedman School and the School of Medicine, I took the course Qualitative Tools for Research and Programs (PH225) last semester. In this class, I decided to investigate this “Friedman culture” from the eyes of Friedman students, as well as students who belong to different programs but share our campus. After speaking with students to gather formative research, there were some common themes that I observed:

Judgment

A hand-drawn picture posted in the student lounge in Jaharis

Though fast food is ubiquitous in our country, there is a strong stigma associated with bringing and eating it on campus. This is one of the unspoken food rules, and many students feel like they have to be closet fast food eaters. One student said, “If someone brought McDonald’s into Jaharis, I think other people would probably judge, just because of the way I see side-eyes when people pop open soda cans.”

Another student walked in one day with a small coffee and four McNuggets, and “I felt like I was walking into church with drugs in my hand. I didn’t even have French fries!”

Several students revealed to me that they occasionally eat McDonald’s, just not anywhere near campus. The idea seems to be that ‘we know better,’ and if a ‘rule’ is broken, an underlying sense of judgment may come along with it.

Social Pressure

Class of 2014 Gift

When it comes to food at Friedman, it goes beyond just what we put into our mouths. With the diversity of the programs and concentrations (i.e. Nutrition Communication, Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Nutritional Epidemiology, and Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition), our eyes are opened to the environmental factors of food, in addition to health and nutrition. If you walk into any classroom, you’re bound to see several reusable containers, and very few disposable water bottles or utensils.

“There is definitely pressure at Friedman to eat ‘like a Friedmanite,’” one student said. “Salad in a Tupperware, whole carrots, apples and peanut butter for snack, water bottles. It’s a culture.”

Mason jars are a staple for toting food. (Even the class gift for the spring 2014 graduates was a mason jar!) Furthermore, at a school function that combined nutrition and public health students, one student commented on another’s eating from a mason jar, “That’s so Friedman.”

Competitiveness

The last theme that I found when asking and observing Friedman students about the culture and unspoken food rules was a feeling of competition when it comes to food. One student had an all-encompassing view of this theme:

“I wonder if there is a sort of competitive nature that goes beyond simply ‘wanting to eat salads with other salad eaters,’ but more like silently watching who has the biggest salad, who has the most mason jar-filled food, who’s drinking the greenest smoothie, etc. While we may claim that we don’t judge others outside the school, I think sometimes there is a certain level of proud pretentiousness around some of our food choices particularly in a student vs. student realm.”

Outside the walls of Friedman, several students have stated that they do eat differently when they are at home, or at a restaurant. Some say they always have baked goods in their apartments. Others will go to the drive-thru on road-trips.

We understand that not everyone thinks about food in the same way that we do, and that is the main reason why we are here. We want to help people’s diets and improve the food systems. We share a common goal, so why are there feelings of judgment when it comes to the foods we eat at school?

“Maybe the quasi-professional environment at Friedman makes us feel judged or competitive,” one student said. While it may, at times, seem understandable that we hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to food choices, I think it’s also important to build each other up in our fight for a healthier world. As professionals, we can’t always expect our potential patients, clients or program participants to only eat fruits and vegetables and to always practice portion control. Similarly, we shouldn’t expect the same of our peers. After all, with everything we are learning about food, we should be able to appreciate and enjoy all kinds of it without guilt or fear of judgment.

Sheryl Lynn Carvajal is a third-year MS/MPH student, and co-editor of the Friedman Sprout. When she is not at school, you can find her slinging beers and cocktails at Pastoral in the Fort Point neighborhood, cheering on her beloved Florida State Seminoles football team, or playing with her new rescue pup, a handsome lab mix.

The Perks and Pitfalls of Grocery Delivery

by Sandra Rosenbluth

Grocery delivery services have become popular in the last few years, but they may not be for everyone. Here’s the lowdown to help you decide if grocery delivery is right for you.

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Pick your produce with Instacart.

