UC Global Food Initiative

Center for Agroecology staff and students helped organize the 2015 Higher Education Food Summit at UC Santa Barbara as part of the Global Food Initiative work on food access and security.

The UC Global Food Initiative and Student Fellowships

Initiated in 2015 by former UC president Janet Napolitano, the UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) is an effort to use the university system’s expertise in research, education, and outreach to improve the food system on UC campuses, throughout the state and nation, and around the world. GFI is addressing topics such as UC student food security, agroecological practices, and resource conservation, as well as encouraging hands-on agricultural education and increasing the amount of locally produced, organic food available to the UC community. Student fellowships are available for both undergraduate and graduate students (see below).

Center for Agroecology and UCSC have been at the forefront of this type of work for decades. At UCSC, the GFI creates a framework and provides resources to enlist the expertise of the Center for Agroecology staff and other members of the campus community to identify existing best practices and knowledge within the UC system, develop new resources, and share this information across UC campuses, the state, and beyond.

The Global Food Initiative work has taken place through a number of subcommittees (described below) on which the Center for Agroecology and UCSC staff have teamed with members of other UC campuses to pursue GFI’s goals.

You can read more about the UC systemwide Global Food Initiative at the UC Office of the President website

Student Fellowships through GFI

The Global Food Initiative offers a student fellowship program for undergraduates and graduate students to work on research projects or internships related to the initiative. Apply by September 26, 2023, for the UCSC 2023-2024 Global Food Initiative $4,000 Fellowship.


PAST GFI Subcommittees

Subcommittee on Food Security and Access

Co-leads: Tim Galarneau (Center for Agroecology, UCSC) and Ruben E. Canedo (UCB)

Data collected throughout the UC system shows that between 20% and 40% of students are skipping meals to save money. Although this information clearly points to food insecurity being a systemwide challenge, there is no systemwide model to proactively heal hunger and provide holistic nutrition security for students.

The subcommittee on Food Security and Access worked to identify ways to address food security for both UC undergraduates and graduate students. Subcommittee members have determined that the most efficient strategy to heal malnourishment is by developing a holistic nutrition and resource security model across the UC system. This model entails re-envisioning acute service-based needs at existing food pantries and developing food pantries into UC Community Food Development Centers (CFDCs) that accommodate a cross section of connected services and support. Some of the core elements of this model included providing students with workshops on food budgeting, housing planning, and counseling services, and working with campus dining on food donations.

Much of the work done by this subcommitte is being expanded upon through UCSC Basic Needs, a collaborative effort by the Center for Agroecology and campus partners to provide students with food security and access as well as access to other basic needs including housing and mental health support.

Subcommittee on Experiential Learning

Co-Leads: Damian Parr (UCSC), Jennifer Sowerwine (UCB/UCCE), Ann Thrupp (UCB), Mark Van Horn (UCD), with participation by Valerie Shepard (UCLA), Kate Kaplan (UCB student)

This GFI subcommittee worked to increase, improve, and make more accessible experiential learning (EL) opportunities for students at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and professional students) throughout UC, including all campuses.

The objectives are to identify successful EL programs, practices, and approaches with UC campuses, to share this information among and beyond UC campuses through a written report, a “living” online directory, and a series of videos, and to help faculty, staff, students, and administrators enhance their knowledge and skills so they can develop, expand, enhance, and support EL opportunities throughout UC.

Examples of this subcommittee's work include:

Subcommittee on Research Catalogue

Co-leads: Katie Monsen (UCSC), Tom Tomich (UCD)

This project will catalogue UC research in sustainable agricultural processes and practices in order to build and strengthen networks among UC campuses and researchers, showcase UC achievements and programs, and ensure UC’s sustainable agriculture and food systems activities are accessible and useful. The subcommittee is developing a toolkit and briefing materials (catalog, web sites, photos, videos) for public stakeholders to locate relevant research/outreach taking place throughout the UC system and at the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

Subcommittee on Farmers’ Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Co-leads: Roane Akchurin (UCSB), Kirstin Yogg (UCSC)

This Best Practices subcommittee is working to establish regular farmers’ markets on all UC campuses to help provide access to locally grown, organic food to campus communities. As part of this effort, subcommittee member Amy Bolton developed an Overview of the Center for Agroecology CSA project, including the use of SNAP benefits to pay for CSA shares, for the committee’s work.

See Also