The Return of Jumbo’s Kitchen

by Theo Fitopoulos

Jumbo’s Kitchen is entering its ninth year as a program at the Friedman School. Now under new leadership, Tufts students are hoping to grow the program to better serve the needs of those in our community. Jumbo’s Kitchen volunteers will have the opportunity to empower students at the nearby Josiah Quincy Elementary School through cooking and nutrition education. Learn more about what is in store this semester, and how you can get involved!

It is that time of year again! Students of the Tufts Health Sciences schools now have the chance to teach children in the local community about having fun, gaining confidence, and making healthy choices through cooking and nutrition education. Jumbo’s Kitchen returns this spring, giving students the opportunity to volunteer at the nearby Josiah Quincy Elementary School to teach the basics of cooking and nutrition. This year the Jumbo’s Kitchen team is also aiming to teach the students about gardening and growing their own food.

Student Simon Ye teaching at a Jumbo's Kitchen session in Spring 2017

Student Simon Ye teaching at a Jumbo’s Kitchen session in Spring 2017.

Jumbo’s Kitchen started at the Friedman School in 2009 and despite operating in different schools around Boston, the mission remains the same: to promote an understanding of nutrition and introduce basic cooking skills to empower kids to develop healthy eating habits. Simon Ye, a PhD candidate at the Friedman School, began volunteering with Jumbo’s Kitchen as a Curriculum Development Chair during the 2015-16 school year. When asked why he wanted to get involved initially, Ye said, “Personally speaking I love cooking and working with kids, so taking this role was ideal for me to serve the community in a way that I really enjoy.” Partnering with the Josiah Quincy Elementary School offers the Friedman the opportunity to build a sense of community with our neighbors and volunteer with young students at an age when it’s more important than ever to develop healthy eating habits.

As a first-year student at Tufts Medical School, Vanessa Yu was looking for different volunteering opportunities offered through the school. When she learned about the Jumbo’s Kitchen program, she was eager to get involved: “Going into Tufts Med, I knew I wanted to find a way to engage with the local community. Tufts is the only medical school to be located in a Chinatown, which is a really unique position to be in, in terms of understanding how to interact with a different community and culture. It’s important for students on the Boston campus to be cognizant of the lives that their patients lead, and programs like Jumbo’s Kitchen are a great way to gain that awareness. By spending a few hours each week with students of the Josiah Quincy School, we’ll get to learn about the littlest members of our community and discover what’s most important to them.”

Josiah Quincy students learn how to make smoothies.

Josiah Quincy students learn how to make smoothies.

Jumbo’s Kitchen also provides a valuable experience for volunteers. Not only are they able to help neighbors in our community develop healthy eating habits, but Jumbo’s Kitchen volunteers also gain experience developing lessons and teaching nutrition in a classroom setting. Some of the sessions in this year’s Jumbo’s Kitchen curriculum include an introduction to food groups and the USDA MyPlate, basic cooking techniques, serving sizes, healthy snacking, and field trips to the Friedman School garden and a local Chinatown grocery store. Each week will feature a different food that fits the specific lesson, and students will keep track of what they learn in their own journals, so they can share lessons with their families at home.

The time commitment for Jumbo’s Kitchen volunteers includes lesson planning, food shopping for the week, and class time. Classes will take place on eight different Fridays this semester at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. This year’s curriculum has the Jumbo’s Kitchen board very excited, and we have a great group of volunteers ready to start the semester; however there is always room for more students to get involved. Simon Ye has seen the benefit of the program to the kids first-hand: “Jumbo’s Kitchen’s goal is to teach kids basic nutrition and food preparation skills. I believe that developing a positive and active relationship with what we eat is critical for leading a healthy lifestyle in the long run. I wish that when I was a kid someone could have helped me understand what food is in a way that Jumbo’s Kitchen is now doing. I can tell that many of the kids enjoy our classes and learned something that they will carry later on.”

To get involved with Jumbo’s Kitchen contact Vanessa Yu at Be sure to keep up with Jumbo’s Kitchen this semester by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, using @jumboskitchen!

Theo Fitopoulos is a second-year student in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program, and current intern at the Tufts Health Science Public Relations Office. In his free time, he enjoys sampling the burgeoning Boston restaurant scene, experimenting with traditional Greek recipes in his own kitchen, and playing basketball and tennis when the weather permits.

