Reflections on Equity: FJL Takes on the Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge

by Friedman Justice League

Making time for reflection in our busy lives can be difficult. In April 2018, Friedman’s Committee on Social Justice, Inclusion, and Diversity (CSJID) invited the school to do just that by participating in a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge. Students from the Friedman Justice League (FJL) reflect on what they felt and learned during the challenge, and on the implications of these learnings for the school’s community.

In an effort to foster a stronger culture of inclusion, the Committee on Social Justice, Inclusion, and Diversity (CSJID) invited the entire Friedman community to participate in Food Solutions New England’s (FSNE) 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge. The CSJID is a multidisciplinary committee of faculty, students, and staff of Friedman committed to finding ways to promote social justice, inclusion and diversity in its teaching, research, and programs. The three-week challenge took place from April 2 to April 23 and creates time and space for a community to come together to build better social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. These habits range from the personal, such as identifying and deconstructing our own biases, to the institutional, where we think through ways to advance racial justice in our schools and organizations.

To complement the challenge, the CSJID also hosted three informal lunchtime chats every Tuesday to encourage us to find community and connect with each other as we attempt to identify ways we can personally work to dismantle racism and become leaders for a more just, equitable food system.

During the lunchtime meetings, faculty, students and staff of Friedman gathered to share their personal responses to the 21-day challenge, and mull on some of the awkwardness of living out one’s conviction here at the Friedman School, and beyond. Thinking critically about our own biases and race is difficult, but necessary, and having a community of support helps.

Below are the reflections of several members of the Friedman Justice League (FJL) who participated in the challenge. Each one serves as a peek into the diversity of reactions the challenge inspired in the Friedman community. We hope these reflections help others find solidarity through their own process of discovery.


Conversations on race and racism with people of backgrounds different than my own often leave me with a pit in my stomach. I think and rethink about what I said, how I said it, what I should have said, whether I unintentionally offended someone… I tend to get worked up during these conversations, and approaching them with grace is an artform that has thus far eluded me.

As a Latina female that grew up in a low-income neighborhood, I feel a unique responsibility to ‘shake things up’ and ask the hard questions. I struggle with striking the delicate balance between getting my genuine thoughts across and being considerate of people’s different experiences.

The most enriching part of the challenge for me were the lunchtime conversations. Each conversation created a platform for us to ask hard questions in a welcoming environment. We talked about the “micro” and the “macro,” our personal experiences with race and racism and how they impact the entire food supply chain. I tried (not always successfully) to listen, to be thoughtful, and to approach these conversations with empathy and an open mind. Reflecting on these difficult conversations was uncomfortable and hard, which requires immense vulnerability. I deeply believe that venturing out of our comfort zone to talk about these things is the first step to building bridges and creating an equitable food system. I am grateful for the opportunity to try.

– Alejandra Cabrera, NICBC ‘18


Growing up in a Latinx household, we often had discussions about culture, race, and social justice. Throughout my educational career I have sought out spaces to continue to have these important conversations. Being involved in FJL and the CSJID has allowed me to take an active role in promoting equity at Friedman and our food system. Participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge was a great way to reflect each day about how I can be more intentional about addressing these issues both personally and professionally.

One important topic that came up during the challenge was how to build our own capacity for discomfort. We have to become comfortable with discomfort in order to push our growing-edge and transform as human beings. These conversations about race are not easy, but if we approach them with humanity and understanding they can be extremely powerful. I was able to attend the last lunchtime chat. It was wonderful to speak with people of the Friedman community, including professors, staff and fellow students, and share our experiences with race, power and privilege. We all come from different backgrounds and perspectives, but we all had a common desire to connect and shed light on the injustices that exist in our world.

– Alyssa Melendez, AFE ‘19


Two of the anecdotes from the 21-Day Challenge ended up being the most impactful for me.

  1. A woman’s young, black niece who straightens her dark curly hair and then runs to her aunt delighted because now she finally looks like a princess. The aunt’s narrative and reflections on this story helped me come up with a couple questions: Who created a given standard, system or object? What demographic do they represent? Were the implications for equity and racial justice considered? Why do I think certain things are beautiful or good? What and who does that beauty represent? Who does this beauty value and who does it erase? I think these questions can be used as a frame of analysis to help identify some of the ways in which everyday assumptions uphold white privilege and to uncover personal, implicit biases.
  2. In her soil-health analogy, Camara Jones’ compared the nutrients in the soil to the “nutrients”, or access goods, services, and opportunities, in a society. Communities and institutions that both historically had and currently still have fewer “nutrients” continue to produce and reproduce disproportionate outcomes for people of color, along the lines of education, health, home ownership and employment. The analogy was clear, relevant to Friedman, and worth a watch!

