A Different Type of Foodie
It took Justina Robinson, a rising senior at the University of California Berkeley, some time to discover her passion.
After countless internships and professional experiences, Robinson discovered the Berkeley Food Institute.
“I feel a connection to their mission and purpose,” Robinson said.
The 20-year-old is a double major in political science and anthropology. Robinson saw herself attending law school upon the completion of her undergraduate degree. But like so many other students, 2020 changed Robinson’s path. Robinson’s interest in environmental and social justice issues led her to the Berkeley Food Institute. The Bay Area organization’s commitment to accessibility and awareness to food security and awareness was appealing to Robinson.
She knew she had to join their cause.
Since September 2020, Robinson has been the communication assistant for the Berkeley Food Institute. She plays a major role in the organization’s communication strategies, through her management of their social media accounts, website, and newsletters. Robinson has the independence to create content for the Berkeley Food Institute. She accomplishes this by combining what she learns inside and outside of the classrooms of UC Berkeley.
“I like how I can translate what I learn in class to work,” Robinson said.
Although much of Robinson’s work occurs behind the scenes, her commitment to food advocacy and food worker’s rights remains unwavering.
Upon joining the team, Robinson immediately began to work on the organization’s “Take Out The Vote” campaign. Through the promotion of digital and physical posters, Robinson provided workers in the food industry with directions on how to register to vote and request an absentee ballot.
“[Food Workers] may not have time to go home and do the specific research they need to do on how to register to vote,” Robinson said.
Grocery store employees and food delivery workers benefited from the colorful posters that Robinson helped promote throughout the Bay Area. She finds value in helping those who are often taken for granted.
Robinson believes it is important for people to know who is behind the harvesting and growing of food in America.
“It’s a demographic that is often overlooked… We get the food from the grocery store and never question how we got it or where it came from,” Robinson said.
The high cost of living in the Bay Area and lack of proper pay in America’s food industry is a major concern to Robinson. The coronavirus pandemic has only made matters worse, in Robinson’s opinion. While there is much work that needs to be done, Robinson is glad that 2020 started important conversations about food workers and the greater industry.
Nothing is stopping Robinson’s creativity in solving these problems.
Her weekly “Food Systems Opportunity” newsletters provide the community with local job opportunities. Robinson hopes to continue to educate her peers and the greater Bay Area alongside the Berkeley Food Institute. She’s grateful to be another voice contributing to a team that she aligns with.
Robinson speaks with a sense of excitement of her potential to socially motivate others.
“I feel very empowered as a student.”