Back in the good old days, getting food delivered meant two things: pizza or Chinese. Now, with companies such as Diningin.com and GrubHub.com, you can get all sorts of fully prepared restaurant meals delivered to your door. This is a great feature for those who are short on time. While trudging to a far-away grocery store, spending time perusing aisles, and lugging bags of produce home by foot can be both a hassle and incredibly time consuming, most Friedman students know the merits of a healthy, home-cooked meal. Fortunately, if you’re willing to shell out a few extra bucks, the answer is out there. It’s grocery delivery.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 3.29.40 PMSome companies don’t specifically have a delivery fee. Boston Organics delivers a box of local, organic produce once a week on a set day (that is determined by your location, not what works for your schedule). There’s limited control over what goes into Boston Organics’ boxes. While you can specify the proportion of vegetables to fruit you prefer and can put certain items on a permanent “no” list, the box is filled with what’s fresh and local that week. This might mean you have to get creative with your recipes; however, the boxes start at only $24 for a decent number of items, and you don’t have to waste time browsing through and choosing your produce every week.

Amazon Pantry is another delivery service offered free to its Prime members (so not truly free, but part of the benefits package). You can add items to your “pantry” as you need them (no produce), and once you hit $10, the items will ship to you. The things you can buy come at a greatly discounted price, but if you need anything with urgency, you’re out of luck.

imagesThe benefits of grocery delivery do outweigh some of the glaring negatives. It saves time that would otherwise be spent at the store, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of lugging groceries home. (If you like to drink large amounts of seltzer water or order toilet paper in bulk, this is a serious plus.) Additionally, stores will occasionally send you special deals, like free delivery (Instacart offers free first delivery if over $10 is spent). Price discounts happening in-store at Stop&Shop also apply to Peapod orders, so you can still take advantage of sales.

Whether or not you use grocery delivery really depends on your lifestyle. Having a car likely makes a big difference, as does your proximity to stores. If you have the funds, you should probably try it at least once before making any judgments, especially if there are a lot of bulky or heavy items that you need.

Maybe you’ll find that grocery delivery isn’t for you. Or maybe you’ll realize it’s just what you need to help you make more meals at home.

Goodbye, pizza and Chinese, and hello, home-cooked deliciousness.

Sandra Rosenbluth is a second-year Nutrition Communication student whose favorite season is Fall. She is excited for apple-picking and changing leaves, but not what comes after (aka, icy winds and snow).

FINI: The Greatest Little Grant You’ve Never Heard Of

By Cailin Kowalewski

Newly-announced USDA funding will support healthy food incentives across the country

The USDA this week announced a new grant program that will help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) afford fruits and vegetables. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program will offer $31.5 million in competitive grants to organizations from across the food system. These organizations will be able to use FINI funding to support projects that increase SNAP participant access to fruits and vegetables through incentive programs at the point of sale.

FINI-FM Tokens

Farmers market tokens

FINI is a joint effort between the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which runs SNAP, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Over the next five years they will distribute grant awards to community-focused initiatives including small pilot projects (up to $100,000 over a maximum of one year), multi-year community-based projects (up to $500,000 over a maximum of four years), or larger-scale multi-year projects (more than $500,000 over a maximum of four years).

Organizations that are eligible for FINI grants are diverse, and include non-profits, Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 12.40.21 PMfarmers’ markets and associations, health agencies, economic development groups, grocery or corner stores, and local and tribal governments. This range of potential grantees affords an impressive opportunity for collaboration across different sectors of the food system, and may help strengthen existing programs that have already proven successful at increasing SNAP purchases of fruits and vegetables.

For small-scale, direct to consumer operations, FINI grants may make SNAP retail more economically feasible. In low-income communities, it may dramatically improve access to fresh, healthy produce.

The most likely recipients of FINI funding will be coordinating organizations that manage incentive programs at state and regional levels. However, local and small-scale programs that are particularly successful may also receive the much-needed support to expand and improve their SNAP incentive programs.

Priority will be given to projects that maximize funds used directly for incentives, use direct-to-consumer marketing, are located in underserved communities (especially Promise Zones and StrikeForce communities), link low-income customers to farmers, and provide local produce. Programs that develop improved benefit redemption systems that can be replicated or scaled will also receive greater consideration.

