A Statement of Support to our Colleagues at the Fletcher School

by The Friedman Justice League

The Friedman Justice League responds to Anthony Scaramucci’s resignation from the Advisory Board at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on November 28, 2017. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

By Jdarsie11 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jdarsie11 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Friedman Justice League, with support from the Friedman Sprout, is writing to state its solidarity with the students at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy who bravely spoke out when they felt that a member of the Fletcher Advisory Board was not upholding the school’s core values. As a student organization, The Friedman Justice League is committed to finding ways to allow the Friedman community to better address issues of discrimination and oppression in its teachings, research, and programs. We believe the actions taken by fellow students at the Fletcher school reflect this same mission, and for that we affirm our support.

On November 28, financier and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci resigned from the Fletcher School’s Advisory Board after students and faculty rightly called attention to the discrepancy between his unethical behavior and the values befitting a Fletcher School board member. Earlier in November, Camilo Caballero, a graduate student at Fletcher, wrote an op-ed calling for Scaramucci’s removal from the board, following a petition by fellow student Carter Banker to remove Scaramucci from the board. In the op-ed, he described Scaramucci as an “irresponsible, inconsistent and unethical opportunist,” questioning his position on the Advisory board. They feared that the university was foregoing the long-term benefit of upholding its core values for the short-term benefit of monetary gain. Clearly, the actions Scaramucci took towards Caballero–to threaten a lawsuit because of our fellow student’s opinion–illustrate that his values may no longer align with those of the school, and thus he was no longer fit to continue serving on the board.

Our colleagues at the Fletcher school held themselves accountable for creating the change they wished to see within their institution. Rather than resigning themselves to defeat, they took action when they perceived an injustice. They took action when they perceived that “the power of money [was] taking precedent over the power of values.” We stand in solidarity with the brave steps taken by Camilo Caballero and Carter Banker.

We recognize that our Fletcher colleagues Caballero, Banker, and the editors and staff at The Tufts Daily published their articles at great personal risk to themselves, and we applaud them for doing so. In a statement on behalf of the Friedman Sprout, current co-editor Kathleen Nay says,Though we hope our writers would never feel intimidated or harassed into silence by outside forces, the Friedman Sprout upholds its commitment to empowering students’ voices, especially when challenging injustices in our school’s administration and in our food system more broadly.”

In keeping with the University’s vision “to be an innovative university of creative scholars…who have a profound impact on one another and the world,” we should be proud of our Fletcher colleagues for demonstrating the power of democratic free speech, civic engagement, and commitment to values over financial gain. We hope that should an occasion ever arise, the community at the Friedman School would respond with the same amount of conviction and integrity these students exemplified. The Friedman School prides itself in generating trusted science, educating future leaders, and creating a positive impact in the world of food and nutrition. We know that this is only truly possible if we have trusted experts and citizens at the helm guiding it in the right direction. Anything short of this would place the credibility of Friedman, and by extension the science and policy its research generates, at risk.

Moving forward, we also believe it is in the best interest of the university to develop a process for removing board members that are no longer fit to advise our school. Executive Director of Public Relations Patrick Collins noted that there is no known precedent for removing an advisor from a board; they have only resigned when new positions create conflicts of interest. Although in this case Scaramucci resigned, we believe that no person should take being placed in such an honorable position for granted, and that as representatives of our institution they should be held to the highest standards of morality both within and outside of board meetings. We hope that the administration will take action to ensure that only those who continue to uphold the university’s values continue to have the privilege of a seat on the Board of Advisors.

With the brave voices of a few, our colleagues at the Fletcher school made national waves and created an impact that we believe makes Tufts University a more just and ethically consistent institution. We reaffirm our support of the actions of our fellow students. They inspire us at Friedman to remember to be vigilant, to speak up, and to never underestimate the power of your own voice.

