Modern Farmer: Farm-to-Street Revolution Is Almost Here
They might deal in gourmet grilled cheeses, Korean-Mexican fusion and chocolate-covered bacon, but rare is the food truck that also traffics in food justice.
Luckily, Cassandria Campbell ['07] and Jackson Renshaw have added “activism” to the chalkboard menu. The founders of Boston-based Fresh Food Generation aim to bring culturally appropriate, sustainable meals to lower-income areas of the city that typically lack for healthy food options.
The partnership was written in the adolescent stars. The duo met as high schoolers at The Food Project, a local nonprofit that brings together teens from diverse backgrounds to assist in sustainable food production. For both, it was a life-altering experience.
“Before The Food Project, I didn’t really know what I was passionate about or what I wanted to do,” says Renshaw. Campbell came in with more knowledge but still felt her eyes opened: “I knew that there were a lot of people who didn’t have a lot to eat, in this country, in other countries, in Boston, so I was really interested in food bank work. It had just never occurred to me that the food that they were eating was actually harmful.” (Areas like Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury, three of Boston’s biggest neighborhoods, suffer from higher rates of diabetes and obesity.)
Their subsequent accomplishments presaged future roles as food justice trailblazers. Campbell went on to Swarthmore, returned to The Food Project as a development coordinator, then earned her master’s in city planning from MIT. Renshaw, meantime, studied ecological agriculture at the University of Vermont.
So what brought them back together? Campbell’s commuting stroke of genius. “I was working downtown, and the food truck scene was really popular,” she recalls. But living in Roxbury, a less solvent part of the city, “I realized that my food options were very limited and that I was traveling to other neighborhoods to get good food.” Creative eating options, mobile kitchens … the Fresh Food Generation seed was planted. Campbell then approached old friend Renshaw with the idea, he readily acquiesced, and the rolling revolution began.
Their catering efforts formally launch in November; while the truck’s schedule is being finalized, the hope is to debut at the local winter farmer’s market that starts up in January. Meantime the duo will continue to prove that “sustainable” and “accessible” are not mutually exclusive food terms.
“The idea is that the farm-to-plate movement is for everyone,” Campbell says. “It’s not just this thing that people with money can afford to do.”
Cassandria Campbell '07 earned a B.A. in economics and public policy from Swarthmore College.