2021 BFI Food Justice Writing Contest

The concept of food justice argues that a history of structural gender and class inequities, and racially motivated policies have excluded marginalized communities from easy access to healthy foods, as described by Kirsten Cadieux and Rachel Slocum in “What does it mean to do food justice?” The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these issues, exposing the severe social inequality in our nation. In light of this, in Spring 2021 the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) hosted a writing contest to amplify the voices of the UC Berkeley student community on the topic of the intersections of food justice and COVID-19. 

Winning Submissions

Congratulations to our winners!

  1. First Prize: Hannah Frances Johansson: Eating our campus: Foraging in the face of the coronavirus
  2. Second Prize: Casey Dai: Eating is Believing: Exploring the Boundaries and Duality of Cultural Assimilation with Li-Young Lee
  3. Finalist: Yvonne Liu: From Dumplings to Chicken Nuggets


  1. First Prize: Cameron Nielsen: Urban Farmers in Richmond
  2. Second Prize:  Benjamin Fields: Mon Nouritture, Soul Food

Thank you to our contest judges:

  • Susan Schweik, Professor, English
  • Mark Schapiro, Lecturer, Graduate School of Journalism
  • Kevin Tuok, BFI UC Global Food Initiative Undergraduate Fellow
  • Malia Wollan, Lecturer, Graduate School of Journalism

Contest Details

The submission deadline is March 31, 2021, 5pm Pacific Time. At the end of the contest, all valid submissions will be collected on the BFI website for public viewing. If you choose, BFI will also support winning students in trying to place their pieces in off-campus publications, as well as those on campus, such as the Daily Cal and The Leaflet.

Submissions Categories

  • For personal narratives, please write about what the topic of food justice means to you, how COVID-19 has impacted your daily life, and/or your ability to secure healthy food. 
  • For reported articles, please write about what food systems issues COVID-19 has exposed or exacerbated in your community. These should include interviews and data as relevant. 

These prompts are provided as a guideline and starting point. Feel free to expand beyond these prompts as desired.

Submission Rules

This contest is open to currently matriculated UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students. Entry is free. All writing pieces should be between 750–2,000 words in length. However, keep in mind that publishing guidelines usually limit submissions to under 1000 words, in case efforts at external publication are desired. 

Please submit pieces through this Google Form Link, and ensure your piece is in .docx format.

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2021, 5pm Pacific Time

Judging and Prizes

Submissions will be judged by a panel of UC Berkeley faculty, student editors from UC Berkeley publications, and BFI staff. There will be separate prize pools and judging tiers for undergraduate- and graduate-level students. For both tiers, first and second prize winners will be awarded $100 and $50 respectively. Four additional finalists in each tier will also receive a $25 prize, for a total of 12 awards. 


For writing inspiration, please check out this collection of food justice stories hosted by Civil Eats. 


Please reach out to Kevin Tuok at ktuok@berkeley.edu.