Food Studies

Kara Danziger, ’18, Food Studies Major

Kara Danziger poses beside her research poster on SU Food Services

An Interview with Kara Danziger, ’18

What is your Food Studies focus area and what about it interests you?
I am interested in the corporate/ hospitality side of food studies. I love the different routes that one can take within this major and though I personally have led it more towards a marketing and sales direction there is room for students to do otherwise.

Where did you complete your internship and what did it entail?
I interned with Syracuse University’s Food Service team as a Marketing Intern. My role here was to drive student traffic to the social media pages, and to work one-on-one with students getting a feel of their wants and needs. I also focused a ton on photographing food available on campus in the dining halls/ cafes to show students what is accessible to them and draw them towards on campus dining experiences. I was there to show students all of the options available and survey them for feedback as well.

Tell us about a challenge you faced in your internship and how you got through it.
The most challenging part of my internship was figuring out the right time and place to post content. For example, over Thanksgiving break or finals we were sure students were not checking their social media accounts as regularly so we had to find the right time to post our pictures so that they were sure to be seen.

How did this internship prepare you to work in the broad field of Food Studies?
This internship has for sure pointed me in the right direction upon graduation. It solidified my interests and showed me that this is where I see myself down the road and in the near future. I learned ways to market products or events and how social media is key in the marketing world nowadays.

What are you up to now?
I am thankfully continuing on with my position for next semester and plan on working around 10 hours a week on a project with my wonderful boss. I look forward to continuing my work with Food Service until I graduate in May!

Anything else you’d like to add?
I am extremely thankful for this opportunity. It has led me to learn so much and prepare me for the “real world.” I know now, there won’t be as many rude awakenings, I feel am ready to go!

Briana Alfaro, ’18 (May), MS Food Studies

Briana Alfaro holds a fresh apple in an orchard

An Interview with Briana Alfaro, ’18

Where did you complete your internship and what did it entail?
I completed my internship at the San Diego Food System Alliance, where I was the “Summer Intern.” I collected narratives on accessing public land for the Urban Agriculture Working Group, created an assessment tool to determine whether a restaurant is “healthy” from a food systems perspective, helped to plan a Farm Bill Forum for local stakeholders, and undertook grant research.

What did you enjoy most about your experience?
I enjoyed working for a small organization in which I was able to “wear many hats” and work one-on-one with the Director. Though the paid staff is small, the Alliance comprises dozens of volunteer stakeholders that participate in the success of its initiatives. I enjoyed having access to a diverse set of experts–from dietitians to county employees to citizen activists–to help guide my work. I also greatly enjoyed planning the Farm Bill Forum.

How did this internship prepare you to work in the broad field of Food Studies?
This internship both gave me exposure to collaborative, volunteer-based work. Collaborative work is incremental and challenging, but ultimately rich and rewarding. I learned to be patient, ask questions, to think outside the box, and above all else, to be flexible. Though I came to the Alliance with a critical academic background, it was humbling to understand what is accomplishable, in practice, while working with a broad array of stakeholders.

What’s next for you?
I hope to start a position with the Alliance. The organization is currently working on growing their capacity for advocacy and community engagement, with a few new positions. I hope to be a part of this growth. If that doesn’t work out, I look forward to a research, advocacy and/or community engagement position with another nonprofit.

Any words of wisdom you’d like to add?
Choosing an organization or institution with which to devote your practicum experience can be challenging. I debated the merits in working with a large, established institution or a small organization, like the Alliance. Ultimately, since I wanted to get experience doing more than one activity and wanted to understand how the organization was administered, I found a small organization to be the right fit for my professional goals. I was able to attend whichever meetings I wanted to, take on projects that fit with my scholarly interests and also work side-by-side with the Director. I recommend evaluating your goals when choosing an organization, but also trusting that all experience is good experience. Even if you learn what you don’t like to do, that is still valuable!

