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A Tale of Two Asias

September 10, 2013
(credit: Asian Development Bank)

(credit: Asian Development Bank)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), a major player in the fight against poverty in developing Asia, issued a new report this past week on “Food Security in Asia and the Pacific.” And yesterday, WFPA and NYU Wagner’s Office of International Programs hosted a sit-down discussion with Cyn-Young Park, ADB’s Assistant Chief Economist, Director of the Economic Analysis and Operations Support Division to discuss the findings and recommendations.

Parts of the report collate data proving that Asia’s economic inequalities are leading to over nutrition in the upper classes along with a continuation of malnutrition in the lower stratum. The report also discusses the future food production issues across the region. Feel free to click the links above to download a free PDF version of the entire report. For other resources on global food security, please turn to the World Food Program and the USDA.

And if you missed your chance to meet members of the WFPA Board, stop by the Wagner Student Group Info Fair this Thursday from 5pm to 6:30pm. Chandan Sharma and Keely Gerhold will be there to discuss  our mission and to hear what food policy topics you want us to cover this year!


Meet the 2013-2014 NYU WFPA Board!

August 27, 2013

Between the first NYC Mayoral Candidate Food Forum to the splitting of the Farm Bill in the House of Representatives, the summer has been interesting for national and local food policy. Of course, WFPA is here to help you understand it all, and anything else that occurs during our next school year. But, before we do that, you need to know who we are! Without further ado, may we introduce ourselves…..

WFPA Photo

Chandan Sharma, Chair
Why you joined the WFPA board: To facilitate (with a great group of people!) much-needed conversations on food-related issues, policies, and politics

Classes most looking forward to this year: Capstone

Dream job or current job: Public Policy advocate for healthy school food nationwide

Favorite ingredient: Toss-up between kale and Brussels sprouts




elvisAmy Black, Treasurer
Why you joined the WFPA board: To work with a body of students in creating events and planning discussions and panels on food, food planning, and waste issues.

Classes most looking forward to this year:  Each and every one of them.

Dream job or current job:  Own a small farm (urban or rural) somewhere around world. That or do some policy work or writing on food access, food waste, and food safety in the United States and abroad. I would be pretty happy if I could swing both.

Favorite ingredient: Cheese.



Keely Gerhold, Event Co-Chair
Why you joined the WFPA board:
I joined the WFPA board because as a South Dakota farm girl, food has always been a key part of my existence, whether I knew it or not. I want to learn more about food policy and how students & New Yorkers relate to food, and the WFPA is a place where people can come together to talk about issues and explore solutions. NYU is a great place to learn from our peers and New York is a beautiful city that has a lot to give, and the WFPA can be a significant platform to connect these things. I also think urban farming in NYC is fascinating and I hope to continue to bring WFPA members out to farms in the city to get our hands dirty. I’m excited to dig into some real community and food related issues as the Events Chair this year!

Classes most looking forward to this year:
I started at Wagner in January, so I’m beginning some of my International focused classes this semester. The faculty has already proven to be amazing and I’m really looking forward to getting to know more professors and learning from them. I’m taking Race, Identity and Inclusion in Organizations with Professor Erica Foldy, and I am nerdily excited to take a class with her and challenge myself with this course in particular.

Dream job or current job:
I have so many dream jobs that I couldn’t even tell you. I love working outside, working with kids, international relations, music, environmental politics (and all things environment and outdoors), agriculture and Hillary Clinton, so there’s a lot of variety in my experience and passions. I can see myself urban farming or working for the State Department (amongst a million other things), and Wagner is the perfect place for me to explore dream gigs.

Favorite ingredient:
Mexico has brought a great many things into my life, including its food and my favorite hot sauce, Tapatio. I can put Tapatio on just about anything (however popcorn is really one of the best things). I was also recently given Alice Waters’s Art of Simple Cooking cookbook after interning at Slow Food USA and I want to make everything in it. Simple is best!



