“Food Week” at the University of Pennsylvania!



Last week was “Food Week: Eat to Live” at the University of Pennsylvania. The students at Penn truly stepped up to the plate, not only helping to coordinate one event, but 6!! It was truly a spectacular week, full of delicious food and passion for food issues.


Here’s how it all happened: In December I was connected with Professor Mary Summers, who teaches “Politics of Food”. Professor Summers, in turn, connected me with about 20 very determined student activists—most of them didn’t know each other, but all cared about different food issues. A few of them had been throwing around the idea of doing an entire week of Food issues at Penn, but nothing concrete had yet materialized. We did a giant conference call; I told them I’d be there the week of Feb 1—and Food Week was born!


The entire week was planned via e-mail (as Chef Joel likes to joke, he answered 2743 emails from students in these last two weeks!) and the result was an entire week about food, each day with a different theme. There were 7 major student groups involved, and about 21 students were involved in the planning process. In total there were 6 major events of the week:


Monday [2/1]: Farmworker Rights: What do Tomatoes Have to do with Slavery?

Tuesday [2/2]: Sustainability and the Philadelphia Foodshed

Wednesday [2/3]: Mind the Food Gap

Thursday [2/4]: Food and You: Health and Nutrition

Thursday [2/4]: How to Prepare Health Food: A Kitchen Tour of Bon Appétit

Friday [2/5]: “Food Inc.: Hungry for Change” film screening


(To see more complete descriptions of each event, please visit https://sites.google.com/site/foodweekpenn/home)



Bon Appétit catered every single event, placing a special emphasis on local foods and other “sustainable” options.

Joel Blice and Scott Myers deserve MAJOR KUDOS for working so closely with the students, handling last minute requests, serving delicious food and smiling the entire time. Jenn DaCosta was crucial in the marketing department; Paul Bulau participated as a panelist in the Tuesday night sustainability panel; Terri Brownlee and Lydia Kumpa were the “main event” in Thursday night’s cooking demonstration and kitchen tour.


Others who showed me around and helped out at the events include (and I’m sorry I don’t know everyone’s name): Theresa Varvir, Chef Donald, Chef Eric, Amy (from catering), Angela (from catering), as well as many, many others in the kitchen/set up process.


Non-Bon Appétit folks who were instrumental in the process include: Mary Summers, Laurie Cousart and Barbara Lee-Kruger.


And last but certainly not least, there were the students who made it all happen:  Ingrid Lindquist, Sandra Zhao, Carolyna De Laurentiis, Ori Pleban, Maura Goldstein, Caroline Murray, Sarah Ladley and Danny Lafuente. In addition to their busy class schedules, they answered hundreds of emails and made a phenomenal week happen. It was truly an inspiring group of individuals, and Penn should consider itself lucky to have them on its campus.



…In closing, I’ll share with you all one of my favorite moments from the week: I was saying goodbye to one of the student coordinators, and she said, “Hey, by the way, thank you for everything. We really could not have pulled this week off without Bon Appétit. I hope you know that.” (It made me smile :0)