In solidarity,

The Friedman Justice League
Alejandra Cabrera, NICBC 18
Tessa Salzman, AFE/UEP 18
Julie Kurtz, AFE/MPH 18
Casey Leger, NICBC 18
Yvonne Socolar, AFE 18
Kristin Sukys, AFE 18
John VanderHeide, AFE/UEP 18
Kirsten Archer, FPAN/MPH 17
Kathleen Nay, AFE/UEP 18
Eliza Hallett, NICBC 19
Alyssa Melendez, AFE 19
Hannah Meier, NutComm 18
Michelle Darian, NICBC/MPH 19
Megan Maisano, NICBC 18
Sara Scinto, NICBC 18
Jennifer Oslund, FPAN 19
Sabrina Kerin, AFE, 19
Jennifer Pustz, NICBC/MPH 19
Leah Powley, AFE 18
Michelle Rossi, NICBC/MPH 18
Hattie Brown, FPAN 19
Ryan Nebeker, AFE 19
Eliot Martin, FPAN 19
Maria Wrabel, FPAN, 18
Katherine Rancaño, NEPI 17/NICBC 20
Rachel Baer, NICBC 18
Madeline Bennett, FPAN 17
Alana Davidson, FPAN 19
Simon Ye, BMN 17/20
Jessica Manly, AFE 18
Caitlin Matthews, AFE/UEP 17
Amy Byrne, AFE/MPH 19
Ayten Salahi, FPAN/DPD 20
Theodore Fitopoulos, FPAN 18
Kimberly Lagasse, NICBC 18
Rachel Hoh, AFE/ UEP 19
Molly Knudsen, NICBC 19
Victoria Chase, AFE 18
Caitlin Bailey, NICBC 19
Sarah Chang, AFE/MPH 16
Suzanne Kline, FPAN 19
Carla Curle, AFE 16
Hannah Packman, AFE 16
Dianna Bartone, FPAN/MPH 17
Elisabeth Learned, NICBC 19
Bridget Gayer, FPAN/MPH 18
Abel Sandoval, NICBC 18
Rebecca Cohen, BMN 19
Nayla Bezares, AFE 19
Sabina C Robillard, FPAN 17
Laura Gallagher, AFE 19
Natalie Kaner, AFE 18
Lindsay Margolis, NICBC 17
Tori Wong, AFE 18
Megan Lehnerd, N14/PhD 18
Laura Walsh, NICBC 19
Alison Brown, FPAN 17
Marielle Hampton, AFE 19
Christine Sinclair, NICBC 19
Rebecca Boehm, AFE 12/17
Johanna Andrews Trevino, FPAN 18

Advertisements

The Friedman Justice League’s Response to the Strategic Plan Launch

by The Friedman Justice League

The Friedman Justice League (FJL) assesses how the recent unveiling of the Friedman School’s Strategic Plan aligns with its own goals and vision for the future, and offers input on how the plan can be effectively implemented. FJL’s internal goals are also expressed, and all Friedman students are welcomed to engage with these efforts, as they please!

Introduction

People of color and low-income people are more likely to experience the injustices perpetrated on both the production and consumption ends of the food system. Having broad racial and class representation in the Friedman School is key to producing alumni who can effectively navigate these issues throughout their careers. Therefore, Friedman Justice League (FJL) student group is eager to promote more diversified representation in our school community.

Last fall, FJL members gathered to conduct a visioning process, through which the group agreed on clear goals for engaging in the school’s Strategic Planning process. Our members served on several working groups and collaborated with other students, staff, and faculty to foster active engagement throughout the School. This planning process and our engagement with the administration over the past many years have led to numerous promising outcomes, including positive relationships with supportive members of the administration and increased opportunities to engage with faculty about curriculum improvements. Two FJL members sit on the Friedman School Diversity Task Force, and FJL members also helped plan the recent diversity and inclusion training at the Boston Health Science campus.

During the Strategic Plan Launch on November 15, we heard from President Monaco, Provost Harris, and Dean Mozaffarian about the Friedman School’s plan for advancing its mission “from cell to society.” Many of our members were present to listen, take notes, and pose questions. As a student organization committed to improving our School’s ability to address issues of discrimination and oppression within the food system, we paid particularly close attention to the  Strategic Plan goals that coincide with our own:

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-4-26-45-pm

Recognition

We acknowledge that the Strategic Plan includes many goals that align and overlap with some of our personal and group values, and are particularly supportive of Goals II, V, X, and XI, which we advocated for within the working groups. FJL specifically encourages the Friedman School to infuse these values in all of its goals by raising consciousness about justice and equity through its curricula and public impact actions. Dean Mozaffarian emphasized the role students played during the planning process in driving social justice priorities to the surface, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the plan. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the Strategic Plan, as we monitor and support the implementation of these goals.

