The core team does all the back-end work to keep the campaign progressing: fundraising, training and recruiting organizers, maintaining relationships with partner organizations, and strategic planning.
Tricia first started working with the Real Food Challenge somewhat serendipitously in 2011, and since then has worked with the organization in several capacities. Her original role in 2011 was to coordinate the first National Food Day. After a two-month stay in the Middle East she returned to Boston and helped drive the real food campaign at Northeastern University, where she studied Cultural Anthropology. After graduating in 2013, Tricia stepped into a new role at RFC that combines administrative work, fundraising, and several small organizing projects on the side. Tricia is also an active member of her local church, and is passionate about learning to integrate faith and organizing. She enjoys exploring the many neighborhoods of and around Boston, swimming in lakes, cooking with leftovers, and having intense theological discussions over spicy food. Email Tricia.
The regional coordinators do on the ground organizing work, coordinate student campaigns in different regions and act as liaisons between the core team, RFOs and student leaders.
Estefania graduated in December 2010 from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, which she mobilized to become one of the first Fair Trade Universities in the country.Being born and raised in Ecuador nurtured her lifelong concern for justice. She is an organizer and activist passionate about making real changes to build sustainable food systems, alleviate poverty and hunger, and to let our world breathe some clean air. After a long time of shifting from one home to another, she is now settled in Boston supporting student food justice initiatives in the Northeast. When she is not organizing she is dancing salsa, eating Ecuadorean food and riding her bike in the sun. Email Stefy.
Ollín was born, raised, and livin' in Brooklyn, NY. During high school, Ollín helped organize the school's first LGBTQ alliance and became involved in social justice work from there. Ollín attended the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, studying Political Science. He has also ventured off to do solidarity work in Oaxaca, MX, working with grassroots organizations for migrant rights, and working with LGBTQ communities. After that, he began to organize with the Steering Committee of the Student Farmworker Alliance/CIW network, and focusing on farmworker justice, community organizing, and food justice work for the next few years. He is now hyped to be working with students throughout the Northeast, organizing for sustainable and concrete change within our food system and beyond. Ollín is a son of Mexican and Salvadorian working-class immigrants, and is deeply inspired by his elders/ancestor's history of struggle and resistance. For good times, Ollín loves tacos, DJing at queer/poc spaces, tattoos, radical political education work, collective liberation, and project runway. Email Ollín.
The regional field organizer fellows do on the ground organizing, extending the network and providing support to students running campaigns on campus. They also act as liaisons between the core team, field staff and student leaders.
View the Regional Field Organizers from your home region:
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Sofie became interested in food issues during a high school environmental studies class. Soon after starting college, she realized that issues of food sustainability and justice were those that she would never tire of. Sofie graduated from Bennington College in December of 2012 with a self-designed major focused on Food, Sustainability, and Society. While at Bennington, Sofie led the Bennington Sustainable Food Project. With the group, she helped turn the student garden into a perennial student farm, launch a student run food cooperative, grow from ten-ish active students to forty-ish, and raise 740 pounds of butternut squash for dining services. She's now settling back into life in Portland, where she gardens, puts on a monthly supper club, and published a little book. Email Sofie.
North Hollywood, CA
Eli was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Her interest in advocating for a more holistic food system came from time spent in the town of Ahuisculco, Jalisco (MX) and Southern California (USA), which influenced her politics and relationship with food and the environment. For Eli, environmental wellbeing has been a constant process of empowering, healing, challenging, and transforming the mind, body, and spirit with those around her in order to not reproduce everyday forms of violence. Since 2009, Eli has been a part of a student group that researched, organized, and developed student-led seminars and community workshops around food justice and its relationship with gender, the western education system, and questioning conventional philosophies of “progress” and “success.” With outside collaboration the group obtained institutional support for a 2+acre community garden, a long-term staff position, and new internship programs at the University of California, Riverside. Eli enjoys organizing with students, designing and building food gardens, running in the early mornings, and eating beans, salads, and trail mix with friends. Email Eli.
