Volunteer at an event that is sure to inspire! Girls On The Run 5K

by Dani Bradley

Looking for a volunteer opportunity where you can be outside, be physically active, and help empower girls? Dani Bradley tells us what she loves about Girls on the Run, and how you can get involved this winter.

Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Has the cold weather stifled your fitness inspiration? That’s nothing girls with pink tutus and sparkles can’t fix.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is an amazing organization that “inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running”. GOTR empowers and educates young girls, in grades three through eight, to help them realize their full potential and provides an unmatched opportunity to develop healthy habits in our youth. The organization began in 1996 in North Carolina and now has over 225 councils across the country! During a 12-week season, girls participate in a program that integrates running and lessons about various GOTR values such as, empowerment, responsibility, and healthfulness, to name only a few. Girls can sign up with specific ‘sites’—usually the town they live in or the community program they are a part of. Any town or community center can start their own site through their local council, with their own funding or as a scholarship site, as long as there are volunteer coaches and girls that are ready to sign up!

When I first became involved with GOTR I was interested in becoming a coach, but unfortunately my job before becoming a Friedman student didn’t allow me to partake in the after-school practices. A former co-worker and I reached out to GOTR’s 5k team leader asking how we could get involved and she told us the Greater Boston council was in the midst of planning their first 5k! We quickly got involved and became the co-chairs to the volunteer committee on the 5k planning team. While my involvement is primarily behind the scenes, it is extremely gratifying to know that I play a role in the success of the program and can positively contribute to each girls’ experience! I think most Friedman students share in GOTR’s values of health and fitness and can appreciate the impact that can be made when young girls are taught healthy habits early in life.

Ready to get inspired? This December the Greater Boston council is hosting its Fall 5k at Dedham High school and you can volunteer! In my opinion, the 5k is the most exciting part of the program. Each girl and her ‘running buddy’ (usually a parent, guardian, babysitter, etc.) partake in a fun-filled day of exercise, empowerment, and excitement!

In my position as volunteer committee co-chair, I co-manage all of the event’s volunteers. Each year, over 100 inspired volunteers help us run the event.

Volunteer opportunities include (but are not limited to):

  • Course Marshals are assigned a specific location on the course where they help guide the runners in the correct direction and cheer them on.
  • Happy hair volunteers participate in the pre-race activities including helping girls with their hair (braiding, spray-painting, etc.), temporary tattoos, face painting, operating a photo booth, and other fun activities!
  • Water stops volunteers help set up the water stations along the course, hand out water to runners, and clean up the area after the girls have passed by. This is a great option if a group of people all want to volunteer together.
  • Registration volunteers help the GOTR team with runner check-in.
  • Sparkle Runners are volunteers that register to run the race. Each girl is required to run with a ‘running buddy’ for safety purposes, but each year some running buddies cannot make it last minute. Sparkle runners can stand in for missing running buddies or just run the course helping to cheer on all the girls.
  • Cheer Hub volunteers motivate the girls at the toughest parts of the course using noisemakers and signs.
  • Merchandise volunteers manage the merchandise table and sell our awesome GOTR gear.
Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Photo: GOTR Facebook page

Our upcoming 5k is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th at Dedham High School in Dedham, MA.

Grab your friends, classmates, roommates, coworkers, or family and register to volunteer with us!! The deadline to register is Sunday, November 27th.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at Danielle.bradley@tufts.edu. I hope to see you there!

Learn more about Girls on the Run and Girls on the Run Greater Boston.

Dani Bradley is a MPH/FPAN dual degree student. She began at the School of Medicine in January 2016 and is currently in her first semester at the Friedman School. In her free time, she enjoys running, spending time outside, and watching The Office or Parks and Recreation.  

We Found East Asian-Inspired Soul Food in a Hopeless Place

by Julia Sementelli

Little Big Diner is bringing innovative yet comforting and delicious East-Asian food to Newton Centre, an often overlooked culinary spot, and helping to put the suburb on the foodie radar.

