Author Archives: sheaffkc

Final Reflective Essay

With the beginning of any project, class, or new opportunity I always go into things with some kind of expectations. The reality of is never what I expected it to be, but there is usually something new to be learned and take away from the experience. This semester in UNIV 215: Food for Thought, I have taken away lessons and knowledge I would never have expected to including food injustices, food insecurity within my own community, and the highs and lows non-profits promoting food advocacy face firsthand. With help from in class activities, readings and lectures, and working with our non-profit organizations these concepts have enabled me to open my mind to new possibilities with food and have inspired me to apply what I learned to everyday life.


The array of disturbing articles we have read this semester has been overwhelming. It has become apparent to me that our food system has so many injustices and problems with it, I honestly don’t know if our society’s future looks so bright. In Michael Pollan’s article ‘Our National Eating Disorder’ the author discusses the main problems with American food fads. Pollan out lies how the power of the way we have learned to see food impacts our country’s health. Americans have an obsession with eating healthy, yet we have one of the unhealthiest diets compared to other countries. 3 of every 5 Americans are overweight and 1 of every 5 Americans is obese. The psychological component that comes with how we see food will not be easy to adjust because of the way our minds have adapted to crave certain unhealthy foods, but it’s a start in improving our country’s health. Initially I wasn’t that familiar with the industrialization food system and exactly how the food we eat is made. I appreciated when our class was assigned video lectures to listen to and critically think about to be more knowledgeable about what we discussed in class. A range of issues were introduced and were shocking to me including, industrialization’s effect on the depletion of our planet’s organic matter, the amount of antibiotics and synthetic hormones we feed food animals, and the arsenical drugs used for growth promotion that have numerous negative health affects when consuming the food that they’re in. It was interesting to me to learn that all of these toxic efforts are to make our food “better”, chickens more plump, or faster to produce, yet we are killing ourselves in the process. The problems with our food system don’t en there. These reading analyses go more in depth on the things the articles went over and what I have learned:

Lake Erie algal blooms, August 2011

 It took taking this course to become aware of the reality that food insecurity is very prevalent in my own community. Working with the non-profit organizations, ReEstablish Richmond, Peter Paul, and the VCU Ram Pantry really opened our eyes and allowed us to work hands on with food issues people of the Richmond community face everyday. I worked mainly with ReEstablish Richmond which helps refugees forced to flee from their home countries, resettle here in Richmond and adapt to a new and better life. These refugees are thrown into a new place with unfamiliar food sources. Language barriers, travel limitations, and high food prices are all a combination of factors that enhance food insecurity for them. Although I didn’t work directly with the Ram Pantry I felt I could identify with the client base our class was working with. People who visit the Ram Pantry are college students just like me who struggle to have enough money and time to grocery shop for food. It’s meaningful to me to know that the school I go to actually cares for their students’ well beings and have set up a system to make food insecurity for these students a little less difficult. Peter Paul Developmental Center was another organization students from our class worked with. This non-profit focused on teaching children of the Richmond community about nutrition and ways to live healthy lifestyles. Food insecurity is prevalent in Richmond households due to low income and not having access to food education. Hearing the experiences from students who worked with Peter Paul had and seeing the struggles families face everyday with not having enough food, saddened me and made me grateful for the opportunities I have available to me. These blog posts from my food blog elaborate more on the information I have learned about food insecurity:


Being able to work with non-profit organizations one on one has proved to be quite an experience with many ups and downs along the way. The non-profit my group and I chose to work directly with was ReEstablish Richmond and the director of the company, Kimberly Compton. Food advocacy within the organization was mainly geared towards having the refugees become familiar with foods that are available to them now that they have resettled in Richmond. Many of the refugees don’t speak the English language and it is hard for them travel such distances to a grocery store to be able to get food. ReEstablish Richmond helps refugees by teaching them the bus routes to food sources and ways to have access to healthy food option. The organization is a young non-profit, only have started in 2010, and they still experience many setbacks that my group experienced firsthand. Early on in the semester we had planned to participate in nutrition workshops for the refugees but were sadly disappointed to find out that the grants for the workshops fell through. We learned that this is common with many non-profits because things don’t always go according to plan because limited capital is an issue. It was sad to me to think here we were ready to make a difference within the lives and health of people in the community, but a major obstacle was holding us back. My group didn’t accomplish everything we set out to do with ReEstablish Richmond we were proud of ourselves for having this experience together and staying positive to make a difference.











Make #9 – Uncharacteristic Photography

I’ve recently become obsessed with pomegranates! I eat them when I need a little something sweet or just a snack throughout the day. I had only seen the inside of a pomegranate just this year. It is truly a beautiful fruit. The seeds look like little gems filling the hive which is the fruit. I thought it would be the perfect food item to take pictures of. I tried to get some different angles as well close ups!






Make #6 – Re-Imagined Recipe Video

We re-imagined our recipe video to be more informative the second time around! Our first attempt at making a recipe video lacked originality and keys steps in making the dish. In our new video we took a new recipe, which was more useful as a meal idea, and broke it down into more involved steps so that our audience could clearly understand how to make the dish. The editing took a little longer, but the final product and delious dish was worth it!