Eddie Shumard, Event Co-Chair
Why I joined WFPA:  I joined the WFPA board because I wanted to engage and encourage a more open and transparent conversation about food and food policy. I also am thrilled to broaden my network at NYU by working side by side with my fellow WFPA board members from the Wagner School of Public Policy.  Together we will host what will likely be some of the most progressive dialogue anywhere in the country around food and food policy, with the leaders and innovators in policy development, community building, business, and agriculture.

Classes most looking forward to this year: Pretty stoked on both Contemporary Issues and Food Policy this semester, as Krishnendu Ray and Marion Nestle are both rock stars in their own regards in the food studies community.

Dream Job: Owning my own business that works to educate and engage citizens in food and agriculture through interactive and innovative events.  I also wouldn’t mind hosting my own TV (internet or traditional network television) show that catches people in food and agriculture doing good things from around the United States and the world. For now you can listen to me talk about food and with student leaders in food and agriculture on, listen to Summer of Food and keep a look out for my new show with fellow NYU Food Studier Steven McCutcheon debuting this fall.
Dream Big!

Favorite ingredient: imagination


Big Gay Yearbook Photo

Siobhan Wallace, Communications Chair
Why you joined the WFPA board: As I participated in WFPA events over the past year and a half, I came to utilize them either as a complement to my studies or as a way to dabble in unfamiliar policy discussions. I realized my personal schedule would be changing as I entered into the second half of my time with the Food Studies program and felt the time had come to not only attend more WFPA events, but to help continue the food policy conversation and use my creative energies for new topics.

Classes most looking forward to this year: I decided to take a new path this semester and registered for the Environmental Policy class offered by Steinhardt’s Environmental Conservation Education department. I will be taught by the amazing Michelle Land, who also the Director of Pace University’s Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies and shares one of my research interests: the intersection of animal welfare and conservation policy.

Dream job or current job: I really enjoy helping to expand the consumer market for sustainable purveyors, be it the producers themselves or the middlemen, via my writing, and would love to continue, though many who know me best would not be surprised if I up and bought a farm and a couple of herding dogs.

Favorite ingredient: Without a doubt, fresh sweet butter.

Applications open for 2013-2014 WFPA Board

April 5, 2013

We are happy to announce that the application is now open for the Wagner Food Policy Alliance 2013-2014 board. Applications are due by midnight on Friday April 12. For general questions please contact us at To ask questions of the current board, go ahead and contact us at our email addresses below. Descriptions for the open board positions below.


Chair | Alisa Ahmadian

Events Chair | Lauren Bush

Treasurer | Monique Marez

Community Outreach Chair | Noah Isaacs

Communications Chair | Rachel Hannon

First Year Board Member | Chandan Sharma


Apply to the 2013-2014 WFPA board using this link:



Available Positions:




This role represents the WFPA and its mission to the Wagner community, and individuals both inside and out of the greater NYU community. This person is the initial point of contact for alumni, current students, and student groups within and outside of Wagner, as well as within the greater NYC Student Food Collaborative – FoodEDU, and grow relationships with other NYC schools and universities.  With the help of fellow board members, this individual sets all the agendas for leadership meetings with the WFPA board and oversees the planning and implementation of WFPA events, ensuring a broad connection and cohesive trajectory among many themes.  The emphasis of these efforts is to foster face to face connections and ongoing working relationships among WFPA networks.  This board member will have the responsibility of sending regular newsletters to the WFPA listserv.


[Communications Chair]


The person serving in this capacity has the primary responsibility of creating strategic communications through online forums and coordinating outreach to WFPA group members, the greater Wagner community, and the graduate food studies program at NYU Steinhardt. Outreach consists of, but is not limited to, sharing in the responsibility of updating the Facebook page, twitter feed and group calendar, as well as organizing WFPA blog and blog writers.  Especially related to the WFPA listserv communications, this position will work in close collaboration with the chair focused on developing external relationships.  The emphasis of this role is to best utilize WFPA online resources to build the momentum and presence of the group through strategically employing these tools and building more specialized audience and readership bases. Additional responsibilities may include graphic and web design, and any other activities undertaken to promote a cohesive WFPA brand.




