Celebrating 10 Years of the Fellows Program: An Introduction

In 2009 Bon Appétit Management Company began hiring young people for a unique fellowship program that has become part real-world food-systems education and part idea incubator.

“The Fellows program is one of the most important things we’ve ever done,” says Bon Appétit CEO and cofounder Fedele Bauccio, who created the program with Chief Strategy and Brand Officer Maisie Ganzler. “These young people are so smart and so passionate, they inspire everyone who comes into contact with them, including me.”

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Fellows program, Bon Appétit is giving away ten $1,000 grants to students on its campuses. Go to www.bamco.com/grants to apply

Bon Appétit looks for recent graduates who were sustainability champions on campuses served by the company’s food services. Their backgrounds enable them to be credible peer-to-peer educators about where a college dining hall’s food comes from and why that’s important.

Twenty-one Fellows to date have joined us as full-time employees, for stints of one to two years, to learn about what our vision for “food service for a sustainable future” truly means — and what goes into making it a reality. They then share that story in multiple ways.

In the past decade, Fellows have organized an estimated

  • 200 field trips to local farms, ranches, and other food producers
  • 140 kitchen tours
  • 500 classroom guest lectures and discussions, and much more,
  • reaching close to 70,000 people!

Read on for where the Fellows are now, what they learned, and what advice they’d give current food-activist students:

Carolina Fojo“You’ll burn yourself out if you try to fix everything that’s wrong with our food system. Instead, pick an issue (or two!) that you are particularly passionate about, and do those really well.”
Carolina Fojo, Fellow 2009-2012 »

Dayna Burtness“Spend at least a month (ideally a season!) working full time on a farm. It will shape you in ways you can’t imagine and give you a fuller picture of the struggles America’s family farmers face.”
Dayna Burtness, Fellow 2009-2011 »

“I became a confident speaker, panel facilitator, writer, and photographer. I’ve used these skills over the course of my career to investigate – and have a public voice on – hidden social and environmental problems.”
Vera Chang, Fellow 2009-2012 »

Piper fernwey“Ask questions, lots of them. I think in our current information age, we’re often overwhelmed, oversaturated, and we are quick to canonize or vilify, to place things into one of those two opposing categories of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ to make the world around us simpler. But the truth is, the world is much more complicated than that, and you’ll only learn a clearer version of the story if you ask questions and are open-minded enough to allow things to exist in the gray area in between.”
Piper Fernwey, Fellow 2011-2013 »

Nicole Tocco Cardwell“Read the fine print of every policy/commitment/claim by an organization, because the meaning and integrity is always in the details. If something isn’t specific, it usually doesn’t have much meaning. ”
Nicole Tocco Cardwell, Fellow 2012-2015 »

Claire Cummings on a farm“Always dig deeper. With so much of my work, I have been successful because I dug a little deeper, got a little more curious, and didn’t take things at face value.”
Claire Cummings, Fellow 2012-2013 »

“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.”
Alyse Festenstein, Fellow 2013-2015

“Be OK with getting uncomfortable and admitting when you don’t know something. Always ask yourself; who is being left out of this conversation.”
Sea Sloat, Fellow 2014-2016 »

Girl teaching kids to cook“I’ve always had a love for education, and Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen brought a lot of my favorite things together. I particularly enjoyed watching the focus and fascination with which many of the kids approached the meal preparation; it was dazzling to see them have little epiphanies and solve problems.”
Amanda Wareham, Fellow 2015-2017 »

“Don’t try to do things perfectly, work on starting somewhere, anywhere, and then building from there. Things will feel wildly imperfect and maybe even like failures, but every bit of change is progress.”
Autumn Rauchwerk, Fellow 2015-2016 »

“I’m grateful for the macroscopic understanding of food system issues I gained, and the big-picture perspective I bring to my current work.”
Caroline Ferguson, Fellow 2016-2018 »

“I appreciated seeing into so many different parts of our food chain — those experiences inform my reporting today.”
Claire Kelloway, Fellow 2016-2018 »

“I learned so much about farmworker rights, animal welfare, and various farming/fishing practices that have helped me be an informed consumer.”
Andrew Monbouquette, Fellow 2014-2015 »

“Form partnerships with different groups on campus, from food service to facilities. You never know where you might find allies for your cause!”
Maggie Kraft, Fellow 2016-2018 »

“Instead of getting bogged down by my own perspective, I try to understand all of the possible sides of the issue and find a way to have a discussion with everyone involved.”
Shira Kauffman, Fellow 2017-2019 »

“Fellows explain our Farm to Fork commitment all the time, and it’s sometimes easy to think about the commitment in an abstract way. [Open Hands] Owner Ben Doherty showed us around the farm, which has a long and extraordinarily deep connection to Bon Appétit. Ben made the abstract tangible to everyone in attendance.
Peter Todaro, Fellow 2017-2019 »

“Successful food activism demands a holistic understanding of food systems, which often requires working with people with different expertise.”
Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura, Fellow 2018-2019 »