Welcome (and Welcome Back) from Slow Food Tufts!

by Simon Ye, Slow Food Tufts

Students make dumplings at a Slow Food Tufts event. Photo: Simon Ye

Students make dumplings at a Slow Food Tufts event. Photo: Simon Ye

Slow Food Tufts, started in 2008, is one of many chapters across the world of Slow Food International. The mission of Slow Food International is to promote good, clean, and fair food for all through grassroots membership. Building community around food is so important to what Slow Food does, and at the Friedman School we want to familiarize students with the greater Boston food community.

During the past two years Slow Food Tufts hosted a few food workshops and food business tours. We explored breweries and chocolate factories in the Boston area, and hosted workshops for making kimchi and dumplings. We believe that a good way to connect with your food is to start making things and having your hands in the process. It is self-empowering! Part of the Slow Food mission is preserving those traditions, and the skill-sharing events provide a platform for doing that. The Friedman community is a diverse place where people have different family traditions and skills, and we want to provide a place where students can share those unique skills.

There are many opportunities to participate in food related events, from potlucks to visiting a local, sustainable, food business. Look for upcoming events to be posted here at the Friedman Sprout, Friedman Weekly Digest, and the Friedman Student Group on Facebook. If you have a good idea or want to share your food skills, please shoot me an email at!


Simon Ye, Chair of Slow Food Tufts
Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition


Dig In and Give Back with DINE!

by Mike Zastoupil and Sam Hoeffler

Want to make new friends at Friedman and be a part of the Chinatown community? Become a teacher with DINE!

Students taste-test veggies of all colors of the rainbow. Photo by Sam Hoeffler.

Students taste-test veggies of all colors of the rainbow. Photo by Sam Hoeffler.

School gardens have been popping up in cities all across the U.S. in an effort to teach children where their food comes from, and of course Tufts University’s Friedman School is part of the movement. For more than 10 years, the Dig In! Nutrition Education (DINE) program has brought Friedman students into neighboring Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Chinatown to teach third graders about nutrition and life science, with an emphasis on the importance of gardening and eating healthy food. Based on research conducted by past Friedman students on best teaching practices, DINE teachers facilitate hands-on, interactive lessons about plant parts, worm bin decomposition, pollinators and more. The program consists of four lessons in the fall and three lessons in the spring, with a culminating end-of-the-year celebration on the rooftop garden that the students themselves plant from seed.

Students draw food webs. Photo by Carolyn Panzarella.

Students draw food webs. Photo by Carolyn Panzarella.

Worm compost built by DINE students. Photo by Kathleen Nay.

Worm compost built by DINE students. Photo by Kathleen Nay.

The DINE program gives Friedman students the chance to gain real experience in garden-based education as well as the opportunity to give back to the Chinatown community. The excitement of the kids and fun activities are also a refreshing study break for Friedman students during their long hours of work. If you are interested in becoming a DINE teacher this fall, please contact Mike Zastoupil ( or Sam Hoeffler ( for more information. We hope you’ll join us this fall!

Excerpt from a thank-you card from a third grade student at Josiah Quincy Elementary School.

Excerpt from a thank-you card from a third grade student at Josiah Quincy Elementary School.

Mike Zastoupil and Sam Hoeffler are second-years who had a blast teaching for DINE last year and are now serving as the DINE coordinators. Mike is in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program, and Sam is in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program.

Gaining a Sense of Home in Chinatown

by Danielle Ngo

A little more than a year ago, I moved to Boston after a lifetime in California. I moved here by myself, without knowing any friends or family or tangential acquaintances to speak of. I’m a dual-degree UEP/AFE student and just completed my first year out of three over in Medford/Somerville. Now in my “first year” at Friedman, I’m feeling déjà vu. “Where are you from?” “How long have you been in Boston?” “Where do you live?” All the answers to these questions deceive my self-imposed, overly-complicated place-based identity.


At CPA’s Block Party, an elder pauses in the middle of a watermelon eating contest to size up his opponents.

After a year at UEP, I spent my summer down the street, interning at the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA). On paper, I interned at CPA to support the Chinatown Community Land Trust (CCLT) as a Tisch Summer and CORE Fellow. I worked on affordable housing issues through historic preservation and tax incentive programs. In hindsight, what I gained most from interning at CPA was the sense of family that I longed for and huge sense of respect towards the Chinatown community. In the process of doing some pretty dry research for the CCLT, I soaked up some oral history of Chinatown through conversations with CPA staff and members.