Santa Cruz, CA
In the sunny suburb of Irvine, California, Megan’s desire to have her family eat right led to her personal interest in the nutritive properties of food. While attending the University of California, Santa Cruz, Megan delved into the education and outreach aspect of the food movement through garden education with youth, where she led garden tours and organized farm-to-fork community meals. Megan's passion to pursue social justice from a faith-based perspective prompted her to participate in the Bay Area Urban Project (BayUP), where she learned about justice issues surrounding the environment and human rights within the inner-city context. During this time, Megan’s experience with West Oakland’s non-profit organization People's Grocery sparked her passion for food justice advocacy and being in solidarity with community members. Later, as the student program outreach coordinator for the UC Santa Cruz Food Systems Working Group (FSWG), Megan was able to bridge her experiences with youth and food justice awareness, and lead interactive food system tours in her community. Email Megan.
Santa Fe, NM
Ethan recently graduated from Northern New Mexico College. While studying at Northern, he served as the student senate president, helped the campus-based Sostenga! Center for Sustainable Food, Agriculture & Environment launch a student-run sustainable food cafe with guidance from Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, and worked for three semesters as a student intern with Food and Water Watch New Mexico. From sustainable food to environmental justice, immigrant and indigenous rights, climate action, and more, Ethan has been deeply engaged with many of this generation's struggles to create a better world. Now living in Santa Fe, he is excited to help the Real Food Challenge take root on college campuses across the Southwest. Email Ethan.
After growing up in Japan and Florida, Kelly’s passion for restoring and conserving the Earth resulted from her time in the rural hills of Kentucky, which introduced her to the rich culture of the Appalachian Region. During her time at Berea College, where she graduated with a B.A. in Sustainability & Environmental Studies with a focus on Ecological Architecture, Kelly had the opportunity to be involved with a student-led sustainable community development organization (HEAL) that honed her desire to work on local food initiatives through community development. Kelly’s desire for a change of scenery brought her across country to Flagstaff, AZ with her soon to be husband, and beloved cat named Wolf Junior, where she will organize for real food. In addition to sustainability initiatives Kelly enjoys cooking and eating with friends, playing music, painting, and making pottery. Email Kelly.
Lindsay graduated from Carleton College in 2013 with a BA in Environmental Studies--Food and Agriculture. Unaware of food systems work before college, Lindsay’s “light bulb” moment occurred during a Global Change Biology class, when she realized that food connects everyone and everything on and to the planet. Pursuing biology early in her college career, Lindsay's passion for the social and political sides of food blossomed after several experiences as a junior and senior: traveling to China to study agroecology and farming culture; connecting student volunteers with local farms; and deepening her involvement with the Real Food Challenge. In her home life, Lindsay enjoys riding horses, reading mystery novels, playing card games, and knitting a never-ending afghan. Email Lindsay.
A Denver native, Molly recently graduated from Cornell College (located in the picturesque rural town of Mount Vernon, IA) with a degree in something called “Politics” that actually represented a generalist education in writing, prioritizing, improvisatory problem-solving, interpersonal relationship-building, and public speaking. She inherited a strong relationship with RFC when she took over leadership of Cornell’s Environmental Club her senior year, and found in the concept of food systems thinking a framework powerful and passionate enough to anchor her motley collection of interests – national food and agriculture policy, sustainable urban planning, alternative economic theory, proselytizing against processed carbohydrates – into a miraculous, coherent whole. After four years she has become extremely fond of the Midwest, and is super pumped to be living and working as an RFO in the riot of urban farms, school gardens, craft beers, and local food festivals that is the beautiful Chicagoland. Email Molly.
A Michigander at heart, Rose first discovered the power of Real Food through her family's CSA membership and household switch to vegetarianism growing up. Later transplanting to Chicago to attend Loyola University, Rose started looking for ways to rekindle her connection to food in the midst of urban spaces. As president of Loyola's gardening and urban agriculture organization, Rose became enamored with the world of urban agriculture, edible landscaping, and food movement organizing. Throughout her time as a Rambler, Rose was also a student facilitator for the university outdoor program, sparking a love for the outdoors and experiential education. With an impressive range of scattered interests, Rose recently graduated from Loyola with an Anthropology degree and three minors in Art History, Environmental Science, and Visual Communication. As a fellow, Rose hopes to witness incredible students win campaigns throughout the Midwest, especially at her alma mater, where she was an instigator of a Real Food Challenge Campaign. When she's not combining her loves of facilitation, food, and social justice, Rose will likely be seen furiously riding her bike through the city, thinking of puns, illustrating & designing, experimenting with vegan recipes, watching the Beyonce Tour DVD, and dreaming up another bucket-list backpacking trip. Email Rose.