In reflecting on Friedman Justice League’s Lunch n Learns and the work we’ve done this year, I realize that conversations with professors and faculty have been quite fruitful and enjoyable. However, we might not even be at that stage yet. Perhaps more structural work needs to be done to establish a more supportive foundation for individual actors to make an impact – for individual professors to adjust their curriculum, for example.

I think a very productive collaboration between the CSJID and FJL next year could be to use the “Assessing our organization” assessment tool from Day 10 to “check our readiness to move a racial justice agenda forward”.

– Tessa Salzman, AFE/UEP ‘18


Especially at this hectic time in the semester, I was grateful just to enjoy conversation and hear from more personal reflections from the Friedman community . The common ground between faculty, staff and students felt like a safe, exploratory to celebrate, lament, even confess. Even when we’re trying to do our best — we’re all human — it’s a process.

– Julie Kurtz, AFE/MPH ‘18


An unspoken justification for not working to improve equity at a given organization is that the people don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to lead this effort. The Friedman Justice League has asked ourselves this question: How do we start without a clear path forward? The resources from Day 10 provided a practical, approachable first step: an assessment of where we currently stand as a collective way to acknowledge our existing progress and our future potential.

The Friedman Justice League seeks 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.

Celebrating Successes in Friedman Student Life, Making Plans for Further Progress

by Danielle Krobath, Ellie Griep, and Silvia Berciano Benitez

As the 2017-18 academic year comes to a close, Student Council reflects on changes to student life and the Friedman community the year brought. In Town Hall seminar in March, we shared the results of the Student Feedback Survey to foster a conversation between students and the deans to concerns and set goals for the upcoming academic year.

Student council town hall results Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition

(pictured here) Kelly Kundratic, Student Life Representative, presenting the Spring 2017-18 Student Feedback Survey results on 3/14/18 at the Student Council Town Hall Seminar.


Tufts Student Council Student Career Services Working Group

Some members of the Student Career Services Working Group (left to right), Jamie Fanous, John VanderHeide and Ellie Griep, presenting on 3/14/18 at the Student Council Town Hall Seminar.

While the Friedman Student Council loves to coordinate volunteer opportunities, First Fridays, and social events to help students unwind, our primary purpose is to represent Friedman students’ opinions while maintaining active dialogue between students, faculty, and administration. This begins with a student-only Town Hall Seminar in the Fall semester, where students freely and openly express their opinions from a confidential platform. The Student Life Representative uses the information gathered in this Seminar to create the Student Feedback Survey, which is circulated early in the Spring semester. The next step of this process takes place during a Friedman Seminar in the Spring, where the Deans, faculty members, administrators, and students all are invited to attend. Student Council disseminates the survey results to those present, and the Deans are able to respond accordingly. Finally, the Council Co-Chairs attend a meeting with the Deans at the end of the academic year to identify action items and set reasonable goals that address the relevant concerns of the student body.

This process has been very successful in the past few years. Recently, the Student Council’s Feedback Process has led to the creation of increased quiet/study spaces at 150 Harrison Ave., brand new computers in the Jaharis Master’s Student Lounge, and a page on the school’s website that aims to make the cross-registration process more accessible for students. Notable is the creation of the Friedman Career Services Working Group, which was founded by last year’s STC co-chair, John VanderHeide, and has maintained ongoing support from Dean Saltzman.

Tufts Friedman School Student Lounge New Computers

New computers in the Jaharis Master’s Student Lounge that were installed following the Student Council’s 2016-17 Feedback Process.


Jaharis Quiet Study Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition

A new “Quiet Study Lounge” was created near Jaharis 156 following the results of the Student Council’s 2016-17 Feedback Process.

As this academic year wraps up, we look to celebrate the accomplishments and progresses that have been made. Yet it is vital that we remain focused on addressing the concerns that came up during the Spring 2018 Town Hall in March. The primary concerns we are currently addressing range between curriculum, career services, and campus life. Student Council has two Curriculum and Degree Representatives, who will use the survey results to work with program directors. Other members are collaborating with the Tufts’ Office of Sustainability and are very close to bringing a composting pilot program to the Boston campus. The First Year Representatives are working with the food service providers in the hopes of improved offerings in the Jaharis Café. Last year’s successes, and these present initiatives, are a direct result of the entire student body’s involvement and desire to facilitate change. When you see those emails in your inbox, take the 5-10 minutes to read them, and if you harbor strong opinions (good or bad!), please let us know.

Many of you may not realize this, but current and prior year results from the Student Council Feedback Survey are available upon request to any current student or professor. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the data, please let any of us know via email at the addresses provided below. After all, we collect this information to enhance the overall Friedman experience.