CPA is a minute (really!) walk from the doors of Jaharis, on the first floor of the Metropolitan Building, sitting atop Parcel C, at the corner of Ash and Nassau. In 1993, the New England Medical Center made an offer to the City of Boston over Parcel C, with the plans of building an eight-story parking garage. In what is noted as an environmental justice and community organizing victory, that plan for Parcel C was cancelled. Instead, the Metropolitan was built and provides 284 units of market-rate and affordable housing, underground parking, and office space for community-based organizations, such as CPA.

CPA, as an organization, started much earlier. In 1977, Suzanne Lee founded CPA while organizing Chinatown parents during the city-wide busing struggle, a time when Boston assigned students to schools outside of their neighborhoods in an attempt to desegregate the public schools. Since then, CPA has organized and accomplished many victories for the Chinatown community across housing, labor, language access, voter turnout, youth engagement, and more.


A mural piece in ACDC’s office depicting some historic organizing struggles.

CPA’s office is bursting with such stories about community history, struggles, and victory, making my internship all the more immersing in Chinatown. Back home, I grew up in the suburbs of San Diego, and I was unfamiliar with the unique characteristics a Chinatown could have. Here, there are family associations run through traditional family clans that double as benevolent associations, community organizations, and landowners. There are many Chinese dialects spoken, primarily Cantonese, Mandarin, and Toisanese. Many of the Chinese elders used to work in Boston’s garment factories and restaurants. Josiah Quincy School offers classes in English and Mandarin for a full immersive bilingual education.

With such a vibrant character, I am glad there are organizations like CPA that provide a space for residents and community members to address their concerns. Chinatown is fairly well connected to transportation, but at the same time, they face environmental justice concerns from the air pollution generated from I-93. With the 2016 presidential election in mind, it’s reassuring to know CPA campaigned for Governor Patrick to sign into law the Chinese and Vietnamese bilingual ballots through Boston home rule petition. Over the summer, CPA’s Worker Center successfully aided 236 home care workers employed by Medical Resources to unionize, the first union in their industry in the nation.

I am trying my best to share these stories and take them for more than referential knowledge. I want to use these stories to contextualize my own experience in Boston, and hopefully help my peers at Friedman do so in their own way. To many people and at many times, I am merely a Friedman student, and yet another temporary visitor feeding upon Boston’s academic capital. However, I am working on consciously and intentionally being a solid community member to Chinatown and other neighborhoods I live in (eat, work, sleep, play). In this past summer alone, I reached the basic level of familiarity to its history, present day, and people, enough to feel a second home in this pocket of Boston.


View from the Metropolitan, onlooking the historic row houses in the foreground, affordable housing complex Tai Tung Village in the middle, and I-90 in the background.

I don’t mean to say that I belong in Chinatown, but I do mean to say that Chinatown reminds me of home, and I want others to feel the same way, in their own way. I want my peers at Friedman to step outside of the so-New England brick walls and eat at a local restaurant. My top favorites are a bánh mì from New Saigon, super cheap ($4.99!) lunch special from Jade Garden, or box of rolled rice noodles from May’s Bakery (once they’re done with construction!). I want my peers at Friedman to know that Chinatown is much more than Tufts’ “Downtown Boston” campus, and that two-thirds of the land is still a vibrant community for grandparents, working adults, and youth (aside: May we please say that our campus is in Chinatown, not Downtown Boston? It’s very squarely in Chinatown). I want my peers at Friedman to feel like Chinatown can be a second home of sorts to them, as well. Whether if you’re coming from similarly far distances like me, plus or minus the rest of Earth’s circumference, I invite you to join me in appreciating Chinatown, its history, its present day, and its people.

Danielle Ngo is a second-year UEP/AFE student from Escondido, CA. In her spare time, she enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and watching endless amounts of YouTube videos.

Boston’s Chinatown: Fight For Its Life

by Alison Brown and Abigail Harper

With the rapid construction of luxury high-rises amidst the newly built Whole Foods Market, Boston’s historic Chinatown is fighting for its life, according to a recent Boston Globe article.  In the thick of these evolving changes, the Friedman Justice League is making a push for the Friedman School to support local Asian businesses and gain a better appreciation of the culture in which the school is situated.

