Philadelphia Summer Internship 2022: Gloria Cheng, W’26, Nu’26

I’m a dual-degree major in Nursing and Healthcare Management Program with a minor in nutrition. This summer, I worked as a Food Justice and Farming Intern at the Penn and Food Wellness Collaborative (PFWC) with funding through the Philadelphia Summer Internship Award.

The Penn Food and Wellness Collaborative is a new initiative that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from across campus to address issues of food insecurity, wellness, food systems education, and environmental sustainability.

I’ve always had joy and curiosity for food, but I felt very unaware: of where it comes from, the people that produce it, the labor it requires, and the barriers to access. This internship seemed like the perfect opportunity to help me learn more about food, food justice, food systems, equity, and wellness.

Throughout the internship, my time was mainly split between the Penn Park Farm and Orchard and the Wellness office. At the farm, I collaborated with a team of five to plant, maintain, harvest, wash and distribute approximately 1600 pounds of produce to three distribution centers focused on relieving food insecurity for students, HUP employees, and Philadelphia community members. It was extremely rewarding to see the fruits of my labor (literally!) grow before my eyes.

At the office, I worked on creating slides to introduce students to food justice, a food justice glossary, and generating social media content. Every week I completed readings and engaged in discussions on topics: food apartheid, food sovereignty, food systems, politics of land, regenerative agriculture, soil, food policy, Black agrarianism, and Indigenous beliefs/practices. Although I am far from an expert, my understanding of regenerative agriculture practices, why our food system is the way it is, and the systemic injustice and disparities in food access and health outcome has come miles from where I began. Farming with this knowledge and context further challenged me to think more critically about food systems.

From participating in discussions with my hands in the dirt to harvesting crops to organizing distributions with local communities, this summer has reaffirmed my passion for food, community, and food justice.