This past Friday, the Chatham University hosted a panel discussion entitled the ‘The Business of Food”. The panel consisted of three women who are actively contributing to Pittsburgh’s local food community, Alice Julier, Josephine Oria, and Jennifer Flanagan.
Dr. Alice Julier is the director of the Food Studies Graduate program at Chatham University. She has studied many components of the food system, but has focused on food inequality and food access. Her contribution to this panel was making connections between the everyday life of food, and the academic communities perception of food culture. When the panel was asked to describe how their businesses are sustainable, Dr. Julier helped to frame the question by outlining the three basic tenants of sustainability, the environment, social justice, and development. This outline structured the answers from the panelists and brought clarity to a word that is often misinterpreted.
Josephine Oria is the owner of La Dorita, which produces Dulce de Leche spreads and liquors, as well as runs an incubator kitchen. Josephine spoke of the difficulties involved with starting a business, and the challenges presented with working locally and sustainably. Her incubator kitchens can be rented by the hour, and create a certified kitchen space for food entrepreneurs to develop their products.
Jennifer Flanagan is the CEO of Springboard Kitchen, which rescues discarded fresh food, distributes prepared meals to food insecure people, and provides placement in the food service industry for people with employment barriers. Jennifer spoke passionately about the importance of providing fresh healthy food to all people, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or income bracket.
The three women who participated in this panel were incredibly inspiring. Their stories all contained many barriers but have ended in achieving the success they desired.