Manasa’s love for real food begins with childhood memories in a south Indian village where she enjoyed running through rice fields, playing with cows and climbing fruit trees. From a very young age, she had a passion for the art of healing and empowering those around her to obtain and maintain a healthy happy lifestyle. Her travels to developing countries for medical and disaster relief efforts inspired her to live the life of an activist and volunteer. Having discovered food activism as core to addressing other local and global issues, she proceeded to work with the Real Food Challenge for her honors thesis that she completed at the University of South Florida. Manasa graduated with a degree in Classics and Chemistry, and her hobbies include yoga, moon gazing and experiencing new cultures. Email Manasa.
Lauren heralds from the sunny, white sand beaches of Sarasota, FL. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. While in graduate school, Lauren volunteered with a community garden where she learned about the community building potential of local food in the face of food insecurity. A passionate environmental and social justice advocate, Lauren realized that food issues, like environmental issues, were rooted in larger systems of culture and power and got involved with local change agents such as Slow Food and Transition Sarasota. Lauren is excited to be taking her food advocacy to the next level by joining the Real Food Challenge team! In addition to her role as an RFO, Lauren works as a fisheries biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Email Lauren.
Growing up in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., Bennett has experienced a diversity of food cultures. As a teenager, his health deteriorated, which he partially attributes to ignorant yet innocent eating choices. His recovery correlated with greater knowledge about food, and he now consumes Real Food on the regular, including fermented foods. Aspiring to play basketball and/or football in college, injuries took him on a different path. During a gap year after high school, Bennett played pop punk in a band called For Love of Ivy. At Guilford College, Bennett learned how to effectively enable change, and he has left legacies at his college, including “Meadowfed,” a biannual dinner at the Guilford Farm, and an adobe oven. Through Guilford’s Slow Food Chapter, he initiated the process towards 20% by 2020 and hopes that his school (and many, many others) achieve this goal. Bennett looks forward to helping other students navigate the proper channels towards effective activism. Email Bennett.
Born and raised in a suburb outside of Baltimore, Laurie did not have much contact with food before it touched her plate. That quickly changed during a fishing trip she took at the age of 11, which began her journey of caring about food ethics. Although animal ethics are what ultimately brought food front and center, while studying Environmental Studies at Guilford College Laurie discovered the environmental and social degradation caused by industrial farming. After adding Political Science as a double major, she used her studies to help influence her work with Guilford's newly established Slow Food chapter and helped to establish a college course encompassing all things related to food justice. Because Laurie's segway into food was animals, she can almost always be found reading, chatting or advocating for animal welfare. She can also be found attempting to fix bicycles, concocting quick vegan meals, and playing the guitar, or finding new ways to live simply according in accordance with her Quaker lifestyle. Email Laurie.
Gemma, at age 23, has a life long passion of food and cooking, which she has explored through restaurants, farming, and academics. As a recent graduate from The New School with a self designed BA in Urban Sustainability, Advocacy, and Communications, she fell into organizing through her senior thesis project, which focused on community organizing and food activism on campus through the Slow Food movement. As part of the Slow Food chapter she helped to organize regular community meals on campus to both recognize the need for a break from the hectic college schedules to cook and eat together, as well as discuss deeper food issues. I joined RFC because I realized how I have been affected by the food system, and the role I have to shape, challenge and effect change within it. Bring it! Email Gemma.