I step into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant to see two chefs, one tossing ramen noodles and the other seasoning and tasting his giant pot of steaming something, and a slew of happy patrons slurping bowls of broth. This is a no reservations place with a line out the door. As I wait for my name to be called I suddenly remember that I am in Newton. Not hip Cambridge, not the trendy South End. Newton, Massachusetts. A suburb known for its wonderful school system and the hometown of Friends star, Matt LeBlanc. As a native, I know that Newton isn’t necessarily known for its culinary scene. While Newton is speckled with some delicious, homey spots, it isn’t my first choice when I want new and exciting food. Or even second. But this suburb has begun to step up its culinary game. Sycamore, a new American restaurant known for its use of seasonal and local ingredients, put Newton Centre on the map in 2013. But now, owners, Sycamore chef David Punch and his business partner at Sycamore, Shane Smyth, along with Little Big Diner head chef, Daniel Scott are breaking the mold of Newton dining by introducing another restaurant to the community. And given the line out the door on a rainy Sunday night, it appears their endeavor has been successful.

Having opened only recently, in February 2016, Little Big Diner offers East Asian soul food with organized and efficient yet friendly service. Both times that I dined, there was a wait. That hardly ever happens in Newton, unless it’s 11am on a Sunday morning at a local brunch spot. The host provided an estimated wait time (which ended up being very accurate) and offered to take my cell phone number and call me when a table was ready. Or another option, much to my surprise, was to enjoy a drink while waiting for our table. While the lack of a waiting area does not allow for a very comfortable waiting experience (some patrons were clutching their beers towards the back of the restaurant near the restrooms while I was pressed up against the front door) the fact that we were invited to stay despite the tight fit was a welcome hint of hospitality that is often absent in restaurants. A spiked beverage also makes waiting for a table a bit more enjoyable.

Once seated, our server promptly brought us menus and explained the layout of the menu. The service was memorable, in a good way, because it seemed to be backed by well-trained staff. Tricia Meegan, previously of Sycamore, manages the front-of-the-house. She kept the hectic 19-seat spot running smoothly. Talented chefs are often recruited for restaurants but front-of-the-house can frequently seem like an afterthought. An experienced manager maintained an enjoyable dining experience separate from the food. Waiters were well versed in the menu items and offered to answer menu-related questions since many dishes included a number of not-so-common ingredients, such as shoyu chicken, mayu, and ajitama eggs. They did not flinch at my substitution request to try both of the rice bowl sauces on the side since I couldn’t decide between the two. Water glasses were refilled frequently despite staff having to push their way through the tables to get to our glasses.

Green Papaya Salad at Little Big Diner. Photo: Julia Semetelli

Green Papaya Salad at Little Big Diner. Photo: Julia Semetelli

While the menu appears simple at first glance, the food is packed with inspired flavor. It is divided between Starters, Little Big Rice Bowls, and Noodles. Servings were generous (always something that I take note of) and the food arrived swiftly. They also have a notably high-quality drinks menu with draft cocktails, including a refreshing Yuzu Margarita, sake, local beers, wine, and non-alcoholic options, like local soda. To start, the green papaya salad was a large, shallow bowl of papaya ribbons with toasted garlic, salted peanuts, and chili and citrus. The amalgam of textures—crisp papaya, crunchy garlic and peanuts, and a burst of bright citrus and heat—made for the perfect starter to awaken the taste buds. In my experience, the usual Thai restaurant papaya salads are extremely spicy and consequently difficult to enjoy. But this salad had the perfect amount of heat and, even though the portion was substantial, I was left wanting more. (In fact, I ordered it both times I visited Little Big Diner). Next, the Miso Ramen, their signature dish, was a generous bowl filled with chili ground pork, nori, ajitama egg, bean sprouts, sweet corn, mayu, scallions, and homemade noodles that were both delicate and hearty. The broth flavors were deep and concentrated. On a rainy October night, this dish was perfect.

The next dish was the pumpkin ramen. While pumpkin is rampant in coffee shops and grocery store packaged foods, pumpkin is an unfamiliar addition to an East Asian menu. But the pumpkin ramen was delicious and popular as I overheard multiple tables ordering it as well. The earthy yet sweet flavor of the pumpkin coconut broth was intoxicating. Brimming with smoked maitakes, chili onions, crispy kale, noodles, and topped with pepitas and scallions, this ramen was unique but still had that comforting ramen essence we all crave.

