The Tisch Food Center is thrilled to welcome Andrew Barrett, MS as Food Ed Hub Director. In this role, Andrew partners with food education organizations and other stakeholders across New York City to support collaboration, coordination, and policy advocacy. Learn more about Andrew’s professional interests and what he is looking forward to working on at the center in this introductory interview.
Please tell us a little about your background and professional interests.
After college, I served with AmeriCorps in Knoxville, TN, leading environmental education programming that included cafeteria composting and school gardening. My service in schools cultivated my excitement and appreciation for gardening and the power of hands-on learning. Since then, I have spent my career studying and working in food access and education both in the U.S. and abroad. I have had the privilege to work and learn together with emergency food providers, farmers, non-profit leaders, and teachers, which has given me invaluable experience across many contexts of our complex food system. Since moving to NYC in 2009, most of my work has been focused on food and garden education. I have been so amazed by the parents, teachers, custodians, and other school and non-profit program staff who work hard every day to make hands-on food education an integral part of their students' experiences at school. I look forward to continuing to support this effort with the Tisch Food Center and all of our Food Ed Coalition partners as we collaborate on resources, programming, and policy that will elevate and grow this important work.
What do you see as some of the biggest issues in food and nutrition education right now?
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic began and laid bare the tremendous health inequity in our nation, we have known that our food system does not serve everyone, and especially low-income families and communities of color. The economic and geographic barriers to healthy food access and education have to be dismantled. Currently, on the federal level, there are provisions like Community Eligibility in the Build Back Better Act that, if included, could expand access to free school meals for millions of students. Here in NYC, where my work is focused, we know from our A is for Apple report in 2018 that nearly half of NYC students do not receive any external nutrition education programs in school. This data helped inspire the creation of the Food Ed Coalition, where we are working to address this inequity through increased collaboration and policy advocacy. Our Mayor-Elect Eric Adams has long been a champion of healthy food access and education, and we look forward to the progress that we can make together on this issue.
What are you most excited about working at the Tisch Food Center?
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the team here at the Tisch Food Center, not only for my own growth and learning among this incredible community but also to continue this work alongside our amazing partners across NYC. Every day, these champions are cultivating joy and learning through food, and as the mission of the Food Ed Hub states, working "to ensure that all NYC students have quality food and nutrition education and sustainably-produced, culturally-responsive, healthy school food." It is a privilege to be a part of that.
To learn more about Andrew and his work, check out his bio on our About page.