Engage with BFI

The Berkeley Food Institute is honored to collaborate with many talented UC Berkeley students. Below is a partial list of ways that BFI engages with the student community.

Jobs, Fellowships, and Other Funding

Since 2013, BFI has provided 5 Graduate Student Researcher positions, 10 undergraduate jobs, 29 fellowships ($88,420 total funding) and 8 awards and consultancies ($12,998 total funding).

  • Student Jobs: BFI has one to two Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) yearly, plus two to four undergraduate student employees annually.
  • Student Fellowships: BFI offers an array of student fellowships—for undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD students—which range in funding from approximately $1,000 to $5,000. In addition to providing funding, BFI staff mentor the student fellows and help create connections to experts and opportunities in their field. Fellowships to date include: Research Fellowships, Community Engagement Fellowships, Equity and Inclusion Project Fellowships, UC Global Food Initiative Fellowships, Center for Diversified Farming Systems Fellowships, and occasionally Visiting Student Fellowships. BFI recognizes and publicizes the work of many of the student fellows through the BFI newsletter and other sources, such as UC News.
  • Student Consultations for Policy Briefs: In 2016, BFI awarded three graduate students fellowships of $2,000 each to assist as “consultants” in the development of policy briefs.
  • Student Group Support: BFI has a small annual budget for supporting the activities of UC Berkeley food and agriculture-related student groups. Requests are considered until the funding is used up for the year. A specific student group can make up to two requests per academic year for a total of no more than $500 given to any particular group in one year.
  • Support for Student Participation in Conferences: BFI has, on occasion, funded students to participate in conferences. In 2016, BFI helped five students attend the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association conference.
  • Student Award Program in Food Reporting: In 2015, BFI held a food-systems reporting contest that awarded prizes of $1,000 each to two students through a competitive process involving faculty judges and external experts.

Mentorship, Educational, and Leadership Opportunities

  • Staffing: BFI’s four full-time staff spend 15 to 20 percent of their time on student engagement and mentorship. This includes mentoring individual students on policy projects; leading the Food, Identity, and Representation Working Group (half of which is students); meeting with and responding to individual students inquiries; and mentoring fellows and student staff.
  • BFI Student Leadership and Representatives on Executive Committee: BFI greatly appreciates the participation and leadership of two student representatives on the Executive Committee. In 2015 BFI invited the formation of undergraduate and graduate student councils. Each council selected a student to officially serve on the Executive Committee.
  • Development of the Undergraduate Food Systems Minor: BFI facilitated the food systems minor development committee, which had four student representatives. After one and a half years of development, the minor now exists for all UC Berkeley undergrads. The process included composing a list of more than 300 local organizations engaged in food systems change, with which students enrolled in the minor—and any other student—might engage through internships, volunteering, and other opportunities. BFI staff continue to serve on the food systems minor committee.
  • Equity and Inclusion in Food Systems Project: This cross-campus project is aimed at making the campus climate in food systems research, education, activism, and operations more inclusive. Students are vitally involved in every aspect of the project, including leadership, working group participation, workshop participation, and research for a UC Berkeley food landscape map. This project has provided fellowships for three graduate and three undergraduate students since inception.
  • Community Engagement and Leadership Fellowships: This program provides funding for graduate students to complete summer/fall internships with community organizations, with a particular focus on leadership development. A graduate student researcher was integral to the development of the program. To date, BFI has funded five Community Engagement and Leadership Fellows at $4,000 each.
  • Public Events: Food Exchange Series, Diversified Farming Systems Roundtables, special events, and conferences are free and open to the public, and students are particularly welcome to attend. For many events, a group of students are invited to participate in meals and meetings with speakers, when interests overlap. Each year, two students co-lead the Diversified Farming Systems Roundtable, which includes participating in the selection of topics and speakers and hosting speakers. For some events, students are fully involved in the planning and execution of the event. For example, the 2015 Decolonizing Foodways Symposium, which was organized by the Food, Identity, and Representation Working Group, had five students involved in every aspect of conception and execution. This event, and several others, have also provided opportunities for student volunteers to interact with speakers and BFI staff and affiliated faculty.
  • Urban Agroecology Education: BFI supports hands-on student engagement at Student Organic Garden, Oxford Tract, and UC Gill Tract Community Farm by advertising events, financially supporting some events, and working closely on the development of the proposed Center for Urban Agroecology and Food Justice. BFI supported a fellow in the summer of 2016 to help develop this proposal in collaboration with the community representatives, faculty, and staff.
  • Edible Education: BFI financially contributed to the Edible Education Course in 2014 and 2015, and shares course video recordings on the BFI website.
  • Big Ideas Program: BFI contributes $5,000 to $10,000 annually to the Food Systems Innovation Contest within the student fellowship program Big Ideas, and has mentored students through the application process. BFI staff and faculty also act as judges in the contest.
  • UC Global Food Initiative: BFI is a hub on campus for many of the activities of the UC Global Food Initiative, all of which involve student engagement through fellowships, jobs, and research opportunities. BFI also helps to facilitate a working group at UC Berkeley related to the Global Food Initiative, and student representatives are key members of the working group, which meets quarterly.

Research and Policy Opportunities

  • Research: Thirteen percent of the $336,312 that BFI has provided via faculty seed grants between 2014 and 2016 funded graduate and undergraduate researchers involved in those projects. These students have the opportunity to participate in cross-disciplinary research projects that also include community partners.
  • Policy Projects: BFI served as a “client” and mentor for three policy projects of Goldman School of Public Policy students. These included support and mentoring for projects on soil health, food waste policy, and small grocery store access in “food deserts.”
  • Faculty Seminars: BFI has held three semester-long faculty seminars to date, with students invited to participate and comprising about a third of attendees.

Information Sharing and Career Development

  • Student Opportunities Newsletter: BFI sends out a weekly student newsletter that compiles various opportunities both on campus and off for jobs, volunteering, internships, and fellowships. Sign up by checking “Student Opportunities” below.
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  • Forums on Careers in Food Systems: BFI has participated in and co-sponsored events about careers in food systems, consisting of panels made up mainly of UC Berkeley alumni who have successful careers in this field. These events, held in 2014 and 2015, and organized with the CNR Alumni Association, have attracted more than 65 people each, largely students.
  • Student Resources: BFI’s website is the only place on campus listing all food-related student groups, all food courses, and resources for community engagement in food systems. BFI welcomes updated information from students and faculty.