What do Clover Food Truck, a nutrition magazine, and PepsiCo have in common? They are all connected to Tufts Food Works (TFW), a fairly new student group at the Friedman School. I talked to Linda DePoto, a second-year FPAN student and current co-chair of the group, to find out what TFW is all about and to learn how Friedman students can get involved.
When and why was TFW created?
Food Works was created by a handful of students from the class of 2012 who were interested in the intersection of food and nutrition with the private sector. They found Friedman had strong ties to the public and non-profit sectors, but the connection with the private sector was less obvious.
What is the mission of the group?
The primary mission of Food Works is to introduce Friedman students to the broad range of work that’s done in the private sector because there is a misperception that the private sector just means “big food” (Kraft, PepsiCo, etc.). In reality there are all sorts of food businesses that are doing great things and are not simply profit-driven.
Can you give me an example of one of these food businesses?
Last spring Food Works took a tour of Clover Food Lab’s Inman Square location and met the founder, Ayr Muir. In addition to the Inman hub location, Clover has a restaurant in Harvard Square and food trucks all over the city. Muir has built a business around the idea of locally raised and sustainably produced fast food.
And delicious food! So what is your role with TFW?
I am one of the co-chairs of the group this year, along with Kim Feeney, a second-year FPAN student.
What type of events have you done this year?
Our main fall event is our private sector internship panel, which we held this year on November 8th. We had five students talk about their internship experiences – the good and the bad, how they secured them, etc. This year we had someone who worked at a local start-up, someone who worked for a large food company, and another person who worked at a magazine. It was a pretty diverse group and those in attendance seemed to really get a lot out of the event.
In late November we also hosted a speaker from Root Capital, which is a small microfinance operation that lends to smallholder farmers around the world.
What’s coming up next?
We’ll have a meeting early in the second semester to plan what we’d like to do in the spring. We are very open to ideas from the student body. Taking charge of inviting a speaker to campus or organizing a local trip is a great way for students to make connections with an organization for which they might like to work!
Good point. What’s the best way for students at Friedman to get involved with TFW?
The best way to get involved is to come to our meetings and events and just connect with us. We always post our events on the Friedman eBulletin and anyone can join our email list. We’re a pretty informal group and are interested in tailoring our events to the interests of the group. Kim and I are both graduating, so we’ll be looking for new leadership from the class of 2014.
If you are interested in joining the TFW email list or have an idea for a TFW event, send an email to Linda DePoto at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lainey Younkin is a second-year Nutrition Communication student and a registered dietitian. She loves the egg and eggplant sandwich from Clover and looks forward to TFW’s spring events!