To maintain the cohesive community at the Friedman School, we must all—students, faculty, administrators, and alumni—be engaged and organized. If you are reading this as a first-year student who wants to become more involved, we encourage you to run for Student Council during the Fall 2018 elections. If you are graduating, provide your contact information to the Office of Alumni Affairs and stay up-to-date with Friedman happenings once you leave. Ultimately, we envision the annual Student Council Feedback Events to continue for years to come, and to include all members of the Friedman community – we recognize this is the optimal way to maintain ongoing, constructive conversations that produce actionable results, like all those we have achieved thus far!

If you have any ideas, feedback, or questions, please reach out!
Danielle Krobath, Student Council Co-chair,
Ellie Griep, Incoming Co-chair 2018-19 Academic Year
Silvia Berciano Benitez, Incoming Co-chair 2018-19 Academic Year

Danielle Krobath is a 2nd year FPAN student who has been co-chair since her second week at Friedman and while she’s sad that her council tenure is coming to an end, she is relieved that strangers will no longer recognize her for her awkward selfie, which is mandatorily on display in the Jaharis Student Lounge. Her favorite food is kale, but that is not unique for a Friedman student.

Ellie Griep is a 1st year FPAN student who can’t believe how fast her time at Friedman has gone by. If you’re named Hermione Granger, or otherwise have access to Time-Turners, please reach out to her using the contact information listed above.

Silvia Berciano is a 2nd year BMN student who loves personalized nutrition (in her case, gelato every day). She spends her time in the lab, developing new business ideas and supporting Friedmanites with the Student Council.

Write, Speak, Tell Stories: The Sprout Media Panel Recap

by Hannah Meier

It was August 6th, 2017—a month before the start of the semester and Kathleen was showing me the ropes of editorial duties over local beer at Area-4, a restaurant just down the road from Jaharis. We went over timelines, passwords and account names, and shared our hopes and dreams for the coming year. One thing we both agreed on: We wanted to make a bigger impact within the Friedman community. Our big idea? Bring The Sprout offline.

Almost 8 months later, last Wednesday, our dreams came to life.

The Sackler classroom we booked for the event was almost fully packed. A show of hands at the end of the presentation reflected a fairly even split of AFE, FPAN and NICBC students. At the front of the room sat five professionals with diverse media backgrounds and extensive resumes; I sat next to them and moderated the hour-long discussion. There was no lack of participation and I was just as enthralled by the rich conversation our panelists generated as I was by the questions our audience posed.

Steve Holt Boston Writer

Steve Holt

The panelists’ careers and experience ranged from all forms of media. Journalist Steve Holt has reported on everything from food to urbanism to crime for print and digital publications like Civil Eats, The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Edible Boston, and TakePart. He uses his work to ask hard questions and tell the stories of the people behind the country’s most inspiring meals and movements.

Caity Moseman-Wadler Heritage Radio Network

Caity Moseman-Wadler

In her role as Executive Director of Heritage Radio Network—a nonprofit food radio network based in Brooklyn—Caity Moseman Wadler oversees the production of 35 weekly shows, interactive events, and special programs covering topics from food policy and agriculture, to the restaurant, food and drink scenes, to the human stories that often go unnoticed in our vast food system.

Liz Weiss Headshot

Liz Weiss MS, RDN

Two of our panelists were dietitians. Liz Weiss has a specialty in family nutrition and is the voice behind the family food podcast and blog, Liz’s Healthy Table. She began her career at CNN as a producer and reporter and hosted over 50 Meal Makeover cooking videos. She’s also covered food and nutrition stories for PBS HealthWeek and has written several cookbooks, including a coloring cookbook for kids.

Stephanie Ferrari

Stephanie Ferarri, MS, RDN

Stephanie Ferrari, a dietitian and owner of Boston-based public relations firm, FRESH Communications, co-hosts a morning news segment called What’s FRESH Around Town on Boston 25 News. She is a contributing author to the Huffington Post, and has been featured in numerous publications like The Boston Globe, Cooking Light, INSIDER, Elite Daily, POPSUGAR, and Good Housekeeping, and has held marketing and communication roles for the New England Dairy Council, The Castle Group, and the Massachusetts Dietetic Association.

Louisa Kasdon The Food Voice

Louisa Kasdon

Finally, Louisa Kasdon brought over 20 years of journalism experience and has convened over 200 food events around New England, including cooking events, panels, teach-ins, conferences, workshops, and advocacy initiatives. She founded and organizes the Let’s Talk About Food Festival, and her most recent project has been to establish a new multi-media platform encompassing print, events, digital, and social media outreach called The Food Voice, New England’s new hub for all things food.

Looking at their extensive resumes, it’s no surprise that the event was a hit. Our panelists brought a true wealth of experience and shared many stories of growing into the field of food and nutrition.

Friedman Media Panel March Event

Conversation Flowing for a Captivated Audience (Photo: Kathleen Nay)

As I moderated, it was difficult to keep track of time as the hour of conversation flowed quickly. Questions posed thoughtful responses that were both applicable and provocative.

