Celebrating 10 Years of the Fellows Program: Alyse Festenstein

Alyse Festenstein
Fellow from June 2013 to May 2015, based in St. Louis

Bon Appétit campus attended: Washington University of St. Louis

Current job: I’m still with Bon Appétit, and just celebrated my 6th anniversary! After my time as a Fellow, I headed down to Atlanta to work with our team at Emory University, where I got my feet wet in the world of operations and purchasing. About two years ago, I joined Bon Appétit’s purchasing team and am now a sourcing specialist, managing our Farm to Fork program.

Skill/wisdom you gained from the Fellowship: I’m definitely an introvert, and the Fellowship role forced me (in a good way) to get out of my comfort zone, from classroom guest lectures to student field trips and meetings with our chefs and clients. I built the confidence and skills needed to collaborate with a wide range of audiences.

Did the Fellowship shape your career choices? It ignited my curiosity about the world of procurement. As a Fellow, I learned a lot about the creation of our companywide purchasing policies — and it left me wanting to know more about how they are implemented and maintained. That’s exactly what I work on now.

Then-Fellow Alyse Festenstein (left) with the team behind the Minnesota Farm Bike tour

Memorable experience as a Fellow: I helped to coordinate the second Northfield Farm Bike Tour, working with Carleton College and St. Olaf college students, chefs and managers, and a handful of nearby Farm to Fork partners. I was stepping into some big shoes because the event was initially created by previous Midwest Fellow Piper Fernwey. Even on a cold rainy day, the 20-mile bike tour drew more than a few hundred people! It showed me a community’s collective power to support their local farmers.

Advice for current food-activist students: Food systems issues can be complex and daunting. Don’t let that stop you from taking action. Plug in to the part you are most passionate about and just go from there — whether that’s supporting local agriculture, fighting for farmworker rights, or addressing food waste.

Read more Fellows 10th Anniversary interviews: