Reflecting Back and Moving Forward

January 11, 2021

By Justina Robinson, Communications Assistant

As last year closed out, BFI could not help but reflect on all the food system accomplishments achieved and look forward to even more this upcoming year. BFI is passionate about ending inequity in our food system, and 2020 proved just how resilient our work can be. Although the challenges of the pandemic continue, we are taking charge and creating opportunities to advance food accessibility, education, and truly sustainable food production practices. Thanks for all of your support advancing this work in the year ahead. 

Food should be a source of comfort and relief, but not to the detriment of your health. Accessibility to healthy food options close to home is critical in times where grocery stores may not be the easiest option. Last fall, then-faculty director Kristine Madsen shared her latest research on soda tax revenues and their effect counteracting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which hurt our communities. She also shared her research on how investing revenue from these taxes can improve health outcomes and community resiliency during crises.

Professor Madsen’s presentation of her research online was just one example of how we’ve adapted our approach to events while in-person activities have paused. We also “hosted” nearly 100 guests for a discussion with policy leaders, such as Assemblymember Robert Rivas, and documentarians Andrés Cediel and Daffodil Altan, producers of the PBS film “COVID’S Hidden Toll.” Viewers saw firsthand the detrimental effects of the pandemic on food laborers and assessed policy options for improving conditions presently exposing farmworkers to higher-than-average levels of COVID infections. We also introduced a 2020 cohort of Graduate Research Fellows whose work encompassed the intersections of food, climate, and health. BFI’s food education work did not stop there, though, with two highly attended virtual career panels on how students can chart their own careers in food systems, whether in business or with nonprofits. Our next career panel on February 2 will celebrate our BFI Alumni, and admission is free to all registrants.

On top of everything else in 2020, there was an election, of course. BFI sought to engage more restaurant workers and delivery drivers in exercising their franchise through our #TakeoutTheVote campaign. We engaged restaurant staff in several states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida. We produced materials they could post in takeout windows, which directed those picking up takeout orders to a mobile-friendly site, permitting folks to register to vote or request an absentee ballot in two minutes or less.  

BFI thanks you for joining us on the ride that was 2020. We truly could not have done any of this work without your support. Please help continue this groundbreaking, impactful, and adjustable work in 2021 with your gift today.