Tofu Bowl at Little Big Diner. Photo: Julia Sementelli

Tofu Bowl at Little Big Diner. Photo: Julia Sementelli

While the ramen is the star of Little Big Diner, their rice bowls will keep me coming back when I want something lighter. The bowls are rather straightforward—select white or brown rice, a protein, and a sauce. While burrito bowls at other establishments are a mess of one-note flavors, give other such bowls a bad reputation, the flavors in this dish held their own as each ingredient seemed to have a designated role. A garden of fresh, bright herbs, including Thai basil, mint, and cilantro with house pickled vegetables on a bed of brown rice provided the vibrant base. Next, I selected shoyu chicken and “that sunny side egg,” which was beautifully cooked and provided me with that oozing egg yolk I always pray for. I sampled both of the sauces, a hot and spicy and a sweet katsu sauce and decided upon mixing both. Separately, the spicy one packed too much heat while the sweet did not provide enough of a kick. Together they made the perfect sweet and spicy sauce. The chicken, boneless thighs were cooked well and remained moist despite not being prepared on the bone. During the other meal I selected the charred heiwa tofu that, unlike most restaurant preparations of it, was not cooked to death. It was tender with perfect char marks and a bright seasoning. Both times, I did find myself wishing that the herbs were chopped a bit smaller as I found myself having to cut them myself in order to avoid a bite full of mint. Overall, the dishes were a bright and creative take on the sometimes widely available heavy bowls of ramen while providing modern dishes like the rice bowl that cater to those who like to choose their own adventure.

Although the food at Little Big Diner is not necessarily groundbreaking, it is a breath of fresh air in a place that has great potential to expand past its culinary mainstays and show food lovers that Newton is just as great food-wise as its neighboring cities.

Rating: ★★★

Julia Sementelli is a second-year Nutrition Communication student and registered dietitian. If you ever need to get in touch with her just go to the Whole Foods or sweetgreen near Friedman. There’s a 99.7% chance that she will be there at any given time, probably photographing an aerial shot of her salad or stocking up on kombucha. You can also find her on Instagram as @julia.the.rd.eats

Alumna Interview: Elizabeth Whelan

by Sarah McClung

Sarah McClung interviews Elizabeth Whelan, a Friedman alumna, about her work with Save the Children in Myanmar and how her degree has helped her in the field.

Friedman alumna Elizabeth Whelan. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Whelan.

Friedman alumna Elizabeth Whelan. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Whelan.

I wish I could write that this interview took place over soup dumplings at Xi Yang Yang Xiao Long Bao Dumplings in Yangon, Myanmar. Sadly, that was not the case, but that is where I met Friedman alumna Elizabeth Whelan on a rainy day this summer. Last year, I was fortunate enough to receive support from the Dr. Elie J. Baghdady Memorial Fund, established by Friedman School alumna Georgette Baghdady in memory of her father to help students interested in humanitarian work gain experience overseas.  I learned that Whelan, currently working with Save the Children in Myanmar, was a recipient a few years back. She graciously agreed to an interview for The Sprout, in which we discussed where her degree has taken her, advice for current students, and some fond memories of the program and life in Boston.

For nearly two years, Whelan has been working for the international NGO Save the Children in Myanmar. She supports the Leveraging Essential Nutrition Actions to Reduce Malnutrition (LEARN) project with the goal of “increasing the capacity of local and international non-government organizations to deliver a more comprehensive approach to food security that includes all three food security pillars: availability, access, and utilization.” She loves living in Yangon and has found being in the midst of the country’s national transition fascinating. (Myanmar was formerly known as Burma until 1989.) She also expressed something I found to be true about Myanmar: the people are some of the warmest and most helpful you will ever meet.

I asked Whelan about how she ended up at Friedman and she shared an impactful experience from her days volunteering with Partners in Health in Haiti in which she was watching a nurse fit a child with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) with a nasal gastric tube. Knowing malnutrition is preventable, Whelan said that it was at that moment she realized that nutrition—in some form—was her calling. Whelan walked me back further in her superhero origin story and explained that her father was an agricultural economist and his work brought the family to Zambia where they lived for five years, during which time the country experienced a famine. As a result, her interest in nutrition and food security began at an early age.