Furthermore, we are optimistic about the progress that is currently being made within Friedman’s Diversity Task Force, which has been working to establish a formal School structure to actualize the Strategic Plan goals related to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The Task Force is comprised of the Academic Dean of Education, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs*, the Associate Director of Admissions, one faculty member, one staff member, and two current FJL members.  The Diversity Task Force has already begun to generate innovative approaches for more targeted recruitment of students with diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the Task Force to recruit, support, and retain future leaders from historically oppressed groups in our society.

Promising Progress, Poised for Action

In the Strategic Plan’s introductory video, the Dean states: “We will also emphasize and integrate principles of social justice, inclusion, and diversity into every facet of what we do.” We applaud the incorporation of this broad commitment. However, the discussion during the launch focused primarily on advancing this commitment through increased integration of diversity and justice issues into the curriculum.

We are also interested in hearing more about the School’s specific plans to address the lack of diversity in the composition of our school, and we hope to see increased representation of communities of color and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in the future. Dean Mozaffarian mentioned the importance of Friedman alumni to the advancement of our School’s values. Like our current students, our School’s alumni are primarily white. World-class leadership from our students and alumni will require that our student body and faculty be composed of people whose lived experiences provide a complex understanding of the successes and challenges of our food system. The Dean’s continued discussion of diversity both in promotional materials and during the launch is promising, and we hope that the School’s commitment to this goal becomes clearer in the near future.

Opportunities for Improvement

The translation of these goals and objectives into measurable improvement is the next step in ensuring a more diverse and well-equipped student body, network of alumni, and faculty. It is important that the School’s efforts to advance diversity and inclusion be rooted in humility. To effect real change, the School must fully and genuinely recognize its starting point in its goal of “expand[ing] and diversify[ing] our student body to train future leaders in nutrition science, policy, and practice” (Goal X). In this vein, it is important that the School accurately present the racial and ethnic demographic data of its current student body, which will serve as an accurate baseline for monitoring future progress. We did not feel that such a presentation was provided during the launch. For example, the graduation photo on Friedman by the Numbers (Page 16 of the Strategic Plan), is suggestive of greater demographic diversity than the current composition of the School. Data on the School’s racial and ethnic makeup exist but were not provided as part of Friedman by the Numbers. These data are presented on the Tufts University Diversity Dashboard, and the numbers paint a very different picture than the image chosen for the Strategic Plan’s promotion. Given that these data are available, we are disappointed that they were not presented alongside the other relevant data about our school’s current composition. It is critically important that the School take an honest accounting of its starting composition and avoid celebrating a diverse makeup that is not yet a reality.

Responsibility & Transparency

All members of the Friedman community share responsibility in the creation of a just and inclusive learning and working environment at the School, and we recognize that this is an important and dynamic moment in the School’s history. With regard to the diversity and inclusion-related goals in the plan, we see both great potential for our school to become a social justice leader, and we also recognize the great challenges that lie ahead.

Given the complexity of addressing systems of oppression through institutional action, we would like to know how the administration plans to delegate responsibility for the implementation of these goals, and are curious about how it will engage the Friedman community in the process of setting qualitative and quantitative metrics for advancing the aims of the Strategic Plan. We recognize that this work is difficult. Significant gains will require the focused and sustained engagement of skillful individuals working within the School’s own system. As such, we advocate for the hiring of at least one dedicated professional capable of advancing the diversity and inclusion-related goals. Schools on the Boston Health Sciences Campus have similar models, in which a designated administrator is focused on such issues. Dr. Joyce Sackey, for example, is the Dean of Multicultural Affairs at the School of Medicine.

We also support the creation of more streamlined, accessible, and transparent communication networks between the administration and the broader student body during the implementation process. One example that the School could emulate comes from our neighbor, Northeastern University (NEU). NEU recently demonstrated both humility and transparency while engaging their community broadly during the University’s recent diversity and inclusion action planning process. We think Friedman would benefit from creating a similar forum for students, staff, and faculty to discuss the process of operationalizing the Strategic Plan’s goals moving forward. Countless other examples of innovative anti-racism actions by higher education institutions exist, and we look forward to seeing which method Friedman adopts as we work to help the School advance its goals.