ACE Center’s innovative design receives honor from AIA

Ashley McGraw Architects honored by American Institute of Architects for innovative design of Falk College’s Nutrition ACE Center, Klenk Café and Teaching Kitchens

The American Institute of Architects Central New York Chapter (AIA CNY) honored Falk College, its Department of Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition, and its architects, Ashley McGraw Architects, D.P.C. The group’s work in Falk Complex was cited for innovative ideas, attention to detail, and dedication to the design profession as contributing to the architectural success of the Central New York region and beyond. The award was presented at the AIA Central New York’s annual Celebration of Architecture at the Hotel Syracuse. AIA CNY recognizes outstanding works of architecture through its annual design awards program. The purpose of the program is to celebrate achievements in design excellence by architects in the Central New York region and to honor the architects, clients and consultants who work together to create and enhance the environment that was built.

“We are very proud of our partners and colleagues from Ashley McGraw for this award. We could not be more pleased with the design and the excellent learning opportunities their innovative design continues to provide our students in our food, nutrition and public health programs,” says Falk College Dean, Diane Lyden Murphy.

The Susan R. Klenk Learning Café and Kitchens opened in September 2016 and provides a hands-on learning laboratory to prepare students with traditional and emerging professional competencies for careers in food, nutrition, dietetics, and public health. The facility includes an experimental food lab kitchen, commercial kitchen, baking nook and café. A video camera system allows faculty and chef instructors to broadcast classes, food demonstrations and seminars from Falk College to anywhere on campus and across the country. A generous and visionary gift from Falk College alumna, Susan R. Klenk, made the learning café and kitchens possible.

The experimental food lab includes an 8 station-teaching kitchen and an associated café. Lunch is served in the café during the last four weeks of each semester, allowing hands-on experience for the students at every stage of food planning, preparation and service.

“Not only was it a rewarding experience working with the College to design these important spaces, but it has been gratifying to witness students taking ownership of them,” says Christina Aßmann, project architect, Ashley McGraw Architects, D.P.C.

The ACE Center’s demonstration kitchen features an island-cooking suite at the front of a 50-seat lecture hall. Cameras capture the activity of cooking from every angle, images are projected on 3 large TV screens above the counter, giving the audience multiple perspectives of the activity at hand and providing the possibility of recording or broadcasting.

The learning café and teaching kitchens set the stage for industry-leading, forward-thinking approaches to food and culture, nutrition, research, and food studies development. The design fosters creativity and collaboration across a variety of departments, schools and colleges, creating interdisciplinary partnerships that support teaching innovation, student learning, research and scholarship. In addition to unlimited faculty-supervised hands-on experiences, this dedicated space provides an ideal environment for student-faculty research projects and educational community partnerships that set the SU programs apart.

Syracuse Symposium to Present Multicultural Celebration Dec. 2

Elissa Johnson Portrait
Elissa Johnson
Program will celebrate food, music, dance of locally resettled refugees
By Rob Enslin

Syracuse Symposium continues its yearlong theme of “Belonging” with a celebration of multicultural food, music and dance.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Syracuse students, along with locally resettled refugees and immigrants, will present “Music and Food in Multicultural Syracuse: Performing New American Traditions” from 6-8:30 p.m. in Falk College.

Free and open to the public, the event is a collaboration among the Department of Art and Music Histories in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S); the Food Studies Program in Falk College; and With Love, a teaching restaurant and business incubator on Syracuse’s North Side, operated by Onondaga Community College.

Co-organizer Sydney Hutchinson says the program will highlight an eclectic mix of music and dance traditions, followed by a cuisine reception.

“Our students have spent the entire semester interviewing refugee musicians, artists and chefs, documenting their unique traditions,” says Hutchinson, associate professor of music history and cultures in A&S. “Special emphasis has been on Burma, [a sovereign state in Southeast Asia], which also is the culinary theme of With Love.”

The evening will begin with a program of music and dance from 6-7:30 p.m. in Grant Auditorium. Performers include Burundian dancer Beatrice Muradi, Karen and Matupi Chin dancers of Burma, Congolese musicians Immaculee Kandathe and Olivier Byinshi, Syrian oudist Ahmad Alkhlef and dabke dancers from the Saint Elias Orthodox Christian Church in Syracuse.