“Friedman really seemed like an obvious decision,” said Whelan. She explained that in the seven years between completing of her undergraduate degree and starting graduate school, she considered other career paths, including nurse midwifery and photography. Whelan realized that all of her work was hunger-related and rather than dismiss the pattern as coincidence, she decided better to recognize it and find a place to pursue her passion more formally.

Some of Whelan’s fondest memories of Friedman include sharing her learning experience (and food!) with other students. “It was nice to be around people who like to cook,” she noted of casual interactions like the Wednesday seminars that made the Jaharis auditorium look like a tapas bar with people breaking out their mason jars and Tupperware full of delectable leftovers.

I am preparing to complete my MS in the FPAN program in December and had to ask Whelan about her last semester. “Plans came through towards the end,” she explained. She applied and was accepted into the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) International Fellows program, which ended up taking her to Ghana after a three-month consultancy with Action Against Hunger (ACF) in Paris, facilitated by Professor Jennie Coates. “Don’t stress about the future and trust that things will fall into place. Tufts has a fantastic reputation in the nutrition community. There’s brand recognition.” I asked if there was anything she wished someone had told her when she was a student and she talked about how graduating with a degree with nutrition in the title creates the expectation that you are a nutrition science expert.

When asked about coursework, Whelan explained that she could not think of a Friedman class that had not come up at some point in her professional life directly or indirectly. She specifically mentioned Professor Jennie Coates’ Monitoring and Evaluation class, Nutrition Science with Professor Diane McKay, Survey Research with Professor Bea Rogers, Professor Will Masters’ economics class, and even though Statistics with Professor Bob Houser was really “painful,” was very useful. Whelan also mentioned a directed study on determinants of sustainability under Professor Coates and Professor Rogers on Title II Food Aid Exit Strategies, which extended into her second year and allowed her to apply what she had learned in other classes in a more “real world” context.

“The thing about Friedman is that the professors are of such high caliber,” said Whelan explaining that she regularly comes across research published by Tufts professors.

I offered to relay messages back to Friedman professors and Whelan said the following:

  • Professor Coates: “I’m impressed by and grateful for the impact you and the food security tools you’ve developed have had on international development. My colleagues and I rely on them regularly.”
  • Professor Rogers: “I didn’t realize how much I learned in survey research, one of the most useful courses I took at Friedman.”
  • Professor Masters: “Your words from a lecture years ago stuck with me, something along the lines of ‘economics is walking back in the chain of causality until you would make the same decision as a farmer, or vendor, or some other person in a low income context. We don’t always understand why people make certain decisions but people are generally doing their best to survive and we need to understand their daily realities.’ These words have proven true and useful working in the field.”

And I of course had to ask Whelan about food. She found it difficult to name just one favorite, but some of her top picks include soup dumplings, fruits (particularly some of the exotic ones from Myanmar like mangosteen and pomelo), classic pecan pie, and—my favorite response—vanilla baked goods, including highly processed yellow cake from the grocery store – we’re talking sheet cake from Stop & Shop.

When asked to name her favorite things about Boston, Whelan mentioned fond memories of the walk from the T to the Medford campus, Prana Power Yoga, quintessential pubs and coffee shops, and living amongst so many students and feeling like a part of a larger academic community.

I knew after our soup dumpling lunch that Whelan was someone I wanted to keep up with. Work in international development can be disheartening, and I come across people who have become demoralized and cynical more often than individuals who have a positive outlook. Whelan obviously genuinely enjoys her work, and it was inspiring to speak with her about her efforts in the field as I prepare to leave Friedman. To learn more about LEARN or Save the Children, you can check out their websites. And should you find yourself in Yangon, do reach out to one very impressive alumna.

Sarah McClung is a second-year, second-semester FPAN student hoping to use her Friedman degree to help feed hungry people… but not like as a waitress. Please send any job leads. But like seriously.

AFE Students Visit University of New Hampshire’s Fairchild Dairy and Organic Research Farms

by Kathleen Nay

On Saturday, October 22, students from the Fundamentals of U.S. Agriculture and Agriculture, Science and Policy II classes visited two dairy farms at the University of New Hampshire. Kathleen Nay documented the field trip for the Friedman Sprout.