Why SNAP incentive programs?

FINI1Incentive programs have historically been effective for improving consumption of fruits and vegetables among SNAP recipients. The Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP), conducted by the Mass Department of Transitional Assistance and USDA/FNS, examined the impact of a SNAP incentive program in Hampden County, MA, from 2011 to 2012. An interim report in 2013 indicated that HIP study participants had a 25% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption compared to control group members. HIP participants were also more likely to have fruits and vegetable in the home than nonparticipants.

Programs like Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks and Wholesome Wave’s Double Value Coupon Program have been permutated and replicated across the country, and help open places like farmers’ markets, which are often perceived as being exclusively priced, to more income demographics. Organizations that implement these programs leverage funding from federal and state governments, public and private grants, and donations, and essentially funnel it those who sell and buy local fruits and vegetables.

Controversy

Some concerns exist about where FINI funding will actually be distributed. Under FINI’s eligibility requirements, large grocery stores could potentially receive FINI grants. Many argue that this would sink federal money into the pockets of large-scale retailers, dissipating the community economic benefits that would come from increased SNAP sales to local producers. This would also conflict with objectives of previous USDA initiatives like the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program.

FINI will also be challenging to implement at seasonally-operating places like farmers markets, where the actual time frame for testing is small and staff capacity is limited. In the past, incentive programs have struggled to last because of high administrative burdens and challenges adopting and implementing new technologies. In some cases, redemption rates drop because of factors like inadequate transportation to markets, lack of marketing, and perceived stigmatization.

The grant distribution process will be an enormous undertaking for USDA, and it is likely that it will outsource to NGOs for assistance with the process. This 2014 solicitation for proposals combines funds for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, and there will not be a solicitation in fiscal year 2015. Applications are due Dec. 15, 2014. NIFA will host a webinar for applicants on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m., EDT.

Cailin Kowalewski is a second-year FPAN student from Western New York who loves big dogs, tiny houses, and a good run. She plans to survive this winter with the help of homemade applesauce and copious amounts of Sabres hockey.   

“New” Student Group Connects Students to the Private Sector 

by Matthew Moore

Following a brief hiatus, Friedman Business Link (formerly known as Tufts Food Works) will return this fall. Its goal is to provide resources for students interested in the private sector, food industry, and entrepreneurship through conversation, education, and connections.

After being dormant for over a year, Tufts Food Works has been rechristened as Friedman Business Link and is back to support students interested in possible careers in the private sector. The organization kicks off the year with a general interest meeting, Wednesday, October 1st from 4:30-6:00 PM in Jaharis 254.

Efforts to get Business Link off the ground were spearheaded by Kate Schaffner (AFE), along with co-chairs and fellow AFE students Emily Dimiero, Matt Hazel, Ravdeep Jaidka, Nathaniel Rosenblum and Abraham Faham.

Schaffner said they updated the organization’s name to more accurately reflect its mission and emphasized the importance of the private sector in today’s nutrition, public health, and agricultural fields.

“We wanted to implement a forum where students can explore how private interests can intersect with public policy related to nutrition and food systems,” Schaffner explained. “Businesses are key stakeholders and need to be part of the conversation. We want to help students understand what drives business decision-making so that they can prepare for jobs, determine what roles they’d like to play, and maybe even start their own businesses.”

While Business Link spotlights the private sector, its primary mission is to assist current Friedman students with enhancing their personal professional development. As Tufts Food Works, the organization previously created a directed study to help students build business development skills and hosted events such as tours of Sam Adams and Taza Chocolate as well as a monthly speaker series that featured panels of alumni working in the private sector.

Schaffner plans to reestablish several of these resources and revealed that speaking events — while not confirmed — are currently being planned for the spring. One of her goals is for Business Link to provide students with interview skills practice as well as resume and cover letter writing workshops.

Dimiero also stressed the importance of networking as one of the organization’s components.

“We wanted to allow students to have a formalized outlet to explore potential careers in the private sector,” she said. “That includes providing them with networking opportunities they might not have otherwise, whether it be with peers, faculty, or outside speakers and guests.”

