Janet Napolitano speaking in front of a garden
UC President Janet Napolitano announces the Global Food Initiative at Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley with Alice Waters. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend.

With the world population projected to reach eight billion in 10 years, it is now more important than ever to create solutions for global food security. By leveraging University of California’s achievements in nutrition, agricultural and climate science, UC President Janet Napolitano and Chancellors from the 10 campuses have created an initiative that addresses local and international food and nutrition issues.

With assistance from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, The UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) encourages each campus to identify sustainability and nutrition best practices. As part of the initiative, the Office of the President recently launched a fellowship program that sponsors three graduate or undergraduate students as they pursue projects or internships. Along with 51 other fellows announced in December, three Berkeley students received the $2,500 award to address food-related issues:

  • Miranda Everitt, a 2nd year student pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy
  • Vanessa Taylor, a 2nd year student pursuing a Master’s degree in Development Practice
  • Kate Kaplan, a 4th year student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Society and Environment

Each of the GFI fellows identifies a different focus by working with researchers and interviewing students, staff and the community about food insecurity. Everitt will conduct case studies by talking with researchers and students who have effectively pushed for policy change. She plans to determine how Berkeley is providing sustainable food solutions. “These researchers will be profiled to showcase our great work and point a way forward to making positive changes to our food system using UC Berkeley’s resources and expertise,” Everitt says. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Everitt worked at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which she credits for her knowledge about hunger and poverty. “I strongly believe that any food policy (or labor, health, etc.) should take into consideration that 1 in 6 Americans are struggling with food insecurity,” she notes. Everitt hopes that her research will not only highlight best practices but also bridge the gap between academic work and real-world application.

As a fellow, Taylor will partner with the GFI Subcommittee on Food Security and Food Pantries to highlight effective practices and create a sustainable food security model for all of the UC campuses. “I believe that collaboration between all stakeholders is necessary to ensure sustainable, impact-oriented development, and the framework provided by the Global Food Initiative could cultivate that synergy,” Taylor explains. She plans on drawing upon her observations as a field researcher in Nepal, where she examined agricultural initiatives, to solve sustainability problems on the local level.

To learn more about the Global Food Initiative and the student fellowship program, visit the Berkeley Food Institute website.