The maternity barn at the University of New Hampshire’s Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. Fairchild is a conventionally-run dairy operation, typical of those seen across New England. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Saturday mornings are normally for sleeping in—the one rare day a week I can afford a leisurely wake-up time. Not today. Today my alarm is set for 5:30 am; I’m joining my fellow Agriculture, Food and Environment students for a day trip to visit two dairy farms at the University of New Hampshire: the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center in Durham, NH, and the Organic Dairy Research Farm in Lee, NH. Hot tea in hand and warm oatmeal in my belly, we make our way up I-95 and take in the beautiful fall colors along the drive.

Dr. Pete Erickson, professor of biological sciences and extension dairy specialist, meets us at the Fairchild Dairy where he introduces us to his doctoral student, Kayla Aragona, who manages several pregnant cows and calves in her research on colostrum quality. (Colostrum, the first milk produced after a cow gives birth, is key in supporting the health of her young calf.) They give us a tour of the Fairchild Dairy, a typical New England dairy operation that is home to about 90 milking-age Holsteins and Jerseys and 70 young replacement heifers. The facility relies heavily on undergraduate student labor, including students participating in the CREAM program (Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management).

Before entering any of the barns at Fairchild Dairy, we slip plastic disposable boots over our footwear. This is a biosecurity measure meant to prevent the spread of pathogens to or from the farm animals. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Before entering any of the barns at Fairchild Dairy, we slip plastic disposable boots over our footwear. This is a biosecurity measure meant to prevent the spread of pathogens to or from the farm animals. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Students begin the tour of Fairchild’s maternity barn. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Students begin the tour of Fairchild’s maternity barn. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Dr. Pete Erickson leads us on a tour of the facility and answers students’ questions about the New England dairy industry. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Dr. Pete Erickson leads us on a tour of the facility and answers students’ questions about the New England dairy industry. Photo: Kathleen Nay

 Second-year AFE/UEP student Tessa Salzman makes friends with a mama cow. Milk production from these mamas averages 26,000-27,000 pounds per cow per year. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Second-year AFE/UEP student Tessa Salzman makes friends with a mama cow. Milk production from these mamas averages 26,000-27,000 pounds per cow per year. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Dr. Erickson passes samples of corn silage around for students to feel and smell. Silage, a fermented, high-moisture stored fodder, is a primary ingredient in ruminant feed. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Dr. Erickson passes samples of corn silage around for students to feel and smell. Silage, a fermented, high-moisture stored fodder, is a primary ingredient in ruminant feed. Photo: Kathleen Nay

As a bovine nutrition specialist, Dr. Erickson knows a lot about dairy cows’ diets. Here, he shows us a mixture of dried citrus pulp and beet pellets. Beet pellets are a byproduct of sugar manufacturing. Photo: Kathleen Nay

As a bovine nutrition specialist, Dr. Erickson knows a lot about dairy cows’ diets. Here, he shows us a mixture of dried citrus pulp and beet pellets. Beet pulp pellets are a byproduct of sugar manufacturing. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Blood meal, a byproduct derived from the poultry industry, is a high-protein supplement added to cow feed. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Blood meal, a byproduct derived from the poultry industry, is a high-protein supplement added to cow feed. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Pictured: Friedman professor Tim Griffin. This is the sixth time Tim Griffin and Chris Peters have brought AFE students on this field trip to the UNH dairies.

Pictured: Friedman professor Tim Griffin. This is the sixth time Tim Griffin and Chris Peters have brought AFE students on this field trip to the UNH dairies. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Dr. Erickson shows students the dairy’s stores of animal bedding. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Dr. Erickson shows students the dairy’s stores of animal bedding. Photo: Kathleen Nay

A young Jersey calf reaches to scratch an itch. The dairy houses approximately 90 milking-age Holsteins and Jerseys, and 70 young replacement animals, which will become the new stock of milking cows once they reach maturity. Photo: Kathleen Nay