The Treasurer oversees and manages the WFPA budget proposal, while working closely with the WSA board. As budgets for the upcoming academic year are proposed in the spring semester before the newly elected WFPA Board assumes full leadership the following fall, this process begins in the spring semester, usually mid-April. The person serving in this capacity is also responsible for managing WFPA event business payments and student reimbursements. The Treasurer also directs WFPA Board and sub-group contingency fund requests throughout the year.


[Events Chair]


The person in this role serves as the logistical coordinator for all publicly sponsored WFPA events that take place within the NYU and FoodEDU Student Collaborative settings.  Responsibilities include securing location, ordering any necessary materials and food, and maintaining coordination of publicity and supporting functions.  This role will also work closely with the Community Outreach Chair to establish sustainable and slow food options for events with locally sourced vendors and farms.




Thank you–we are excited to work with the oncoming board to help continue shaping progressive discussions about food policy, justice and security for the next year!


-The Wagner Food Policy Alliance Board

WFPA at the Just Food Conference

April 1, 2013
Workshop attendees

Workshop attendees

The WFPA had our first public debut last weekend at the Just Food Conference. This year’s theme was “Break New Ground” and the workshop categories focused on Food Justice, CSAs, Education, Urban Agriculture, Farming, Engaging Local Communities, the Restaurant & Food Industry, Communications, Entrepreneurship and School Food. There were also Farmer and Food Policy panels, as well as a keynote address by Byron Hurt, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who made the critically acclaimed Soul Food Junkies.

The WFPA led a workshop on the USDA’s online Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass and Map. Our goal was to help attendees navigate online resources in order to find local food in their communities. At last year’s Just Food Conference Kathleen Merrigan, the US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture (who announced she is is stepping down), gave the keynote address and spoke about the impending launch of the KYF Compass website. So, it is a new tool and we were excited to share its many capabilities through a live demo of the site.


EXAMPLE: Food Hubs in the NY Region from the KYF2 Compass map

The Compass tool, however, does have its limitations – it only represents USDA data and gives a “snapshot” of the most recent datasets (you cannot compare Food Hubs in New York today with Food Hubs in New York five years ago). This is where Part Two of our demo came in. We showed participants other USDA and independent crowd-sourced websites that offer data on where to find local food, access, CSAs, and more. These sites included:

  • USDA Food Environment Atlas – This USDA tool will give you hard data in a variety of formats. The site will assemble statistics on the US food environment, including access, prices, assistance programs, and general community characteristics. It is a great source for graduate students!
  • – Local Harvest has been around since the 90s and is a crowd-sourced website to help you find farmers markets, family farms, CSAs, and other sources of sustainably grown local food. The site has an online store and newsletter.  
  • – Founded by former Google employee, is a crowd-sourced nationwide food guide. Its four main search categories are: Food & Farms; Food Artisans; Farmers Markets; and Eateries. You can search broadly or be as specific as “organic rhubarb” for that pie you want to make.

Monique presenting on alternative web-based tools for identifying local food

We ended our session with brief questions and the below handout to take home. There are so many great tools for collecting information and data out there – but our main conclusion from preparing for and leading this workshop was that sometimes it is still best to pick up the phone and talk to your local farmers or food purveyors. These web tools are very helpful to find contact information and farm websites and we hope they continue to work to engage active communities supporting local and regional food systems.


Noah discusses how "Know Your Farmer Know Your Food" was born.

Noah discusses how “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” was born.