FJL’s 2016-17 Vision

In October, the Friedman Justice League (FJL) conducted its own visioning process to set priorities for the year. Members shared their personal visions for justice in the world as well as their ideas on the role of the Friedman School and FJL in realizing these visions. The discussion was distilled into three key outcomes:

  1. A plan for internal and external priorities that includes a focus on labor in the food system, examined through educational activities, advocacy campaigns, and curriculum enhancement;
  1. A commitment to engagement with the student body in a more inclusive manner, in an effort to develop broader coalitions around our goal of integrating social justice into all spheres at Friedman; and
  1. A strategic framework for FJL’s programming and activism expressed by the diagram below:
fjlConclusion

In alignment with our own visioning process, FJL remains committed to working with the administration to build on the momentum and traction we have generated together toward social justice and diversity. We remain steadfast in our determination to hold school decision-makers accountable for the goals set forth in the plan. The School’s renewed commitment to innovation, public impact, and social justice are now more important in light of the current political climate, and Friedman is well positioned to make a significant impact within our community and beyond. Now is the time to transform these words into actions, and FJL stands at the ready to support the School in ensuring that its laudable goals around diversity, inclusion, and social justice become its practice.

*Correction, December 6, 2016: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the title of one of the Diversity Task Force members. Matthew Hast used to be the Associate Director of Student Affairs, but is now the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. The article above has been corrected for this error. – Editors

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. To get involved with our discussions, events, and campaigns learn more here or email caitlin.joseph@tufts.edu to be added to the listserv.

 

Visions for a Just and Equitable Nutrition School

by The Friedman Justice League

This is an exciting time in the history of the Friedman School. Dean Mozaffarian has undertaken a school-wide strategic planning process, open to all levels of the school body. Albeit executed under a tight time frame, staff, faculty, and students are being given the unique opportunity to consider in-depth what makes Friedman great and how we can continue to make it even better.

Stirred by our school’s time of reflection and planning, the Friedman Justice League (FJL) has crafted a vision for justice at the Friedman School. As detailed in our mission statement, we are a student organization that seeks to make our community more diverse and inclusive, and to find ways for the Friedman community to better address issues of discrimination and oppression in its teachings, research, and programs. We convened in November to build a shared vision of a nutrition school that embodies these principles.

Discrimination and oppression are at the root of many food system challenges, domestically and globally. The Friedman School must understand these vital issues and provide leadership as they pertain to nutrition and food systems. Methodical action will help Friedman progress as an institution at the cutting edge of research and in the training of future leaders. To this aim, justice, equity, diversity, and cultural appreciation should be central to the school’s strategic planning process. In addition, long-term growth will require personal reflection, open dialogue, sustained action, and inclusive community building. We are pleased to present the results of our conversation and look forward to working together with the entire Friedman community to advance this vision.

Investment in and commitment to justice. Real change requires investment and commitment from all levels of leadership. Progress will rely on transparent and open dialogue that encourages all voices to be heard. Financial investment will also be integral to support these goals, including prioritizing equity and diversity education and training, accessing resources for effective diverse recruitment, and building community partnerships.

Cultural humility and openness. We seek more welcoming social spaces to promote dialogue and community. Recent events at the University of Missouri, Harvard University, Yale University, and others illustrate that racism is still present in higher education. We implore our own institution to take an active role in being anti-racist, starting with the humble acknowledgement that there is still work to be done. To build an open and inclusive environment within the Friedman campus, all students, faculty, and administrators must be trained in cultural competency, cultural humility, and social equity. Proper training will position us as better practitioners and representatives of the field of nutrition in our current and future work.

A diverse student body, faculty, and administration. Our working definition of diversity encompasses race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, and country of origin. To continue being a leader in our field, the Friedman School must be representative of the society we are a part of and work within, both domestically and globally. Institutions across the country are making bold promises around diversity and inclusion, serving as appropriate models from which to learn. For example, Brown University made the commitment to double its proportion of underrepresented minority faculty by 2025 through creation of a new postdoctoral fellowship program and a new young scholars program. It is our expectation that the Friedman School will make a similar commitment to the diversification of our student body, faculty, and administration.

Build justice into our curriculum. We see a gap in the course offerings that are centered on social justice frameworks and diverse cultural perspectives. The FJL diversity sub-committee is working with faculty to enhance teachings on justice in the classroom. We applaud those professors who already address these topics in their courses. We also recognize that this is an ongoing process, through which we hope to see more diverse guest lecturers, additional teaching modules to syllabi on key justice topics, and the inclusion of culture and diversity-related examples or readings to coursework. Changes can take many shapes and forms, but may include:

  • More nuanced race and class analyses
  • Emphasis on food justice and environmental justice
  • Stronger focus on human rights at all levels of the food system
  • More coverage of animal rights and cruelty
  • Emphasis on cultural influences of food and nutrition
  • Greater understanding and acknowledgement of structural racism in the U.S. food system

External partnerships that are diverse, inclusive, and community-oriented. As students and future professionals, we seek more exposure to community-based participatory research methods and projects that involve community interaction. Increased local partnerships would allow us to leverage our institutional strength and work with communities our school directly affects, such as Boston’s Chinatown. For example, Jumbo’s Kitchen partners with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Inc. to educate students at Josiah Quincy Elementary School about basic cooking, nutrition, and health. We look forward to more opportunities to learn from individuals and communities directly so that we may apply our classroom knowledge.