A young Jersey calf reaches to scratch an itch. Fairchild houses approximately 90 milking-age Holsteins and Jerseys, and 70 young replacement animals, which will become the new stock of milking cows once they reach maturity. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Students observe the Jersey herd up close. The milk from the Jerseys and Holsteins at Fairchild is sold to consumers as fluid milk and—everyone’s favorite dairy treat—ice cream. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Students observe the Jersey herd up close. The milk from the Jerseys and Holsteins at Fairchild is sold to consumers as fluid milk and—everyone’s favorite dairy treat—ice cream. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Holsteins watch as we peel off our protective boots and get ready to head to UNH’s organic farm. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Holstein cows watch as we peel off our protective boots and get ready to head to UNH’s organic farm. Photo: Kathleen Nay

After an extensive tour of Fairchild, we head seven miles down the road to the university’s Organic Dairy Research Farm. Established in 2005, this facility was the country’s first organic dairy operation at a land grant university. The farm houses roughly 100 organic Jersey cows, heifers and calves, and the property includes 275 acres of woodlands, crop and forage production, and land for pasture.

Brand-new calves greet us upon arrival at the Organic Dairy Research Farm. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Brand-new calves greet us upon arrival at the Organic Dairy Research Farm. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Students pose for a feeding photo-op. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Students pose for a feeding photo-op. Photo: Kathleen Nay

The organic herd is exclusively Jersey cows. As a breed, Jerseys are prized for the high butterfat content of their milk. These cows average 43 pounds of milk production per day. Photo: Kathleen Nay

The organic herd is exclusively Jersey cows. As a breed, Jerseys are prized for the high butterfat content of their milk. These cows average 43 pounds of milk production per day. Photo: Kathleen Nay

The milk from UNH’s organic herd supplies Stonyfield Yogurt, an organic yogurt company located in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Photo: Kathleen Nay

The milk from UNH’s organic herd supplies Stonyfield Yogurt, an organic yogurt company located in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Photo: Kathleen Nay

UNH’s organic dairy was the first of its kind to be established at a land grant university. Primary areas of research include dairy nutrition and feeds, pasture quality, forage production, compost production, and natural resource management. Photo: Kathleen Nay

UNH’s organic dairy was the first of its kind to be established at a land grant university. Primary areas of research include dairy nutrition and feeds, pasture quality, forage production, compost production, and natural resource management. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Friedman professor Chris Peters (in yellow) walks the pasture with Dr. Erickson and UNH graduate student Kayla Aragona. UNH manages 55 acres of pasture, in addition to 120 acres of woodlands and 100 acres of crops and forage. Photo: Kathleen Nay

Friedman professor Chris Peters (in yellow) walks the pasture with Dr. Erickson and UNH graduate student Kayla Aragona. UNH manages 55 acres of pasture, in addition to 120 acres of woodlands and 100 acres of crops and forage. Photo: Kathleen Nay

The University of New Hampshire’s Fairchild Dairy is open to the public seven days a week between 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Visitors can observe milking at 3:30 pm.

Kathleen Nay is a second-year AFE/UEP student and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. In undergrad, she spent a semester photographing life on a small organic raw-milk dairy in Baroda, Michigan.

Bringing Friedman Together: A Welcome Letter From Student Council

by John VanderHeide

At the heart of the Friedman community sits our Student Council, who is busy planning a host of opportunities to bring Friedmanites together this year. Don’t miss out on these fun events–read this letter from John VanderHeide, Student Council Co-Chair, on how you can get involved.

Getting in touch with our silly sides at Friedman Field Day on Georges Island last semester.

Getting in touch with our silly sides at Friedman Field Day, a Student Council sponsored event on Georges Island last semester.

Hello Friedman,

I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you to (or back to, as the case may be) school after what I hope was an amazing summer. To celebrate our wonderful community the Student Council will be hosting a picnic on Sunday September 11 near the docks on the Esplanade. We bring the food, you bring yourselves and your favorite lawn game or sporting activity. It will be a great way to enjoy a summer day before Boston remembers that it is supposed to be cold here and we have to go inside again.

Finding ways to bring the Friedman community together is one of the things that I enjoy most about serving on the Friedman Student Council. Last year we were able to organize 16 different social events ranging from an “Orphan Thanksgiving” for students staying in town over the short break to the end of year “Friedman Field Day” on Georges Island where we celebrated ending our studies with some fun in the sun. Looking ahead to the coming year, Social Chair Orion Kobayashi has already started putting together a list of events, big and small, that should be a ton of fun. Let him know if you have any ideas or suggestions, and I look forward to seeing you all when you need a diversion from your studies.