Business Link’s co-chairs have already begun to build alumni networking connections for its members. While their ideas have kick-started Business Link’s activities for the upcoming year, they intend for the organization to evolve based on input from new members’ individual, professional development goals.

Reiterating the importance of communication in Business Link’s mission, Schaffner said, “Conversations about the role businesses ought to play in these fields can be contentious. However, their impact is significant, and this is a chance to facilitate mutual understanding between private and public sector among students who care about food, nutrition and agriculture.”

Matt Moore is a first-year AFE student and is prepared to fill up an October devoid of Tampa Bay Rays baseball with horror movies no one has ever heard of.

Justice on the Table: A Food Label For Justice

by Rebecca Harnik 

The Friedman Justice League takes a look at the new “Food Justice Label,” which may help to increase transparency in the food system. The labeling program certifies businesses and farmers whose practices fulfill extensive social justice criteria.

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The logo from the Agricultural Justice Project.

Since the Food and Drug Administration mandated food labeling two decades ago, many consumers have come to rely on labels to understand their food. Labeling is helpful in many regards – we can easily identify items that are Certified Organic, nut-free, or high-sodium on grocery shelves. But beyond what’s required on food packaging, many important details slip through the cracks. The story behind the food is notably absent, and the rights of growers, producers and distributors are typically invisible to the consumer.

Food workers in our country, particularly immigrant laborers, often receive sub-minimum wages for their work, and many face serious workplace hazards. According to the advocacy nonprofit Farmworker Justice, pesticide poisoning in adults and children leads farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce in the nation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standards work to address pesticide safety issues, but labor advocates and public health officials assert that standards must be strengthened.

A new “Food Justice Label” on the market may help to increase transparency in the system. This first-ever social justice labeling program in North America formally certified two businesses in New York this summer, bringing the program to businesses in the Northeast for the first time.

Championed by the Agricultural Justice Project, the label gives consumers the opportunity to support farms and businesses with fair practices. It also allows farmers, buyers, distributors, processors and retailers to demonstrate their commitment to ethical practices, fair pricing, and living wages.

What standards does the Food Justice label include?

  • Fair pricing for farmers
  • Fair wages and treatment of workers
  • Safe working conditions
  • Fair and equitable contracts for farmers and buyers
  • Workers’ and farmers’ right to freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • Clear conflict resolution policies for all throughout the food chain
  • Clean and safe farmworker housing
  • Learning contracts for interns and apprentices
  • A ban on full-time child labor, together with full protection for children on farms
  • Environmental stewardship through organic certification

The two newly-certified establishments are GreenStar Natural Foods Co-op and The Piggery Butcher & Local Grocer in New York, which met these rigorous standards for their businesses. Several farms and businesses have already been certified in Canada, Oregon, the Upper Midwest and Florida, according to AJP.

Learn more about the Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certification.

“Justice on the Table” is a monthly feature written by students in the Friedman Justice League.  

The Friedman Justice League student organization is a means to a more systematic, intentional and sustainable effort at the Friedman School to address issues of diverse representation within the student body, staff and faculty. We also focus on how the Friedman community can better address issues of discrimination and oppression (especially within the food system) in its teachings, research and programs. Join us! Contact FriedmanJusticeLeague@gmail.com for more information.

Rebecca Harnik is a first year student in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program. She is concerned with issues of social equity, community health and ecological sustainability in the food system.

Tambra Raye Stevenson: Her Journey to Food Justice Continues

by Alison Brown

Food justice champion Tambra Raye Stevenson continues to inspire. The Oklahoma native and Washington DC-based food policy advocate takes us on her spiritual, professional, and passion-driven journey to advocate for good nutrition and social justice for all.

Alum1

What do nutrition and justice have in common? The answer is Tambra Raye Stevenson. The resume of this Oklahoma native and Tufts graduate describes the action and dedicated work of a phenomenal social justice and nutrition advocacy leader. Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder of Washington D.C.-based NativSol Kitchen, is empowering families to take charge of their health, urging those of color to connect back to their roots by preparing the cuisine of the African Diaspora.