Our panelists spoke to concerns about reaching broader audiences than those of publications like Civil Eats, whose readers are more insular than the ones who may need to hear our messages most. In short, the panelists reiterated that in order to reach an audience outside of our bubble, we tell the stories of those on the outside. We need to think about who is reading or listening to what we are saying, and what their very real, often practical, needs are. Liz Weiss bluntly acknowledged that “people don’t like to read about food policy.” She and other panelists agreed that storytelling and emotion help pull readers in to your message and listen. Once an audience feels emotional about a topic, or feels threatened by the loss of something personal, they will pay attention. As communicators, those are the stories we need to practice telling.

When asked about personal biases and balancing professional background and personal opinion with the needs or desires of a client, Stephanie Ferrari was quick to point out that there is never a reason to short-change your message or betray the science in favor of business. Protect your credentials and trust your understanding of the science. Companies and clients will be grateful for your insight and expertise. Louisa Kasdon agreed, “you can’t write about something that isn’t true—it won’t get you far and will come back to bite you in the end.” Stay true to your values and remember that you always have the option to say no if working with a particular client truly does not feel right.

Friedman school of nutrition communications media panel

The Friedman Sprout team and our lovely panelists. From left: Hannah Meier, Louisa Kasdon, Caity Moseman-Wadler, Stephanie Ferrari, Steve Holt, Liz Weiss, Kathleen Nay, Erin Child (Photo: Kathleen Nay)

Finally, all of the panelists agreed that to get far in the world of communication, get started today. Steve Holt encouraged us that no time is too early, and the playing field for writers is more level than most expect in terms of pitching ideas to editors. On the other hand, Louisa pointed out that she would like to see a few work examples before trusting someone with an assignment or editorial content. Liz Weiss encouraged all of us to stay focused and follow our dreams. Caity Moseman Wadler advocated for standing up for your worth as an intern and budding professional, and for building a network of experiences with individuals and publications that align with your values and your goals.

Heed expert advice: Write for The Sprout. Investigate the stories you’re curious about now. You never know where it could take you.

Hannah Meier RD, LDN is in her final semester of the Nutrition Communication and Behavior Change program and serves as the current co-editor of The Sprout alongside Kathleen Nay. She was thoroughly jazzed to coordinate the first-ever panel of professionals event with immense support from the other editors, panelists, and the team at Friedman. In May, she is excited to take on a full-time role with the start-up food company 88 Acres as their Nutrition and Communications Lead and is grateful for the opportunity to gain immense writing and editorial experience with The Sprout during her time at Friedman.

The Top 10 Boston Food Events of Spring 2018

by Liz Learned

Attention: Do you love food? Are you looking for fun events to attend in the Boston area this spring? If your answers are yes and yes, then I’ve got good news for you! I’ve searched high and low to compile a list of the top 10 can’t-miss Boston food events this spring. This wide range of food-festivals has something for everyone. Whether you’re tight on cash or an avid charity-donor, a vegetarian or a meat-lover, you’ll find something to add to your calendar!


Cambridge Winter Farmers Market


  1. Cambridge Winter Farmers Market

When: Saturday, April 7th, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

Where: Cambridge Community Center Gym

To kick things off, the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market will hold its last event of the season on April 7th. The indoor market hosts over two dozen vendors, offering a wide variety of locally sourced goods. You can head to this one-stop shop to stock up on fresh produce, dairy products, meats and fish, fresh-pressed juices, breads and baked goods, specialty foods (jams, pastas, vinegars, etc.), and even body care products. Or, grab some friends and turn this trip into a meal by enjoying a prepared ethnic lunch from vendors such as Indonesian Three Magnolias and Mr. Tamole. This market does not require a membership and admission is entirely free of cost. Even if you’re short on cash, you can still hit up this market to enjoy the live music and free samples!


  1. 16th Annual Taste of South Boston

When: Sunday, April 8th, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: Plaza Ballroom at the Seaport Hotel

Make your way over to the Seaport waterfront to explore the offerings of South Boston’s restaurants. With over 30 participating establishments to sample from, you’re certainly in for a culinary adventure! Whether it’s Loco’s Mexican flavors, Legal Test Kitchen’s seafood specialties, Blue Dragon’s Asian masterpieces, or Sweet Tooth’s baked goods, even the pickiest of eaters could find themselves in flavor heaven at this event. While this is a pricier outing—at $55 per online ticket and $65 per ticket at the door—your money will not go to waste. Not only are you getting the opportunity to sample dishes from South Boston’s finest restaurants, but the proceeds directly support the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation. The mission of this non-profit organization is to provide affordable housing for the community, support the economic development of small businesses, improve access to healthy foods, and address environmental issues.


