New sustainable agriculture fellowships result in green jobs for fresh crop of campus food activists
Palo Alto, CA (August 18, 2009) -As a new crop of college graduates worries about finding that all-important first job, and students flock to internships in food and farming, Bon Appétit Management Company has established a program that brightens new graduates’ job prospects. The sustainable food service leader has created three new career-boosting paid fellowships for young campus activists involved in sustainable food and social justice. The new fellows will work directly with farmers around the country to assess overall sustainability, including labor practices in agricultural operations that supply the company’s 400 kitchens in 29 states.
The Bon Appétit fellows will gather information about best practices on both small, owner-operated farms and conventional large-scale farms that currently supply products to Bon Appétit kitchens. Fellows will evaluate farmworker labor conditions, farm biodiversity, and handling of farm waste. Their reporting will be used by the company to determine how it can work with its long-time Farm to Fork small-operator partners and larger conventional suppliers to ensure the entire supply chain is as safe, efficient, and fair to farmers and farmworkers as possible. Their work will deepen understanding and strengthen relationships between buyers and farmers, ultimately benefiting the nation’s food system.
Bon Appétit’s Farm to Fork partners are farms located within 150 miles of each specific restaurant where the food is served. Chefs in all 400 Bon Appétit restaurants work directly with Farm to Fork farms to meet the company’s commitment of sourcing at least 20% of all food items locally.
With 10 years of the Farm-to-Fork local sourcing program under the company’s belt, Bon Appétit is taking the next step to look at labor issues both in current small-farmer partners and larger operations. Following a move in April 2009 to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ quest for fairness in the Florida tomato fields, Bon Appétit realized the need to explore what the company’s role could be in facilitating fair labor practices throughout their entire supply chain. The fellows will provide an informational bridge that will plant the seeds for meaningful partnerships, helping farms of all sizes serve larger buyers more effectively while fulfilling Bon Appétit’s overall sustainability goals.
Says Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President, Bon Appétit Management Company, “Meaningful change at all points of the food system is our goal. The fellows program allows us to involve young people in a way that invests in both these deserving graduates and the farmers who have fed them throughout their college years. This work will result in a deeper understanding of the issues facing farmers and suppliers, and help us define a viable approach to farm worker justice as the final link in the chain of sustainability from farm to table.”
Working on the East Coast is fellow Carolina Fojo who graduated in May with honors from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Cultural Anthropology. Fojo has lived with indigenous Fair Trade coffee producers in Oaxaca, Mexico and interned with UN affiliated NGOs on Fair Trade and worker migration issues.
West Coast fellow Vera Chang is an honors graduate in Global Ethics from Carleton College. Vera is certified in permaculture design and is currently completing an apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Chang was also an intern with The California Food & Justice Coalition and Founder and President of Food Truth, a student organization at Carleton focusing on food issues.
Midwest fellow Dayna Burtness graduated with honors from St. Olaf College with an individual major in The Politics and Practices of US Agriculture. Burtness was co-founder of St. Olaf’s student- run farm, and served as an intern with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She went on to become a Program Associate for the institute’s Local Foods Program.
All fellows are hired for a period of one year with a possibility of renewal for a second term.
” Agriculture in the United States today faces real pressure to change for the better. As a recent college graduate, I see my Bon Appétit fellowship as a fascinating and critical opportunity for me to work on positive ways to improve our national food system. This is a terrific chance to bring together the best thinking in business with young graduates’ energy and commitment. I look forward to working towards a more socially responsible food system with Bon Appétit and partnering farms.” said Dayna Burtness, Midwest fellow.
In today’s economy, recent graduates face a tough climate for first-time employment. At the same time, challenges in the food system present an unprecedented opportunity for positive change. Landing a dream green job is a boost for these hardworking young people, giving them first-hand experience of the sweet spot between business and sustainability and providing a platform for career growth in the years to come.
About Bon Appétit
Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an onsite restaurant company offering full foodservice management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafés throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, and most recently, the connection between food and climate change. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 29 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania and the Getty Center.