A reception will follow in Wildhack Lounge, featuring hors d’oeuvres from Burma and a slideshow of images documenting student work from throughout the semester.

Hutchinson says the decision to focus on Burma was “easy,” since the country accounts for more than a quarter of all resettled refugees in Central New York. “Burma is home to many different ethnic groups who speak a multitude of languages, and engage in markedly different music, dance and religious traditions,” she explains.

According to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Onondaga County has received more than 9,500 refugees since 2007, the greatest number of whom are from Burma.

Slightly smaller than Texas, Burma borders India and Bangladesh to the west, Thailand and Laos to the east and China to the north.

One of the highlights of the semester has been a cooking lab with Nancy Aye, a Burmese chef at With Love, who has helped students prepare food for the reception.

Hutchinson and co-organizer Elissa Johnson credit Adam Sudmann, With Love’s program manager, for facilitating such experiences. “The beneficiaries are not only students, but also refugees, immigrants and low-income citizens,” Hutchinson says.

“Our students have been able to explore Burma’s cultural foodways, as well as its political and social histories,” says Johnson, who teaches “Food, Identity and Power” (FST 204) in Falk. “For many, it has been an eye-opening experience, absorbing Burmese traditions and learning about some of the issues that refugees and immigrants face in Central New York.”

In addition to Burma, students have spent the semester learning about the food and cultures of other countries, including Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Puerto Rico.

“This project is an excellent opportunity to draw connections between performances—in the traditional sense, through dance and music—and through the performance of cultural foodways,” says Johnson, also a Falk internship placement coordinator. “We don’t always acknowledge food and cooking as a cultural art form that it is, and this collaboration certainly highlights all three.”

In October, Hutchinson’s students presented refugee music traditions and documented traditional food cultures at the 2017 Convening of the Welcoming Economies Global Network in Syracuse. “It was a special opportunity to collaborate with an organization dedicated to promoting the contributions of immigrant-entrepreneurs in Rust Belt cities,” she says.

Organized and presented by the Humanities Center, Syracuse Symposium is a public humanities series that revolves around an annual theme. Programs include lectures, workshops, performances, exhibits, films and readings. Located in the Tolley Humanities Building, the Humanities Center serves the campus community by cultivating diverse forms of scholarship, sponsoring a broad range of programming and partnerships and addressing enduring questions and pressing social issues.

Mary Kiernan Inducted into American Academy of Chefs

Mary Kiernan portrait
Associate Teaching Professor Mary Kiernan

In July, Associate Teaching Professor Mary Kiernan was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs (AAC), the honor society of the American Culinary Foundation (ACF). The ACF was established in 1929. Today, the professional chefs’ organization boasts 17,500 members and more than 150 chapters throughout the U.S. See the full list of 2017 AAC inductees online.

“It is the highest honor for me to be recognized by my colleagues in the culinary world,” says Chef Kiernan. “We all work hard to elevate the profession of the chef. To be able to stand side-by-side with this esteemed group of chefs, who continuously promote scholarship so that others may choose this path, is by far my greatest achievement.”

Prior to her current role as Associate Teaching Professor in the Falk College Department of Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition, Chef Kiernan held other roles within Syracuse University. She first came to SU in 2000 to work in Carrier Dome Catering where she managed 42 private suites and numerous other functions related to games and floor dinners. She became an instructor in Hospitality Management in 2007 and received her IMBA at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management in 2012. She also holds a bachelor of science in hospitality management from Florida International University in Miami.

Food studies alumnus says there’s more to food than what’s on your plate

Collin Townsend portrait
Collin Townsend ‘17 in the Susan R. Klenk Learning Café and Kitchens.

A hectic newsroom isn’t exactly where one would expect to come across food studies students, but that’s just where you’ll find them at the LongHouse Food Scholars Program in Upstate New York. The two-week residential program describes itself as a “food media boot camp” that provides hands-on training in writing and multimedia, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities for aspiring food journalists, activists, academics and entrepreneurs. Food studies alumnus Collin Townsend ‘17 says the LongHouse Food Scholars Program gave him a broad range of learning experiences, as well as valuable connections he still corresponds with.