  1. North End Pasta Crawl

When: Monday, April 16th, 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Where: Boston Public Market

If you’ve hopped on the charity bandwagon with the last event, then be sure to also check out the North End Pasta Crawl. The proceeds will support the Roxbury Youth Orchestra, a project run by Revolution of Hope that aims to transform the lives of inner-city youth by offering community, teaching workforce skills, and creating an artistic outlet. With the purchase of the $55 pasta crawler ticket, you receive a commemorative T-shirt and get to enjoy samples from four of the North End’s restaurants. Are you a wine lover? If so, upgrade to VIP for $10 more and get two glasses of wine during your crawl! Whether you’re a pasta fanatic, a charity supporter, or a runner looking to carbo-load after completing the Boston Marathon, you don’t want to miss this Marathon Monday event!


Colorful taco from taco festival


  1. Boston Taco Festival

When: Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6th, 10:00 AM-10:00PM

Where: City Hall Plaza

If the last two events were outside of your budget, have no fear because this Cinco de Mayo celebration will likely fit the bill without shorting on the fun! The $15 general admission pass gets you access to a day of live music, taco vendors, beer tents, lucha libre wrestling, taco eating contests, and best taco award ceremonies. For the hardcore Taco Fest enthusiasts: upgrade to VIP for $60 more and get a variety of perks, including early admission, open bar access, free taco vouchers, raffle tickets, complimentary corn tortillas, and a bottle of Rocky’s Hot Sauce.


  1. Farm Share Fair 2018

When: Thursday, May 10th, 5:30 PM-8:30 PM

Where: The Center for Arts at the Armory (Somerville)

Have you found that living in the city is a barrier to accessing fresh, local food? If you’re interested in getting easy, convenient, and consistent access to fresh produce (and perhaps local meat, eggs, and cheeses, too) then Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is definitely for you. CSAs are a farm sharing method in which customers pay an up-front cost and then receive weekly distributions of seasonal goods. The Farm Share Fair is an opportunity to learn more about the economic, environmental, and health benefits of CSAs, as well as to compare the different programs that are available (varying in-home delivery vs. pick up, types of products, and more). So, whether you’re new to CSAs or a current participant seeking more knowledge on program variety, don’t hesitate to attend this free event!


  1. Lamb Jam

When: Sunday, May 20th, 3:00 PM- 6:00 PM

Where: SoWa Power Station

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve spent countless hours getting emotionally invested in episodes of Food Network’s “Chopped”. Well, lucky for us, Lamb Jam is the chance to become a part of the action! Next month, 16 of New England’s most talented chefs will compete in a live cook-off for the title of “Lamb Jam Boston Champion.” The intention of this event is to celebrate the efforts of 80,000+ family-operated farms across the nation. For $75 you will not only get to watch the action unfold live, but also get the chance to vote, eat, and have fun. Admission includes access to a festival of bartenders, winemakers, brewers, and culinary expert demonstrations, and it’s all accompanied by live music and art!


Participating Contestants Gourmet Ice Cream Bowl

Participating Contestants (Photo:

  1. The Gourmet Ice Cream Bowl

When: Wednesday, May 23rd, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: WGBH Studios (Brighton)

Breaking news: ice cream is not just for kids! If you have a sweet tooth, this 21+ event is perfect for you. By purchasing a $25 admissions ticket, you will get the opportunity to sample a variety of ice cream (from classic to innovative) from four competing local brands. Make this outing of ice cream-sampling, vote-casting, and drink-sipping a fun night with your friends! The event will conclude with the ceremonious awarding of best chocolate, best wild card, and people’s choice ice creams. But if the ice cream and competitive atmosphere isn’t enough to draw you in, perhaps you will be motivated by the fact that “Holiday Baking Championship” finalist Joshua Livsey as well as “Chopped Grill Master” & “Top Chef” All-Star Tiffani Faison will be in attendance as guest judges!


  1. Fine Art & Food Trucks

When: Saturday, June 2nd, 11:00 AM-6:00 PM

Where: Babcock Street (Coolidge Corner)

If you love art as much as you love food, then this free outdoor art festival is a must. Enjoy indulgences from Boston-based food trucks as you peruse and shop the work of 70 selected artists and makers. Choose between Bon Me’s innovative Asian dishes, The Chubby Chickpea’s Middle Eastern cuisine, The Dining Car’s gourmet sandwiches and salads, Revelry’s Cajun and Creole flavors, and the Trolley Dog’s unique hot dog menu… or try them all! And while you’re there, be sure to check out Hive—a mobile event space offering a lounge and full-service bar with a unique cocktail menu.


