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Food Justice

  • Food Justice



  • Faculty Research

  • Example Student Projects

  • Assessment of the Sustainability of Santa Clara University's Food System

    Student authors: Nicholas Chan, Kalina Joffray, Emma McCurry, Tyler Whittaker

    Community partner: Real Food Challenge

    Faculty advisors: Christopher Bacon, Lindsey Kalkbrenner 

    Abstract: Universities play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable food system.  A shift towards sourcing food from companies where workers are fairly treated is crucial to building a more humane food system. Furthermore, moving towards ecologically sound farming practices can reduce contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. This study quantified local, ecological, fair, and humane food purchases over the 2017-18 academic year by assessing food items’ third party certifications. The study also assessed expenditures on plant-based food and the level of processing of purchased food. The dining services’ total expenditure on Real Food -- food that qualifies as local, ecological, fair or humane -- is 19.68%. Some 3% of foods are certified Fair Trade. Plant-based food accounted for 69.03% of total expenditure.  The study recommends dining services prioritize sourcing from fair trade enterprises, and recommends that dining services adopt the protein flip, using vegetables as mains and meats as sides. Future research will include the measure of carbon footprint of food items.

  • Confronting Food and Housing Insecurity: Incorporating Garden Space into Affordable Housing Developments in San José

    Student authors: Kimy Grandi Soriano Meredith Anderson Anna Johansen, y Lois Om

    Community partners: La Mesa Verde and Sacred Heart Community Services

    Faculty advisor: Christopher Bacon

    Abstract: Environmental justice assures “that all people – regardless of their race, color, nation of origin or income – are able to enjoy equally high levels of environmental protection.” (, 2018). This is not the reality in Santa Clara County (SCC), especially in the Silicon Valley (SV), where residents are faced with disproportionate housing and food insecurity, despite SCC’s rich agricultural history. Renters and homeowners in the SV “spend more of their income on housing than anywhere else in the U.S.,” and residents in San José are spending more than 40% of their income on housing (Ruiz, 2017). The ability to pay rent and afford fresh, healthy, and sustainably- grown food compete with each other, as food insecurity impacts “44% of the children and 12% of the seniors” in SCC (Loaves and Fishes, 2018). As a way to confront these issues of food justice, La Mesa Verde (LMV) addresses food insecurity in San José by providing backyard gardens to low-income households. Recently, LMV has begun to lead policy campaigns focused on addressing issues of food access. Our project aims to discover how we can integrate garden initiatives and growing space into affordable housing developments to ultimately address the lack of access to and affordability of fresh, organic and culturally-appropriate produce in SCC.

  • Enfrentando la inseguridad alimentaria y de la vivienda: Incorporando espacio de jardín en desarrollos de viviendas asequibles en San José

    Student authors: Kimy Grandi Soriano Meredith Anderson Anna Johansen, y Lois Om

    Community partners: La Mesa Verde and Sacred Heart Community Services

    Faculty advisor: Christopher Bacon

    Abstract: La justicia ambiental asegura que “todas personas --independientemente de su raza, color, nación de origen o nivel de ingresos --sean capaz de disfrutar niveles igualmente altos de protección ambiental” (,2018). Esta no es la realidad en el Condado de Santa Clara (SCC), especialmente en el Silicon Valley (SV), donde residentes se enfrentan con inseguridad alimentaria e inseguridad de vivienda desproporcionadas, a pesar de tener una rica historia agrícola de SCC. Inquilinos y propietarios de casa en SV “gastan más de sus ingresos en la vivienda que en cualquier otro lugar en los EEUU”, y residentes específicamente de San José gastan más de 40% de sus ingresos en la vivienda” (Ruiz 2017). Muchas veces, hay que escoger entre comprar comida sana, fresca, y cultivada de forma sostenible, o pagar la renta. Como resultado, la inseguridad alimentaria afecta a “44% de los niños y 12% de los ancianos” en SCC (Loaves and Fishes, 2018). Como respuesta a esta injusticia alimentaria, La Mesa Verde (LMV) formó para eliminar la inseguridad alimentaria a través de un programa de jardines para hogares de bajos ingresos. En años recientes, LMV empezó a liderar campañas políticas para abordar los problemas relacionados a acceso a comida. Nuestro proyecto quiere descubrir cómo se puede integrar iniciativas de jardín, y espacio para cultivar, a desarrollos de viviendas asequibles. A través de eso, se está confrontando la falta de acceso y la inaccesibilidad económica de comida fresca.

  • Intensive Dairy and Cattle Production Operations: Assessing Risks to Communities in Kern County, California

    Student authors: Heather Freeman, Sarah Porter, Efren Oxlaj Tambito, Jon Schafer

    Community partners: Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment

    Faculty advisor: Christopher Bacon

    Abstract: Despite the growing literature on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and their associated effects on community health and the environment, there is limited information and location data in both the literature and in publicly available sources regarding dairy and cattle CAFO operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Our team utilized a mixed methods approach aimed at addressing the following research questions: (1) What are the specific locations and sizes of the large scale livestock operations in Kern County, and are there demographic disparities among communities in close proximity to these locations, and (2) how are the environmental risks/hazards associated with large scale livestock operations perceived by the nearby residents of Kern County? We combined existing public records of CAFO operations in the county with location data we collected using GIS and satellite imagery to create an updated and complete inventory of CAFO operations in Kern County to make available to the public. Over the course of two visits to Kern County, we conducted 46 community surveys with Kern County residents and 13 interviews with key informants. Finally, our team conducted a review of publicly available records to compare our findings with those of the County and regulatory bodies. We identified 55 CAFOs operating in Kern County, with 33 of these CAFOs found within three miles of a public school. Further, we found that 20 of the 55 CAFOs in Kern County were permitted without being subject to environmental review in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The results of our community surveys and interviews indicate that residents of Kern County are concerned with the presence of CAFOS near their communities and aware of specific health and environmental risks posed by nearby CAFOs, with the majority of participants (61.4%) reporting experiencing negative effects from living near CAFO operations. Lastly, our review of publicly available records indicated discrepancies between the perceived significance of environmental and human health impacts of CAFO operations by community members versus regulatory bodies. To conclude, CAFOs in Kern County are perceived as a threat to human health and the environment by residents. Given that CAFOs are significant emitters of malodors, pollutants, and contribute to other forms of contamination, implementing policy solutions to address these impacts has the potential to improve the welfare of the residents affected by the siting of CAFOs.