Building community structures is another part of the Friedman Student Council that I have found particularly rewarding. One of our roles is to serve as a connection between the student body and the administration of the school. As part of that function we organize a student feedback event each semester to ask your opinion on your experience at the school and how it is being run. In the fall we will be holding a town hall-style feedback event on Thursday, November 3–come and be opinionated. There are also many other less formal ways in which we are able to provide feedback to the administration, so never hesitate to let us know how things are going or if you need anything from us as your representatives. An easy place to reach us is at friedmanstc@gmail.com.

The last of our major functions is to provide funding to the many vibrant student organizations that operate at the Friedman School. During the 2015-2016 school year we were able to fund $3,608 in requests made by seven different student groups such as Friedman Justice League, Slow Food, and Business Link, among others. They used these funds to put on 48 additional events ranging from an Environmental Justice tour of Roxbury to five TED-style talks on new issues in nutrition. We are really excited about seeing the great ideas that you all come up with this year—hopefully we can beat last year’s student funding levels and give you all more money for cool activities.

For those of you interested helping us do this fun and important work, we are looking to fill 11 council positions this fall, including Treasurer, Curriculum and Degrees Representative, Co-Chair, and others. Being on council has been a lot of fun for me, and really great way to connect to the Friedman School. Rachel Hoh, current Student Life Representative, agrees saying, “I started in AFE last spring, halfway through the 2015-2016 academic year. Because of that, I was worried I was going to be playing catch up all semester! Being a part of Student Council has been an immersive experience, allowing me to jump right into social and academic life at the Friedman School.”

So, if anything you read here sounds interesting we will be holding informational meetings the first couple of weeks of the semester with applications due September 16, and elections on September 20-21–watch for more information in your inbox and on social media soon! Having you join us would be a pleasure.

Cheers,

John VanderHeide
Friedman Student Council Co-Chair
AFE/UEP Class of ‘18

John VanderHeide is a second-year AFE /UEP dual degree student studying food system planning and policy in the developing world. He recently spent the summer interning with the UN World Food Programme in Rwanda.

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 (michael.zastoupil@tufts.edu) or Sam Hoeffler (samantha.hoeffler@tufts.edu) 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.

Summer, Sandwiches and Sticking Around: Interning in Boston

by Krissy Scommegna

Making the conscious effort to stick around Boston and be a part of the community isn’t necessarily what every Friedman student is looking for. Some see their time in Boston/Somerville/Cambridge as a stop on the way to their next big thing. However, taking the time early on to invest and become rooted here can open doors to incredible opportunities. Krissy Scommegna talks about how a class at Friedman led to finding an internship and eventually to her appointment as the Director of the Somerville Backpack Program

It’s a typical Friday morning during the school year and at 5:45 am, my phone is gently reminding me that it is time to get up, down a few mugs of coffee, and jump on the orange line to East Somerville to make a few hundred sandwiches. Not what you expected as the classic graduate student experience? Me neither. Shockingly, graduate school is not all grabbing evening beers and having deep discussions about Farm Bill appropriations (sorry, first years!).

The truth is, I wouldn’t be getting up at such an unsightly hour on a day I didn’t have class if it weren’t for Food Justice, an Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) class I took last fall that is cross-registered with the Friedman School. I fell hard and fast for the mission of the two organizations myself and five other students were assigned to work with that semester. My experiences working with Food For Free and the Somerville Backpack Program have considerably shaped my time in Boston, making it clear that Friedman was the right choice for me. Not only did the class help me secure a great internship, I landed a really incredible job.

Food For Free is a Cambridge-based food rescue organization that takes food that would otherwise be wasted and redistributes it to over 100 food programs and agencies throughout Boston’s emergency food system. As a group, we helped Food For Free develop the framework for an Emergency Meal Program for feeding students in crisis.