Kierstin was born and raised in Guilford, CT in her family’s 237-year-old house with a bison named Hillary for a neighbor. Kierstin moved to Burlington, VT in 2010 to work and attend the University of Vermont where she fell in love with Burlington and Vermont’s slow food culture. After witnessing the dire consequences of chemical agriculture abroad, and developing a fish co-op while studying in Thailand, she returned to the states determined to change our food system. Kierstin began taking focused courses in UVM’s Community Development and Applied Economics department and working with the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link. Kierstin has since graduated and is working at the local Great Harvest Bread Co. running two of the farmer’s market stands. Kierstin enjoys drawing botanicals, cooking, drinking tea, honing her city gardening and composting skills, Lake Champlain sunsets, and maple cream-mees. Email Kierstin.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Massachusetts, Noor was ever grateful to make friends from all over Greater Boston working and living on youth development farms. What struck Noor was less the farming itself, (bless those who toil in the soil), but all of the opportunities for discussing and combating social injustice in our communities and for coming together in the fields, classrooms, and farmers markets. Her interest in education geared towards justice eventually lead her to Earlham College from which she graduated in 2013 with a degree in Peace and Global Studies. Besides doing Real Food Challenge organizing and Palestine solidarity activism, Noor enjoys singing and listening to gospel music, running, dancing, making new friends, and eating really delicious real food. Email Noor.
Elizabeth landed in Boston last August ready to shake down the systems of power as a campus organizer. She registered people to vote, failed to climb the rock wall in her office, worked with incredible activists, and bounced between Dartmouth and the Hub for 8 months. Now she runs two food pantries in the greater Boston area and works to make them shame-free, healthy, and tasty. An Okie born and bred, she made off with two B.A.s from the University of Oklahoma in International Studies and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment in 2012. Simultaneously, she and her comrades organized for food/environmental justice, queer liberation, prison abolition, and much more. One of her close friends nicknamed her Ruckus, and as a flamboyant nerd-vegan-poet-chef-fangirl-rover-organizer she brings the ruckus wherever she roams. Email Elizabeth.
The Steering Committee sits at the center of the organization to address organizational priorities on a national level. They offer guidance on campaigns, programs and operations of the organization.
California State University Monterey Bay
Stephanie is student currently attending California State University Monterey Bay pursuing a major in Environmental Studies. She is a daughter of foodies and grew up appreciating the different ethnic cuisines and celebrating food. Recognizing the impact food has on wide range of social and environmental injustices did not become clear to her until taking a writing class during her first year of college. She jumped head first into RFC with starting a calculator account on her campus and working other Cal State students and RFC supports to form the Real Food for CSUs campaign. Real Food for CSUs is a campaign for the system of CA state universities to sign a real food commitment. She is really excited to take on the role as a student representative for RFC on a national scale. When she is not working on campaigns, you can find Stephanie cooking in the kitchen with her suitemates or hanging out at the farmers market. Email Stephanie
Johns Hopkins University
Sunny was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and recently graduated from Hotchkiss, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut. At Hotchkiss, she worked on the school owned farm and got hooked on the satisfaction that simple labor and the working landscape gives. She co-founded the Real Food chapter and signed the commitment as the first high school in the nation. Now at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability, she runs the calculator and product shift towards JHU’s commitment of 35%. In her free time, Sunny likes to sing and jam on the guitar or uke, go on spontaneous adventures, and be super silly! She is excited to be a part of the Steering Committee and try on the dual role as a student organizer and decision maker on a national level. Email Sunny
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Hannah is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst pursuing a major in Public Health with a concentration in Food Systems. Growing up with a love of gardening, she first began to think about transparency in our food system through running a fair trade chocolate campaign at her high school. Continuing on to university, Hannah broadened her understanding of food justice working with community-based organizations focused on urban agriculture and food access. Seeing food as a means to address the overwhelming social and environmental injustice that exists in our world, she joined the RFC team at her school and has never looked back. Jumping into an exciting campaign to get the commitment signed, Hannah has continued working towards making UMass Amherst a successful Implementation school- and she is excited to be a student representative on the national steering committee! When she is not organizing for Real Food on campus, Hannah enjoys traveling, biking, reading, and sitting down to long meals with friends. Email Hannah
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Laura is currently a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities studying Environmental Policy. She will be graduating in May, and will be continuing organizing work with Environment America in Portland, Maine. When she's not organizing student leaders around food, you can likely find her playing with animals, hula hooping, or reading a mystery novel...and of course, eating delicious, REAL food! Email Laura