Townsend graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2011 and worked in New York City as a professional chef before moving to Syracuse in 2014 to open his own restaurant. Still, Townsend felt something was missing. He decided to pursue higher education, and was drawn to the food studies program at Syracuse University.

Syracuse University’s Falk College takes a unique approach to food studies. With a specific focus on food as a system, the program incorporates topics such as food production, governance, sustainability, and security. “Food is such a complex issue, with dynamic ties to one’s culture, family, and status within society,” says Townsend. “Every aspect of human society, one way or another, is impacted by food. If you find yourself wondering why there are gender disparities, you can look at food. If you question why there are different classes within society, food can shine a light on the subject. If you have ever just looked down at your plate and thought, ‘Who the heck grew this?’ food studies can help explain it.”

Through his coursework, Townsend says he has been exposed to a number of fascinating topics. For him, the most interesting has been food sovereignty. “Empowering people and communities to have total control over their food in every shape and form from seed to plate is a truly remarkable theory that I have found to be a righteous cause to advocate for.”

One of today’s most pressing global issues, Townsend believes, is the consolidation of food production. “Consolidation within the agriculture, processing, production, and marketing sectors has put enormous power into a very small number of corporations’ hands,” he explains. “While this has made food more readily available than ever before in human history, it has also created a scary dynamic in which most humans are completely removed from what they put in their body.”

Townsend says that the mentorship of his professors in food studies has inspired him to continue his education and become a professor. “A large number of people view food more as an inconvenient necessity, rather than something that makes us uniquely human,” says Townsend. As a professor, Townsend hopes to share his passion for food with his future students.

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Dean Diane Lyden Murphy, along with the faculty and staff of Falk College, congratulates the Class of 2017! We are excited to see where your careers take you. Remember that you are “forever orange” and will always be a part of Falk College and Syracuse University.

We invite you to stay in touch and connect through social media, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As alumni, you will now receive FalkTalk, Falk College’s email newsletter for alumni, parents and friends. FalkTalk keeps you up-to-date with news headlines, student highlights, and upcoming events delivered to your inbox at the end of each semester.

Learn how to stay connected to the ‘Cuse Community in regions all around the world

Answer these quick questions on how to reach you after graduation

We have many photos to share that recap some of the celebration events of this past week:

Check out more photos of commencement weekend on Collage or at #SUGrad17.

Baked Magazine’s “Veg Out” highlights BrainFeeders student organization

SU student on the Quad with bike
Photo by Lena Oliver ’19. Courtesy of Baked Magazine.

Veg Out: By connecting students with local farmers, BrainFeeders makes it easy to get your daily serving of greens

By Megan Falk ’19. Courtesy of Baked Magazine

As the sun rises over the boundless field, drops of dew shimmer atop rows of lettuce, tomatoes, and radishes. A farmer swiftly harvests the vegetables one by one and gently places them in boxes with red and green type. Within an hour, the packages are en route to 13 different locations throughout Central New York, including Syracuse University. As they arrive, a young woman rides across the SU campus on her vintage blue bicycle and picks up her small box of vegetables from the farm, as she does every week. She piles the generous amounts of potatoes, kale, fennel, leeks, and delicata squash into her wire basket and pedals off with enough vegetables to last her the next seven days. Throughout the next two hours, 37 additional Syracuse University students and faculty will arrive to gather their share of produce.

Each Thursday, Common Thread Farm, located in Madison, New York, delivers local, organic produce to the University for members of a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, members of a CSA program pledge to contribute to the anticipated costs of running a farm and the farmer’s salary for the growing season, which provides a sense of financial security for the farmer. In return, members receive shares of the farm’s produce, but they run the risk of receiving poor harvest due to detrimental weather or pests.

The CSA program at Syracuse University is the product of the SU organization BrainFeeders.

