When I first signed up for Food For Thought, I did not know what I was getting myself into. I expected it would be just another lecture class, however it was not. I thought we would just be learning about food and all aspects associated with it. I never thought we would be working with different non-profit organizations and integrating what we learned in class with the real life experiences we were gaining. After taking the class, it has made me open my eyes about the society we live in and our food production system. I have gained knowledge in regards to food advocacy, food injustice, social media and blogging, as well as experience with working with a non-profit organization.
There were a lot of aspects of our food system that I did not know about and learned in class. After reading the various articles assigned, I got a better sense of how our food system works and the accessibility of food. Learning about the ingredients in commonly known products, the chemicals used to enhance products, and how those products are created have definitely made me change my eating habits. The food system is all about making money and not keeping us healthy. Products are processed in the cheapest ways, altered in order to entice customers whether it is good for one or not, and sold to have maximum shelf life
This blog post goes into more detail about how food is altered for the consumer. http://rampages.us/butterfieldh/2014/10/20/chapter-7-the-meal/
The accessibility of obtaining healthy and fresh foods is also an issue within our food system. There is a lack of resources in some areas than others. In class, we created infographs about food deserts in the Richmond community. This task allowed us to get creative while making something useful for the community. I never realized the extent of how disgusting our food industry is and the public needs to be better educated about it.
Below is one of the infographs I created about food deserts. This particular infograph is centered around the accessibility of food within Richmond. I used one of ReEstablish Richmond’s neighborhood communities to figure out the distance to the closet grocery store.
Throughout the semester, we focused heavily on the use of social media. We all created personal food blogs to share and reflect what we learned thought the course of the semester. I enjoyed writing my thoughts and posting what I thought about certain topics on my blog. It allowed me to be creative with very little restrictions. Also, we presented on different social media platforms, which helped everyone, gain knowledge on different forms of social media. We looked at how different platforms can be used to promote food advocacy. My partner and I completed our Points of Participation Project on Facebook. We highlighted the pros and cons of using the website and how non-profit organizations use it to get their message out. As of class, we had many discussions about social media and the importance of using it. Social media can be used to get anything promoted or announced and can be conveyed across a large audience. We all incorporated the use of social media platforms when working with our clients.
The link to my blog is my Point of Participation assignment on Facebook: http://rampages.us/butterfieldh/2014/10/02/facebook/
We had the choice to work with three different non-profit organizations promoting food advocacy, Ram Pantry, Peter Paul Developmental Center, and ReEstablish Richmond. I had the opportunity to work with four other individuals for an organization called ReEstablish Richmond. ReEstablish Richmond works to help refugees fleeing from other countries get established in the Richmond community. The organization provides various programs and services for the refugees such as nutrition classes, driving classes and bus navigation, housing, job preparation, and education classes.
In the beginning of the semester, we met with Kimberly, the director of ReEstablish Richmond, and she informed us our starting tasks. We would be helping with workshops for the refugees as well as interviewing the refugees and developing narratives based off of the discussions. Weeks passed and we were informed that the workshops would no longer be happening. We were all extremely frustrated and decided to brainstorm new ideas to present to the organization. However, Kimberly informed us of a fundraiser that would be coming up in the next couple weeks. We created different forms of advertisements and marketing materials in order to get the word out. We developed a Facebook event page, flyer, and handouts for the tables at the restaurant.
I was very apprehensive leading up to the Bakers Crust fundraiser. It was difficult for me to think we would have to promote and ask other people to support an organization that I had very little contact with. We never met any of the refugees nor did we even go to the office to see the operation in depth. Even if I did not have the opportunity to meet any of the refugees, I would of liked to see the office to get a better idea of the organization than from what we were just told. Even though I feel like my group did not contribute to the organization to our fullest capacity, I still think we finished strong and pushed through for the Bakers Crust fundraiser. The event was successful and the organization received over $300. Our hard work and preparation towards the event outshined all of the obstacles we faced throughout the semester.
The links below to my food blog go into more detail about my experiences with ReEstablish Richmond.
Client Meeting: http://rampages.us/butterfieldh/2014/09/09/our-1st-client-meeting/
Bakers Crust Fundraiser: http://rampages.us/butterfieldh/2014/11/13/november-12th-fundraiser/
We faced many challenges throughout the process of working with the organization. Time, monetary funds, lack of planning, and the lack of trust from our client were all issues we encountered as a group. Running into “road blocks” is only normal and likely to occur, especially when working with a client. Not everything happens as planned, however it is important to adjust in order to reach the ending result. My group did a great job of adapting to all of the changes we faced and it was an overall positive experience.