  1. Taste of the Nation

When: Tuesday, June 5th, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM

Where: Cruiseport Boston

While this event is the most expensive on the list—ringing in at $95 for general admission—it certainly should not be ignored, as 100% of the proceeds from this event will support No Kid Hungry’s effort to end childhood hunger. Over 60 of Boston’s top culinary professionals will offer tastings of their creations, paired with premium beers, wines, and spirits. Last year’s event raised over $140,000 toward No Kid Hungry’s important cause, so now is your chance to get involved!


Boston Food trucks downtown at an event

Boston food trucks at an outdoor event (Photo:

  1. Summer Solstice Celebration

When: Thursday, June 21st, 5:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: Harvard Museums of Science & Culture

Finally, say goodbye to Spring with a bang! On the longest day of the year, the Harvard Museum of Science and Culture is offering free admission to their solstice event, which includes access to all four museums, live performances, flower-crown crafting, and other sun-inspired activities. Most importantly (in my opinion), an assortment of Boston’s best food trucks will be present, providing the fuel to accompany the fun!


Liz Learned is a first-year MS student in the Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change program at Tufts University’s Friedman School. Liz currently works as the Communications Research Assistant for the USAID funded Food Aid Quality Review project here at Friedman. She received her BS from Union College in 2017, with a major in Psychology and minor in Sociology. Outside of academia, you can find Liz hiking, cooking, and spending time with her dog! 

Friedman Hosts the 2018 Global Food+ Symposium

by Sam Jones

The second annual Global Food+ Symposium was hosted at Tufts University’s Friedman School this year. Innovative research being conducted at Tufts, MIT, Boston University, and Harvard University in the realm of the global food system was presented in speed-dating style, with each speaker giving only a seven-minute talk. Only some of the takeaways are reported here; the entire event can be viewed online.

February 16, 2018 marked the second annual Global Food+ Symposium, hosted by Tufts University at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. This year, 23 researchers from Boston University, MIT, Harvard, and Tufts shared the findings of their work in seven-minute presentations on topics ranging from microbiology to nutrition to theology. I attended the conference in its entirety from 12:30 to 4:30 on a Friday afternoon because I wanted to learn about what other researching in our consortium of schools are investigating to gain insight into what the non-Friedman community has to say about the global food system.

Throughout the afternoon, speakers presented fascinating research that touched every corner of the food system. Several presenters from Harvard and MIT discussed how water affects our food system, covering everything from breeding crops to use less water, to developing more adaptable water conserving technologies, and the ramifications of developing a water market in which price reflects scarcity. These speakers together illustrated that whether in the Zambezi River Basin or in Melbourne, Australia, water use and availability affects our food system, but there are steps we can take right now to plan for uncertainty in the face of climate change.

Nutrition was, of course, the subject of several of the presentations. Tufts professor Will Masters discussed his findings on the nutritional quality of baby food. Spoiler alert: the global baby food supply is not actually that nutritious. Alison Brown, a post-doctoral fellow at Tufts presented the research from her dissertation comparing the diet quality and risk of hypertension in foreign-born non-Hispanic blacks to those of U.S.-born blacks. Her findings suggest that the former are better-off than the latter. While useful for developing culturally-appropriate nutrition strategies, it does not delve into the root causes of these differences. A more causal-based study would be useful if the intention were to narrow the gap in diet quality and health between these groups.

Most of the presenters at the symposium used or researched cutting-edge technology to answer some of the most vexing problems in our global food system. Karthish Manthiram from MIT, for example, presented his research on how electricity derived from solar panels can be used to create fertilizer. His research found that by using electric voltage in place of high temperatures, a low-footprint nitrogen fertilizer can be created and used by small-scale farmers in even the remotest parts of Africa.

Angela Rigden, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, presented exciting research derived from new satellite data. These data showed that vapor pressure and root zone soil moisture actually explain significantly more variability in crop yields than does temperature alone. Both Jenny Aker from Tufts and Alicia Harley from Harvard separately explored the effects of having access to technology for poor farmers in Africa and India, respectively. They found that even where a technology exists, the targeted problems may not be solved in exactly the way they were intended. For example, Alicia Harley’s research found that poorer rice farmers were not adopting a system of rice intensification (SRI) that used less water because such a practice required control over one’s water source—a luxury most poor farmers do not have. As Jenny Aker put it, one specific technology is “not going to be a silver bullet.”

Water, technology, health, and sustainability were the overarching themes that wove the presentations together. But one researcher stood alone both in his discipline and in his ability to wow an audience of entirely dissimilar mindsets. Dan McKanan, a senior lecturer in Divinity at Harvard University, revealed that the foundations of organic agriculture, organic certification, WWOOFing, biodynamic agriculture, community supported agriculture, and the environmentalist movement all sprung out of a religion called Anthroposophy. In his words, this was a religion that acted as an antidote to the ideological monoculture system—an antidote to the “monocultures of the mind.”