As the semester drew to a close, I knew I wasn’t ready to be done with this work. I asked Ross Richmond, Food For Free’s Community Partnership Manager, if I could stick around and work with him on the program for my Friedman internship. He obliged and from January to August, we piloted the Family Meals Program at Food For Free, taking leftover prepared foods from Harvard and Tufts dining halls, repacking the food into individual meals, and distributing the meals to people in need. Ross and I spent countless hours in a kitchen smashing up frozen blocks of rice with hammers, prying apart pieces of frozen roasted chicken with crow bars, and agonizing over the most appealing way to package and label the Family meals. Together, we produced somewhere close to 8,000 meals.

In looking for communities that would benefit most from ready-to-eat frozen meals, Food For Free became part of the Feastworthy coalition. This meant our Family Meals would go to feeding homeless families living in the State’s motel shelter system in Brighton. Feastworthy was made possible by the Allston Brighton Health Collaborative, Action for Boston Community Development’s Neighborhood Opportunity Center and their Motel Support Services, and Charlesview Inc. Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program also administered a study that tracked the health outcomes associated with program participation. Working with these different organizations was an incredible learning experience and I was able to understand just how difficult, but rewarding, it is to accomplish a task while staying true to the missions of five different stakeholders.

So what does this have to do with making sandwiches? Well, along with working at Food For Free, Ross Richmond founded the Somerville Backpack Program (SBP) in 2014, a program that provides students in need in Somerville with breakfast, lunch, and snacks on the weekend so that they are able to return to school at the start of the week ready to learn. I started volunteering each week with SBP, packing up bags of food, making too many sandwiches to count (actually – we did count and volunteers made 7,485 sandwiches over the whole school year), and connecting with parents and members of the Somerville community.

Students that participate in SBP are kids who rely on school breakfast and lunch programs and have difficulty getting enough to eat on the weekend. Each week, these students are sent home with a bag containing yogurt, oatmeal, two sandwiches, cheese sticks, applesauce, and two pieces of fruit. Last year SBP served an average of 131 kids a week at eight Somerville schools. At the end of the school year, SBP provided food for upwards of 171 students. Over the 2015-2016 school year, 5,260 bags of weekend food were sent home with kids.

There is something meditative about spending an hour or two after a long week of school putting two slices of turkey and a piece of cheese between wheat bread two hundred times in a row. That is what the Somerville Backpack Program became for me—a way to become a part of Somerville’s food assistance community and get outside of my graduate student bubble and mindset.

Ross and I became close friends, and when he and his wife were asked to relocate to Los Angeles for her job, he looked to me to continue his program. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So… I’m excited to say that I am the new Director of the Somerville Backpack Program. I really couldn’t be more thrilled about this new adventure and getting the chance to provide food for kids that really need it.

This year, we hope to expand our reach and provide food to 300 students in all elementary and middle schools in Somerville. In the fall, students from the Food Justice course will be working with SBP to develop an assessment tool to analyze food insecurity, specifically at the individual school level, to see if we are appropriately addressing need and proposing additional ways to help provide food for Somerville families. I hope to engage students here at Friedman, too; I’ll be organizing a sandwich-making afternoon one Thursday a month (details forthcoming).

Making sandwiches for Somerville students and putting together Family Meals are a bit different from my previous life of working as a chef in Northern California where I spent my evenings rolling out sheets of fresh pasta and plating up shrimp salpićon. Though it all boils down to one point. I’m realizing more and more that my passion is feeding people in any way I can. With one year at Friedman behind me and one more ahead, I’m finding a myriad of ways to make this happen.

Friedman has this incredible way of connecting you with opportunities and experiences you didn’t realize you needed or wanted. I came to school to move away from kitchen work, but the reality is that cooking is what I love and will always be a part of the work that I do. While I hope it becomes a secondary pursuit to a future in agriculture policy, I know my desire to cook for others will never leave me.

So if you have a free Friday morning, stop by Connexion at 149 Broadway in East Somerville (close to the Sullivan Square Orange Line Stop) from 8:45 am till 10:30 am and make some sandwiches, pack up bags, and help feed students at Somerville Public Schools. If you know me, you know there will be some great dance music to get your day started.

Krissy Scommegna is a second year AFE student who struggles to cook for less than 10 at a time. She is constantly thinking about food and if she hasn’t already, will probably try and convince you to volunteer at the Somerville Backpack Program or Food For Free in the near future.