Additional external partnerships could assist with the recruitment of a more diverse student body, staff, and faculty. For example, establishing formal and informal collaborations with state-based undergraduate institutions and strengthening relationships with colleges and universities serving underrepresented minority groups (e.g., Historically Black Colleges and Universities) would assist with these efforts. Fostering relationships with local graduate schools that have well-established enrichment programs with Boston’s middle and high schools (e.g., Harvard School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion) would also be a worthwhile strategy to include underrepresented students in allied health professions such as those within the nutrition field.

FJL is thrilled that the Friedman School is undertaking a school-wide strategic planning process, and several of our members are currently serving on Investigative Working Groups (IWGs) to support this process. We hope that our working vision for justice at Friedman can supplement the school-wide process that continues to make Friedman great. FJL shares many similar goals with the IWGs, such as building upon our external partnerships, improving work-life balance and diversity, increasing the public impact of research from cell to society, improving the educational experience of students, and ultimately creating a cultural shift and transformational change within the Friedman community. We believe FJL adds value to the conversation by ensuring that a justice framework and issues of diversity and inclusion are considered fully. The Friedman School’s progress and continued public impact on nutrition and food in our increasingly diverse nation and globalized world depends on it.

Signed,

Sarah Andrus, MS, FPAN 2016

Madeline Bennett, MS, FPAN 2017

Stacy Blondin, PhD, FPAN 2016

Rebecca Boehm, PhD, AFE 2016

Alison Brown, PhD, FPAN 2017

Sarah Chang, MS/MPH, AFE 2016

Rebecca Harnik, MS, AFE 2016

Sam Hoeffler, MS, AFE 2017

Mehreen Ismail, PhD, FPAN

Caitlin Joseph, MS, AFE 2017

Micaela Karlsen, PhD, NEPI 2017

Kathleen Nay, MS/MA, AFE/UEP 2018

Megan Lehnerd, PhD, AFE

Caitlin Matthews, MS/MA, AFE/UEP 2017

Danielle Ngo, MS/MA, AFE/UEP 2017

Nathaniel Rosenblum MS/MALD, AFE 2016

Rebecca Rottapel, MS/MPH, AFE 2016

John VanderHeide, MS/MA, AFE/UEP 2018

The Friedman Justice League encourages this conversation to continue among the broader Friedman community. We are compiling signatures for this vision, which will be used to contribute to the Friedman School’s strategic planning process. Please add your name if you believe this vision adequately reflects your views and would like to share your support, by December 11: http://tinyurl.com/fjlvisions2015.

Movie Review: Food Chains

by Rebecca Boehm and Rebecca Rottapel

From the filmmakers of Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation, this new documentary portrays the struggles of U.S. farm workers who experience conditions from slavery and low-wages to sexual harassment and total lack of legal power. The film focuses on the efforts of tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida to petition big food suppliers to pay one more penny per pound of tomatoes picked. Food Chains provides a good first look at these important and underreported issues in America.

In the opening scene of Food Chains we are introduced to Immokalee, Florida, a sparsely populated, rural town where people ride their bikes and push strollers in the streets past dilapidated stucco buildings and chain link fences. We meet Lucas Benitez, a farm worker who explains the importance of the farm industry in Immokalee and the plight of the average farm worker there. The scene cuts to a rundown trailer where a group of workers and their families live. Benito Garcia, his wife Carmela and their child are getting ready for work at 4:30 am. Carmela fills a Powerade bottle with milk, packs her son’s lunch into a plastic shopping bag, and hands her son off to Benito. Carmela says to Benito as he walks out the door with their son, “Hurry back so you don’t miss the bus.” Benito pushes his son along the predawn streets of Immokalee to get his son to the babysitter just in time to catch the bus to the tomato fields.