What the innovative research presented at the Global Food+ Symposium made me realize is that there probably will never be a “silver bullet” that can solve the issues of water scarcity, food insecurity, malnutrition, or climate change. But the research that is being done in these interdisciplinary and diverse fields is worth pursuing, whether it aims to solve a big problem in a small place or a small problem on a global scale.

Sam Jones is a first-year AFE student with a passion for sharing others’ stories. She is currently an intern at Culture Magazine nd hopes to pursue a career in sustainable agricultural development and food journalism.

Opening the Unpaid Internship Opportunity: Friedman’s New Direct Service Scholarship

by Julie Kurtz for Friedman Justice League

In February, Friedman students launched a Crowdfund Campaign for a Direct Service Internship Scholarship. In the video, witness the stories of past students who engaged in direct service internships. If you’re a first-year student, consider applying for the scholarship. And everyone: the campaign has 7 days left—donate and share to support service learning at Friedman! #Give2Serve 

“Is it paid? Ugh, bummer.”

“Nope, can’t do it.”

“Please tell me there’s a stipend…”

We’ve heard this story from Friedman students searching for their summer internships. Despite great interest in working for organizations that align with their passions and professional goals, they simply can’t swing an unpaid summer internship.

During a Faculty-Student Lunch n’ Learn last December, Friedman Justice League (FJL) heard a related need: faculty and student participants identified service learning as a gap in our Friedman education.

To address these two challenges, FJL initiated a crowdfund campaign to raise $4,000, enough to fund one student for a 10-week, direct service summer internship. Since many service and social-justice oriented internships cannot offer a stipend, the scholarship will support students in pursuing their desire to serve when funding opportunities are limited. Though initiated by FJL, it’s a community-wide effort! Faculty have been donating, Dean Mozaffarian has tweeted, and the administration has affirmed their support for this critical student effort.

Despite the modest financial goal, the impact will be sizable. Beyond the lifelong impact on the recipient and the service provided to the organization, the internship will nurture a relationship between community partners and Friedman.


What does this mean for students?

  • If you are a first-year student, please consider applying! Friedman administration will choose a recipient whose internship meets the values of the scholarship. All unpaid service or social justice internships are eligible!
  • Donate and share! The campaign runs till March 8th. Every little bit helps, and so does sharing the campaign with your friends and networks!


What do we mean by direct service?

It can mean many things, but here are two examples from Friedman alums:

  • Alison Brown, PhD developed a program called ‘Keep it Real: Better Food for Better Health’ at a community fitness center in Dorchester. Her program worked with women and children to cultivate fitness and nutrition skills for healthier lifestyles. It was memorable for Alison to see people grow healthier and become excited about cooking healthy foods. For Alison, direct service is about empowering disenfranchised communities while paving the way for rooted and relevant policy change.
  • As a Master’s student at Friedman, Dan Hatfield, PhD led a walking and running-based physical activity program for 6th grade boys in East Boston. Dan worked directly with the community to develop an evidence-based program. The boys learned to set, track, and accomplish their physical fitness goals. Dan, in turn, was inspired to pursue a PhD and continues to do work that bridges the gap between research and practice.

We hope this initiative communicates to the Friedman administration the student body’s desire for direct service opportunities and the need for assistance to make it possible. This direct service scholarship sets a precedent. Friedman’s summer internship requirement is one of the few opportunities we have to explore service learning before diving into our careers. We encourage all first-years to consider applying, and invite everyone to donate to make it possible!

Julie Kurtz (MS/MPH) joined FJL in 2016, after her professional experience impressed upon her that community involvement matters as much as one’s job description. She loves the rich history of Friedman students who have contributed to FJL’s unique DNA.

Friedman Policy Corner: A Call to Action for Aspiring Food Activists

by Ayten Salahi (MS/RD-FPAN) and Marielle Hampton (MS-AFE)

On February 5, the Friedman Food Policy Action Council (FFPAC) convened its inaugural meeting. Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern stopped by to offer words of wisdom, encouragement, and a call to action.

Congressman Jim McGovern offers words of wisdom at the inaugural meeting of new Tufts advocacy group, Friedman Food Policy Action Council.

Congressman Jim McGovern offers words of wisdom at the inaugural meeting of new Tufts advocacy group, Friedman Food Policy Action Council.

Congressman Jim McGovern surprised Tufts students with an impromptu visit at the first meeting of the newly formed Friedman Food Policy Action Council (FFPAC) on February 5, one week before the Trump administration announced its budget request for fiscal year 2019. Congressman McGovern, champion of anti-hunger causes and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Nutrition, was visiting the school to discuss his recently launched bipartisan Food is Medicine Working Group in the House Hunger Caucus.