Make #8 – Nonprofit Interview

I interviewed Haley, another student in our class, who had the opportunity to volunteer and work with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond this semester. She and her team held several fundraisers for the nonprofit including bracelet sales, raffles, etc. After hearing about her experience, it’s clear that working with a nonprofit is not only beneficial for the organization but it benefits the experiences you have throughout your life, as well on your outlook on things all around you!

MAKE #11 – 5 Food “Untruths”

#1 Frozen veggies are less nutritious – Flash frozen vegetables, including those found in many frozen meals, may actually be more nutritious than some fresh vegetables. The moment a fruit or vegetable is picked from the farm, it begins to lose nutrients. Because food travels long distances from farm to table in today’s global economy, the “fresh” foods at your supermarket can be several days or weeks old. Most frozen vegetables are flash frozen so quickly after picking that they retain most of their health-enhancing nutrients. They can be more economical, too! Untitled


#2 Salads are the best choice when eating out and you want to eat healthy – Salads can run the gamut of healthiness, depending on what is in them. Although that big bowl of greens may be packed full of antioxidants and fiber, it can also be laden with fat, cholesterol, and sodium–not to mention an overabundance of calories. Some restaurant salads can even contain more calories than a cheeseburger! That means ordering salad is no guarantee that you’re eating a healthy meal. Do your research before you order and use these salad tips to make the best choice.


#3 It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you eat, as long as you don’t overeat – There is truth in the benefit of slowing down and appreciating the world around you, food included. Focusing on every bite can help you practice mindful eating, which has been shown to cut down on calorie intake. Slowing down between bites allows you to recognize your feelings of hunger and satiety so you have a chance to realize when you’ve had enough—then stop before you clean your plate and later regret it. Eating at a relaxed pace also means you’ll chew your food more thoroughly, thus experiencing fewer digestive issues and less intestinal upset. This may take some practice. The hustle and bustle of daily life often catches up with us and sometimes it takes a conscious effort to take it easy and give your brain a chance to enjoy the food and tell you when you’re full. Un2titled

#4 Bananas are high in sugar and cause weight gain – One medium banana (approximately 7 inches long) provides 0 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 105 calories, and 27 grams of carbs–it’s cheaper and more nutritious than most 100-calorie snack packs. Those specs mean that bananas make great snacks, even for people with diabetes who need to follow carbohydrate-controlled diets. Why bananas are being called “fattening” or high in sugar compared with other fruits is a mystery. They do have a few more grams of carbohydrate than apples and oranges, but that does not mean they should be off limits!



#5 It doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you don’t have too many calories – Calories are important for weight management, but you should also focus on the quality of the foods your calories are coming from. There is a huge difference between eating 400 calories of chocolate for lunch and enjoying a 400-calorie salad loaded with leafy greens, beans, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers. For one, the salad will fill you up longer and help you reach your daily quota for protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and health-enhancing phytochemicals. Chocolate, on the other hand, will leave you hungry (and undernourished) for the same number of calories. If you eat too many high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, you’re more likely to overeat and less likely to meet your body’s nutritional needs. This increases your risk of lifestyle diseases related to diet, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis.



Make #6 – Reimagined Info Graph

This time around I re-imagined my info graph to be something the refugees from ReEstablish Richmond could use while actually at the grocery store. Some of them are unfamiliar with fruits and vegetables here in America and especially which ones are in season on this side of the world! It would be helpful for them to see visual images of the fruits and vegetables in case of any language barriers. ReEstablish Richmond could put one of these info graphs every season when produce availably changes!!


Make #7 – Flyers & Social Media

We completed this make when our group participated in the Baker’s Crust fundraising event for ReEstablish Richmond. We made flyers, table handouts with information about the organization, a Facebook event with extra social media advertisements to entice people to go to the event. It was a collaborative effort by our group to get everything done before the baker’s crust event, and the night ended up being a huge success!

We felt the social media played big part in the fundraiser’s success and the turn out was all due to our efforts. Getting the word out to people is important if you want your cause to be heard. Even the media at the event such as the handouts and socially interacting with the customers helped the organization gain exposure. The connections we made over social media and through literature turned out to be a very powerful strategy!


RR Event Flyer


Handout (front and back)





You Can Help!-2


Facebook Page

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.16.59 PM

Facebook Cover Photo

RR Event Cover Photo

About three days before the event Haley and I posted the flyers around Carytown and the VCU campus to get the word out!










Make #10 – Photo Montage

ReEstablish Richmond Collage

These are photos provided by Kimberly of pictures taken within the ReEstablish Richmond Organization. Pictures are from events they’ve had in the past, in the garden, working with refugees, etc. We thought these were great photos to use in a collage to visually show what the organization does and how it impacts the Richmond community!

It would have been nice to make a collage of the things we have done with ReEstablish Richmond, but unfortunately we were unable to really do anything worth documenting for a montage. We thought these photos did a better job of representing the organization.

Make #5 – Food Activity for Kids

Apple Tasting 


  • Apples (4 different types)
  • Knife
  • Plates

Estimated Time: 10-15 minutes

Step 1: pick up 4 different types of apples from the store. Apples are inexpensive and a healthy food to work with! Examples to use: Red Delicious, Fugi, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious.

Step 2: slice and separate the different types of apples.

Step 3: Have the kids taste each one.

Step 4: Talk about the differences (and similarity of each apple). Try and have the kids use descriptive words.Talk about texture, color, and taste. Use the name of the apple over and over so the kids become familiar with matching the name of the app with its taste.