FoodChainsTheatricalPoster-e1409496194559

This opening scene is striking because it provides us a glimpse into the daily life of the average Immokalee farm worker. The living conditions that they endure should pull the heartstrings of any person watching the film. The average American consumer may never have considered the living and working conditions of the person that harvests their food, and this scene alone would be a learning experience.

Hereafter, Food Chains’ thesis is clear: poor working conditions and low pay that U.S. farm workers experience result directly from the downward pressure on food costs exerted by the food retail sector. First-time feature film director Sanjay Rawal and executive producers Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser have crafted a solid documentary that summarizes why this downward pressure occurs and how it can be remedied so that the standard of living of farm workers can be improved without affecting the price consumers pay for their food.

The film strongly places the burden of the problem, and rightly so, on U.S. grocery stores and supermarkets that exert tremendous market power over the prices that farmers receive for their products. Over the last few decades there has been significant consolidation in this sector, which is most obvious with the emergence of Walmart as a major food retailer. Standard economic theory would confirm that the oligopolistic nature of the supermarket industry does lower the prices farmers can receive for their goods. The film demonstrates this economic theory with a specific example in Publix, one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S., headquartered in Florida. Publix is also the primary target of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) most recent campaign to increase the wage of tomato pickers by a penny per pound.

CIW has already waged campaigns against fast food companies using the same penny-per-pound strategy with great success. Publix, however, seems to be unflinching in its unwillingness to agree to the terms of the CIW campaign for completely unknown reasons. In the film, we see CIW organize a seven-day hunger strike at the Publix Headquarters in Lakeland, Florida, which is just a two-hour drive from Immokalee. Publix allows the strike to continue on its property with only the occasional police or private security intervention. Employees of the company come out to eat lunch on picnic benches just feet away from the strike.

The hunger strike quickly becomes the focus of the film, and as it progresses one cannot help but think about the broader debate currently stirring in the U.S. about the effectiveness of public protests. CIW is a seasoned organization that knows how to utilize protests as an effective tool for promoting social change; it may have employed the hunger strike seen in Food Chains to appeal to middle-aged consumers who remember the hunger strike led by United Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez in 1968. Food Chains captures a peaceful and organized protest taking place on the front lawn of Publix without much excitement or controversy. For the average American, seeing this type of protest may be refreshing and encouraging.

Food Chains should be commended for addressing such an important social justice issue occurring in the food system, and it is one that many food-focused documentaries have for some reason ignored until now. However, the film could have accomplished its job with a bit more depth on the broader policy issues that got us to this point in the first place. The dearth of economic safety nets provided for poor Americans, our completely outdated and dysfunctional immigration policy (including policies for migrant farm workers from Mexico), lack of oversight and enforcement of pesticide regulation, and racism and oppression are all broader societal issues that contribute to the struggles of U.S. farm workers. Yet these issues, especially immigration, are hardly mentioned in Food Chains.

In particular, immigration policy is a key factor in the plight of U.S. farm workers that is touched upon briefly in the film. It is striking to recognize that CIW focuses its campaigns on private companies because many of the workers they represent are undocumented immigrants, making policy advocacy to federal and state governments virtually impossible. The total powerlessness of people who pick our food should be unimaginable in America, yet the film never makes this argument strongly. Similarly, the film could have addressed the serious problem of how volatile food prices could potentially become given lack of government oversight of migrant labor. Food Chains may have avoided these more controversial topics in order to remain accessible and credible for a broad audience.

If the goal of Food Chains is to educate the completely uninformed U.S. food consumer, then it will have done yeoman’s work. But for those of us who are more informed on these issues, we are left wanting a more detailed and investigative story about how injustices like those faced by the Immokalee workers continue to occur. For us, the story of the modern day farm worker seems unthinkable. And we say to ourselves, “Really? It’s 2015.”

Join the Friedman Justice League for a screening of Food Chains followed by an expert panel discussion.  The event will be held on February 5 from 6:30-8:30 pm at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in ASEAN Auditorium (160 Packard Ave, Medford, MA). While admission is free, we are asking for a $5 donation to go toward the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Food Chain Workers Alliance. Tickets are available at http://foodchains-fjl.brownpapertickets.com.

Rebecca Boehm is a PhD Candidate in the Agriculture Food and Environment (AFE) program and a long-time member of the Friedman Justice League. Rebecca Rottapel is a first-year MS student in the AFE program. She is also a member of the Justice League and is excited to keep learning about mechanisms to improve social justice and equity in our food system!