During the meeting, Congressman McGovern expressed his appreciation for the student initiative to get involved in advocacy, since “academia doesn’t always translate into activism.” When FFPAC founding member Ayten Salahi requested words of wisdom for students looking to get involved in political action, McGovern chuckled. “This is the toughest year you could have picked to get started, but that’s why it’s so incredibly important.”

He urged students to remember that people in government are supposed to be working for them. Even in the current political climate, he said, “pressure works.”

So how can students and citizens help? “Every elected official has one thing in common: they want to get re-elected. These issues are important enough that these people need to know if they’re not with you, you’re not with them. There has to be consequences… Nobody would tell you they’re pro-hunger, but judgment should be based on actions.

The Congressman then offered a crucial piece of advice that he adopts in his professional and personal life: Correct misinformation and provide facts.

Even in Congress, falsehoods are repeated regularly. He makes a point to correct the record, whether at a family dinner or among colleagues. “The average SNAP benefit is only about $1.40 per person per meal and the majority of people on SNAP are kids and senior citizens or disabled,” he explained. “The majority of beneficiaries who can work, work. The majority of people on SNAP are white, despite misconceptions. The USDA has been very effective at cracking down on SNAP fraud.”

Congressman McGovern’s guidance to hold our elected officials accountable may prove especially important for food and nutrition advocates this year, with changes to the Farm Bill slotted for congressional review in March.

On Monday, February 12th, the Trump administration announced its budget request for fiscal year 2019, which included a plan to cut 30% – $214 billion – from the SNAP budget over the course of 10 years. The proposed “cost-savings” would result from a major shake-up in the program’s benefit structure. Among the proposed changes, one has received significant publicity: Instead of receiving monthly funds loaded into EBT cards as is currently done, SNAP beneficiaries receiving $90 or more per month would receive half of their benefits in the form of a “USDA Foods Package,” packed with predetermined food items specifically chosen for their long shelf life. The package would include cereals, pastas, canned foods, peanut butter, and shelf-stable milk. Notably, no fresh fruits and vegetables would be included. No one has seen if or how these changes would be reflected in the 2018 Farm Bill.

While the administration calls the proposal a “cost-effective, Blue-Apron-style approach” with “no loss in food benefits to participants,” stakeholders are skeptical that the proposed “Harvest Box” is anything more than a distraction from work underway behind the scenes to slash federal funding for food assistance programs. Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says, “I don’t think there’s really any support for their box plan. And, I worry that it’s a distraction from the budget’s proposal to cut SNAP by some 30 percent. That’s the real battle. But all anyone is talking about today are the boxes.” Ranking democrat on the agricultural committee Senator Debbie Stabenow also cautions that this “isn’t a serious proposal and is clearly meant to be a distraction.” Shortly following the release of the budget proposal, administration officials admitted that the food box plan had “virtually no chance of being implemented anytime soon,” rousing further suspicion around the administration’s motives in publicizing it so widely.

During his visit with FFPAC, Congressman McGovern expressed similar concerns, and emphasized how important it is that food policy activists and SNAP beneficiaries alike demand transparency from members of the House Committee on Agriculture on the drafting of the 2018 Farm Bill. Despite his role as Democratic ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Nutrition, Congressman McGovern shared that neither he nor his Republican counterpart has seen a single sentence of the updated Farm Bill, now under review with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He cautioned this lack of transparency around the latest draft as “a sign that someone is hiding something.”

Though it remains to be seen, the bill is anticipated to reflect significant reductions in the federal SNAP budget, which will have a direct and jarring impact on the sustenance and economic freedom of nearly 46 million low-income Americans who depend on the program to nourish both themselves and their families.

In his closing remarks, Congressman McGovern issued a call to action for us at Friedman – and for all those invested in the protection of health equity, food security, and social welfare – to call our representatives, and to demand transparency around the content of the latest Farm Bill, and when it will be made available for review. In the coming months, FFPAC pledges to maintain a finger on the pulse of the upcoming Farm Bill and rally advocates to hold representatives accountable for votes that jeopardize SNAP program benefits.

Friedman Food Policy Action Council (FFPAC) is a student-run organization of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Our mission is to advance evidence-based nutrition and agricultural policies in support of public and environmental health, by equipping students with the skills and relationships necessary to impact policy through advocacy. For more information, or to join FFPAC, please contact

Ayten Salahi is a first-year FPAN MS/RD candidate, co-founder of FFPAC, and is dedicated to the future of policy, programming, and clinical practice in sustainable diets and nutrition equity. Ayten came to Friedman after working as a molecular and clinical researcher in neuropharmacology and diabetes management for nearly 8 years.

Marielle Hampton is a first-year MS candidate in the Agriculture, Food, and Environment program and a co-founder of FFPAC. Marielle began her studies at Friedman after spending five years working with small farmers on Hawai‘i Island.