994260_504854239591137_379293245_n“NativSol formed out of my own journey seeking my African heritage and spirituality and asking such question as, ‘Does MyPlate really reflect who I am?’” Stevenson reflected.

Throughout this process of self-discovery and growth, Tambra has also engaged with faith-based, nutrition programs throughout the District. But her work extends far beyond the realm of community nutrition education. Tambra is actively involved in both national and local food and social justice policy and advocacy efforts. As a public policy chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition, Tambra is a vocal supporter for the consideration of culture, race, and ethnicity in dietary recommendations. On the local front, she is the founding member of the D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs’ Health Education Planning Committee and chairs the nutrition subcommittee.

Despite this long list of accomplishments and her undoubtedly positive impact on nutrition advocacy in the future, Tambra was not always interested in nutrition as a professional career. Stevenson’s general interest in nutrition, however, stems from her “curiosity of why people in [her] family were dying.” Like many other African Americans, Stevenson saw the chronic disease-related deaths of family members become more a norm rather than an exception.

While at Oklahoma State University, Tambra became a Biology-turned-Human Nutrition pre-medical major after a classmate encouraged her to visit the nutrition department. From that moment she seriously began to consider the nutrition field as a career possibility. Following numerous nutrition research summer internships, Tambra later entered the Tufts’ Health Communications program at the Tufts School of Medicine. There she was actively engaged in the Boston community and took advantage of the cross-consortium with Boston University and Emerson College. At the academic level, she honed her skills in translating nutrition science into relatable messages that resonated with all people, not just the scientific elite. Taking the “whole brain approach” when it comes to nutrition and food, Stevenson began to think more creatively about food and nutrition as well as approaches that could be used in the community setting.

Shortly after graduating, in 2004, Stevenson began the Emerging Leaders Program, a highly competitive federal internship with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to train young leaders to oversee national programs and initiatives. Continuing her journey, Tambra began working for the U.S. Department of Commerce where she helped to promote minority business opportunities at home and abroad. Though these professional experiences didn’t relate to nutrition directly, she gained invaluable experience in program management and understanding the workings of the federal government.

It wasn’t until 2007, however, with the tragic and sudden death of her father, that Tambra took heed to her true call to service and returned to the nutrition profession with more creativity and consciousness. The mother of two began to ask herself, “What legacy am I passing onto my children? Am I living a life of purpose?” Tambra then began practicing yoga as a way to stay grounded and continued on her path of nutrition education and food justice advocacy.

When asked what motivates her, Stevenson painted a picture of spiritual perseverance, passion, and a calling for justice and health equity. And while many may (or may not) agree, Tambra argues that food justice has to be framed as a civil rights issue in order for true change to be instigated. Extending this analogy to the abolition of slavery, Stevenson suggests that the “Harriet Tubmans,” “Harriet Beecher Stowes,” “Frederick Douglasses,” and “William Lloyd Garrisons” each play a different role in reaching various influential stakeholders, and all such roles are necessary in the fight for food justice.

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My 45-minute phone interview with Tambra was riddled with nuggets of truth and wisdom, and in a particularly insightful moment, Stevenson said that change happens when someone creates an opportunity from what is not being said.

As a constantly evolving leader, Stevenson is creating these opportunities as she continues in her career. In celebration of her birthday and connecting to her newly learned, Fulani roots of Niger and Nigeria, Stevenson intended to travel to her home of African ancestry in September, but due to the Ebola outbreak, she instead had an amazing experience in Ghana. As a self-described, “curious child seeking truth beyond the noise,” Stevenson is continuing on in her spiritual, professional, and passion-driven journey to advocate for good nutrition and social justice for all.

To learn about NativSol, visit facebook.com/nativsol.

Alison Brown is a Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Ph.D. candidate interested in addressing racial and ethnic health disparities through community education and civic engagement approaches. In her spare time, she enjoys running and making healthy, affordable meals on a shoestring, grad school budget!

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