Monday November 12: An Evening with Dirt Candy

November 6, 2012

WFPA and NYU Meatless Mondays team up to host Chef Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy, an amazing, vegetable-focused restaurant in the East Village. Amanda will join us to share her unique take on vegetarianism, running a successful restaurant in NYC, and will discuss her new comic cook-style cookbook.

Reception and book signing will follow, with Dirt Candy treats!

When: 11/06/2012 5:00pm-6:30pm

Location: NYU Fales Library, 70 Washington Square So., Third Floor



3rd Annual JBF Food Conference

October 16, 2012

When someone says the James Beard Foundation people often have a few key adjectives: Yes! Delicious Food, Culinary Wonder, the Oscars of the Food World, Over the top dinner party. All of those would but correct but you should add Sustainable Food System Advocate to your description!

The 3rd Annual JBF Food Conference starts tomorrow at Hearst Tower in NYC. This 2 day program covers the gamet of today’s pressing food issues. The conference theme is: A CRISIS IN CONFIDENCE: CREATING A BETTER, MORE SUSTAINABLE  FOOD WORLD WE CAN TRUST.

The program brings together thought leaders from all over the country to participate in workshops, and panels to tackle one of the most complicated areas of our food system: TRUST.

Speakers like Sam Kass, Debra Eschmeyer, and Janet Poppendieck will be on deck.

And, the conference will honor 5 JBF Leadership Award Honorees: Wendell Berry, Malik Yakini, Tensie Whelan, Kathleen Merrigan, and Jason Clay.  Find their bios here!

Take a look at the AGENDA !  And watch the conference stream live at:

Meet Board Member Rachel Hannon

October 7, 2012

Hi all! My name is Rachel Hannon and I am writing this post to tell you a little about my summer, particularly the abroad program I did in Ghana called Hunger and Food Security in a Global Perspective.

I learned about this study abroad trip from two of last year’s WFPA board members, Leah Selim and Ryan Brown. I am a Steinhardt Food Studies student and was interested in studying food in the developing world, so this course was a perfect fit. The course is taught by Professors John Gershman and Diana Beck and I highly recommend it to Wagner students and Nutrition/Public Health/Food Studies students interested in food policy.

Immediately after Spring term exams ended, we started a 3-week pre-departure class on campus. We discussed global commodity chains, the Green Revolution, food security and food sovereignty, the crisis of fish, and responses to global food crisis. This was an intensive preparation for issues we would be studying in the field in Ghana.

Once in Ghana our main assignment was to create a field research memo with a small group and develop a basic commodity chain analysis. What was wonderful about this task was that we got to do it in the field – we were talking directly to stakeholders and key players at every step along the value chain. The bulk of our research took place at 3 major markets in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale, and as we travelled north by bus we had many other opportunities to ask Ghanaians about the commodities we were studying. I was a part of the rice team, and other commodities included tomatoes, shea butter, fish and cassava.

Professors Gershman and Beck, along with the NYU Accra staff, truly made this trip outstanding. Each meeting was engaging and informative and we had the opportunity to ask the “tough” questions at every visit, such as use of GMO seeds, gender roles, fair trade, food access issues, land rights, and labor issues. Some highlight meetings/site visits included: The School Feeding Program, Millenium Village Project, AGRA, Cape Coast fisherman village, Tono Irrigation site, USAID, and a visits to a cocoa farm, shea butter cooperatives, and various farms. We also had an impromptu “Chopped” cook off in the NYU Accra dorms with ingredients from the Kaneshi Market (one of the joys of studying food is eating food).

It was a life-changing trip and I hope to make it back to Ghana and other parts of West Africa again someday. The course allowed me to grapple with my own understandings and opinions about food aid, farming methods, and the broader global food system. We saw firsthand how essential infrastructure is to the value chain, and we witnessed broader social and cultural issues that impact food production. Ultimately, we all felt so lucky to be able to share time with the wonderful, smart, and inspiring people of Ghana.

Stay tuned this year for info sessions for this summer’s trip!