In the spring of 2015, then-seniors Lindsay DeMay and Imelda Rodriguez created BrainFeeders after they realized the only way for students and faculty to buy fresh produce on campus was by taking the bus to the Central New York Regional Market. The duo then decided to partner with Common Thread and begin their own CSA pickup location at SU, which they launched in the fall of 2015. The program now boasts 40 members.

“When you hand people veggies, they go nuts,” says President Will Cecio. “They love it. This club is actually starting to make an impact on campus, trying to get people to cook more, eat healthy, eat more local and seasonal vegetables.” Throughout the nine-week program, members receive a box full of various seasonal vegetables. They choose between small boxes, which contain four to five types of vegetables and cost $150 for the nine weeks, and large boxes, holding eight to 10 kinds of vegetables for a price of $280. Felice Ramallo, secretary of BrainFeeders, says that although the prices seem steep, members may get five of each type of vegetable, which ends up being a bargain. “If you were to go to the grocery store and get this many veggies, it would be like, 50 bucks for a small box because these are organic,” she says. “In fact, this is probably less than if you were getting non-organic as well.”

Though Common Thread is not USDA certified as organic, it is recognized as organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. Cecio explains that becoming USDA certified is often an extra expense to the farmers. Individuals who visit the farm can see they practice organic and sustainable techniques, such as using compost fertilizers or natural pesticides, he says. Besides providing fresh, naturally-grown vegetables to students, the boxes introduce the program’s members to new food and allow them to expand their cooking savvy. Participants may learn to cook healthy and tasty alternatives to classic dishes, or get creative with their ingredients—pumpkin pancakes, anyone?

“We want to increase people’s awareness in general of what they’re putting into their bodies,” says Ramallo. “Not just their health, but where it’s coming from, and who it’s impacting other than themselves.”

Food Studies presents Out Here film screening March 28

Together with a number of Syracuse University programs, Falk College’s Food Studies program presents a screening of Out Here, a documentary film about the hearts and hard work of queer farmers in the U.S., followed by a Q&A session with the filmmaker, Jonah Mossberg, Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in Heroy Auditorium from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public.

Created by the Queer Farmer Film Project, the full-length documentary film illuminates the lives of queer farmers in the U.S. “Food Studies is excited to host Jonah Mossberg and his film Out Here,” says Elissa Johnson, Food Studies internship coordinator. “Although Out Here focuses on gender and sexual identity, this project ultimately highlights the intersectional identities of farmers in the U.S., and examines the important connections between food, identity, and community.”

“As a rapidly emerging field of study, Falk College’s Food Studies program explores food and its vital influence on culture, public health, the environment, and beyond,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of Falk College. “Together with a number of Syracuse University groups, Falk College Food Studies is pleased to present a screening of Out Here, which brings awareness to and understanding of the lives of the United States’ queer farmers.”

This documentary film screening is presented by Falk College’s Food Studies program; Maxwell School’s Department of Sociology and Department of Anthropology; the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies program; the Syracuse University Humanities Center; and Brain Feeders, a student organization in Falk College’s Food Studies program.

Food studies’ Dr. Minkoff-Zern on immigrant labor and American food systems

Food studies assistant professor Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Ph.D., comments on issues of immigrant labor and American food systems in light of the nation’s recent and potential policy changes in “What Would America’s Food Supply Look Like Without Immigrant Labor?”

In the Munchies article, Dr. Minkoff-Zern explains, “We are dependent upon undocumented immigrants and we have been for a long time, so there’s this real contradictory nature where on the one hand people want to see them gone, and on the other they want food cheap. Our food system, where we really have access to a lot of cheap food, is dependent upon low-wage labor, and that is dependent upon a source of undocumented workers who don’t have the ability to help themselves.”

Dr. Minkoff-Zern’s research and teaching broadly explores the interactions between food and racial justice, labor movements, and transnational environmental and agricultural policy. This focus builds on her extensive experience with sustainable development and agricultural biodiversity projects abroad, combined with work on migrant health issues domestically.

Read the full article