Ask any student who began taking classes prior to 2012, and they can tell you about the rapid changes that have happened since then. Between the pristine doorman-manned condos developed on Kneeland and Washington to the Whole Foods on Harrison, the changes are well underway and pervading local lifestyle. People often joke that the development of a Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”) in a once dilapidated neighborhood is a telltale sign of gentrification, and Chinatown will likely follow suit.


By Mike Babiarz

The average annual income for a family in Chinatown is the lowest of any Boston neighborhood at roughly $14,000, and these developments will lead to rising rent prices, pushing out the working immigrant families that have made Chinatown their home. According to Andrew Leong, professor at University of Massachusetts Boston, and evidenced by those well traveled throughout the United States’ urban landscape, this shift follows a national trend: “Working immigrants are being pushed out of downtown neighborhoods close to work and public transportation, while students, doctors, and others move in.”

These most recent developments are not the first to threaten historic Chinatown. When I-93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike initially cut through, roughly 1,200 units of housing were demolished, and the expansion of Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center additionally took over one-third of the land area in Chinatown. As described in the Boston Globe article, however, there is a scramble to preserve the historic Chinatown of Boston. Home to about 4,400 residents, 77% of which are classified as Asian according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston’s Chinatown is one of the largest in the United States.

Organizations such as Chinatown Land Trust are in the process of trying to buy row houses on Hudson Street to set aside for working class families in an effort to prevent rent spikes and maintain current residents. Boston’s housing chief and director of the Department of Neighborhood Development Sheila Dillon is also in the fight to save row houses in the organization’s commitment to preserve the historic Chinatown neighborhood.

While some could argue the placement of the Tufts Health Science campus does not help stem the tide of gentrification, the Friedman Justice League (FJL) believes Tufts has a role to play in supporting the community it is a part of. Between 1990 and 2010, the percentage of college and post-graduate students taking up residency in Boston has increased from five percent to nearly one quarter.

The FJL is working to include a tour of Chinatown as a permanent component of New Student Orientation, in which incoming Friedman students can be introduced to Chinatown’s rich history and culture and become aware of the local businesses to support. In previous years, the Chinatown tour has been offered through the FJL as an extracurricular activity for students through the Asian Community Development Corporation. Currently, members of the FJL are working with administration to examine the feasibility and student interest of such a tour, which is why your opinion is important!

To provide your input on the idea of the integration of a Chinatown tour into New Student Orientation please complete the brief survey.

The Friedman Justice League is composed of students in both masters and doctoral programs at Friedman.  We seek to make our community more diverse and find ways to allow the Friedman community to better address issues of discrimination and oppression in its teachings, research, and programs.  To find out more, visit our blog.

Getting Paid to Eat: Interview with The Boston Globe’s Resident Restaurant Critic Devra First

by Amy Elvidge

A look into the life of the Globes restaurant critic. First shares the reality of her work and advice on how to live the dream as an aspiring gastronomer.

Devra FirstParents coming into town? Valentine’s Day dinner? Craving for a taste of the exotic? Before we head out we usually scour the Internet for restaurant advice, and what better source for gastronomic insight than The Boston Globe’s own Devra First. First lives out every Friedmanite’s dream job as a restaurant critic, challenging her palate with culinary delights in a host of locales—from Michelin starred to taco stands. First takes the Sprout on a behind-the-scenes journey of how she came to the Globe, the relationship between her gourmand life and nutrition, where to dine out well on a student budget, and what it’s like to be an opinionated female in the food world.

First came into her current job after starting as a copy editor and arts editor, and always writing about food on the side. “I’ve always been interested in food, growing up in a household where culinary exploration was the norm and cooking and eating were central activities. I have no formal culinary training, but I do love to cook,” she added.

When she reviews a restaurant, the food takes center stage: “I think first about the food: how it tastes, how it is prepared, what kind of thought goes into each dish. I also think about service, atmosphere, and the general experience.”

As we well know, restaurant dishes and their home-cooked counterparts vary vastly in their nutritional content. First chooses not to focus on nutritional aspects of her dining experience unless that is somehow a focus of the restaurant.

“Going out to eat is often about treating oneself rather than sustenance. I do think a lot about nutrition personally, of course. I have been a reasonably healthy eater all my life, and the frequency with which I consume fried, fatty fare has been much greater as a result of my work. I try to balance that with what I eat the rest of the time,” she said.

