After taking a course at Calhoun about the politics of food, Phoebe P. ’20 was inspired to go deeper on the topic. For her Junior Workshop project, she researched, wrote and produced a podcast exploring the complex issue of school food, with the goal of sharing what she learned with a wider audience.
The Project: A podcast about school food that interviews experts in the industry, with a focus on the budget issues faced by public and private school food programs.
The Inspiration: I took a class with Chef Bobo [Calhoun’s Executive Chef & Director of Food Service] during my junior year called the Politics of Food that looked at the intersection of food with topics such as global population, immigration, environmental issues and more. One aspect that we touched on in the class was school food, and how the USDA has regulations on the type of food that schools can serve. I was inspired by this class and knew that I wanted to do something around food for my Junior Workshop project. I landed on the issue of budgeting [for school food programs], specifically how public schools versus private schools deal with having enough money for each kid that they serve, how they receive funding, and how they provide healthy, nutritious meals using the money that they have.
Process: I did a lot of my own research on government laws and restrictions around school food. I read a 50-page document on how much schools spent on food from 2011 to 2017 during the Obama era, as well as how Michelle [Obama] created new healthy lunch programming. I researched how this changed under the new administration. But a lot of what I learned was by talking to people. I interviewed Chef Bobo, and he put me in touch with a lot of his contacts in the food world. I landed on a podcast because I wanted to present these conversations to the community.
What I Learned: I definitely learned how to go out on my own to pursue a project and have good time management. I also developed a lot of people skills by contacting people to set up interviews and interviewing them for the podcast. I had no previous podcasting experience, so I researched how to create podcasts and listened to a lot of podcasts on my own.
What’s Next: I’m still learning so much about the food production world. It’s definitely something I want to go into in the future.