As a restaurant critic, First is constantly introduced to new and different foods, which may prove problematic depending on health circumstances. First became pregnant in 2013 and entered the world of pre- and postnatal nutrition (thanks for your help, Nutrition in the Lifecycle!).

“I was really looking forward to having strange cravings and was disappointed not to have any. I continued working through my pregnancy, which was occasionally tricky; I tried to avoid the foods that can actually be dangerous but otherwise kept eating as usual while on the clock. Off the job, I remember wanting strong flavors. I ate a lot of falafel with hot sauce and Indian food—of course, I always want falafel and Indian food, pregnant or not.

“My son’s first solid food was banana. He loved it! I didn’t want to give him packaged rice cereal, as doctors often recommend. For one thing, there had recently been a lot of talk about the potential for arsenic in rice. But also, I wanted him to first experience food that was food, not a powdered substance from a box,” she said.

Although food comes first for Devra’s reviews, she keeps cost considerations in the back of her mind. “I review higher-end restaurants, so the bill tends to reflect that, but I do have an eye out for value. A very expensive restaurant can be worth it or a ripoff; if it is the latter, I try to let readers know.”

Not to worry: Devra has a lineup of spots that we can enjoy on $30 or less—particularly near Friedman!

“For $30, you can really eat wonderfully well just about anywhere in this town—from Cambridge and Somerville to Fort Point and the South End. But I believe you have the good fortune of being located right near Chinatown, one of the best places for budget dining. You can great Vietnamese food at Xinh Xinh, excellent soup dumplings and more at Dumpling Cafe, round-the-clock dim sum at Winsor [Dim Sum Café], seafood dishes at Peach Farm, Taiwanese specialties at Taiwan Cafe, and hot pot at Q, Kaze [Shabu Shabu], and Shabu-Zen. I could go on! Other neighborhoods that are great for experiencing international fare at very reasonable prices: Allston (I adore S&I Thai, and there are some good Korean spots) and East Boston (Mexican, Peruvian, Italian).”

The interview would not be complete without highlighting the recent prominence of women in the food world, getting jobs and respect as serious chefs. We got First’s take on food media professionals.

“The role of food editor is fairly evenly divided between men and women, but there are currently fewer women in critic positions. That said, some of the most powerful restaurant critics have been women—I’m thinking particularly of Ruth Reichl in her tenure at The New York Times. Garlic and Sapphires, a book she wrote about the experience, informs a lot of people’s ideas of what it is to be a restaurant critic—disguises, special treatment, and all.

“There are certainly challenges for women who want to be restaurant critics, and many of them are simply the same things we talk about when we discuss the issues women face in any workplace. But also, culturally, women are expected to be nice and sweet. As a critic, one must be willing to say tough things that people won’t necessarily like. I’d love to see more women critics in every discipline; I’d love to see girls taught to be comfortable thinking and writing critically from an early age,” she said.

And listen up Sprout restaurant reviewers: First advises that when experiencing a restaurant you should aim to tell the restaurant’s story. “Try to describe the food and atmosphere in a way that lets people experience the restaurant, whether they will go themselves or not. Feel free to use interesting adjectives, similes, and so on in describing food, but make sure the description still works. Don’t shy away from pointing out the negatives, but don’t be snarky for the fun of it. This is someone’s livelihood. Restaurant critics are consumer advocates above all, but if there is one commandment, this is it, and it is not particularly sexy: Be fair,” she said.

Finally, First goes by her real name, but must have a visually anonymous identity to protect the authenticity of her experience. “I toyed with the idea of using a pen name, but I think it is important to own your work and be upfront. If you can’t say it with your real name, maybe you shouldn’t say it at all? And I never inquired, but I suspect the Globe would not embrace pen names, as an issue of journalistic ethics,” she said.

“Working anonymously is a strange pursuit. So much of journalism is about making connections, and being a restaurant critic is almost deliberately isolating. That is one of the less-enjoyable parts of the gig, as I like talking to people, asking questions, seeing how things are made and done, and so on. I have to quash many of my natural reporter tendencies. I can’t tell you how many times a week someone asks ‘Do you know so-and-so?’ and I reply: ‘I don’t know anyone!’ But there are ways in which anonymity is freeing. I’m an introvert by nature. And it’s nice to be able to run to the store in sweatpants with messy hair. Would I like more recognition for my work? I’m not an attention seeker at all. But I’m pretty sure if you asked any writer in the world anywhere this question, the answer would be yes.”