Michaela Derby and Jackie Huddle were paired with Fresh Approach, a local non-profit focused on food education, food access, and food equity. Michaela and Jackie were asked to create documents that would “tell a more full story of food stamps. By telling the origin story of food stamps and destigmatizing the use of Calfresh/EBT at farmer’s markets, [they] hope to increase the California redemption rate and the consumption of fruits and veggies.” Throughout the quarter, the two Stanford seniors spent most weekends at farmer’s markets up and down the SF peninsula, gathering information, conducting interviews, and taking photos.
Michaela and Jackie’s final public project consists of multiple documents, including a website, a compelling op-ed, a well-researched fact sheet, and six short movies that center on different aspects of food stamps and Market Match. All of these documents serve to decenter and disrupt the single story of food stamp users and instead present a rich, multivocal narrative of the history of food stamps, who uses food stamps, where, and for how long. Their reflection on the course and the projects can be found in italics interspersed between their documents.
“We were tasked with telling a more holistic story of food stamps by crafting a counter story to deconstruct the common misconceptions about SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and CalFresh/EBT at farmers’ markets. This involved increasing transparency about the origin story of food stamps and where SNAP funding comes from today, as well spread awareness about using SNAP benefits at farmer’s markets. This took form through creating short videos, writing an op-ed, and developing PR facts and tidbits to deconstruct these misconceptions on SNAP and CalFresh/EBT.” – Michaela Derby
Below you will find their theory of change conceptualization, followed by their timeline of food stamps, their op-ed, fact sheet, followed by their short films. Each of these documents went through multiple revisions, with careful consideration paid to media, mode, audience, purpose. But more importantly, Michaela and Jackie wanted to position all voices equally, so each film has a mix of academic experts, farmer’s market managers, food justice warriors, and food stamp users.
“[T]his course has challenged my understanding of the role of rhetoric as a tool for social activism and change. As we discussed in class, charrettes provide a structure to perform professional and activist collaboration; they fold praxis and techne concerns together and combine civic responsibility and personal development. I see the rhetorical pieces Michaela and I developed this quarter to be educational awareness tools that prompt conversations by breaking down the commonly-held misconceptions of food stamps.” – Jackie Huddle
“Throughout the quarter, I had the opportunity to interact with many incredibly fascinating individuals. Each interview bolstered my practical wisdom and highlighted key insights for where Michaela and I needed to turn next for a fresh perspective. My favorite interview of the quarter was with Hilary Hoynes, a Berkeley Public Policy Professor, who took our project to a new height by speaking about SNAP on a evidence-based level. I loved hearing the perspectives from the market managers about EBT at their markets, however by learning about SNAP on a broader scale, I was able to understand the implications of our project, a very important aspect of our work in my opinion.” -Jackie Huddle
“This work has led me to rethink what it means to be a farmer, or food stamp user. Titles are so superficial. Now, when I imagine a farmer I have an image of Jay stuck in my head. Jay was always smiling at his stand, persuasively talking to consumers about his yellow, ripe Pomelos. Jay’s title is only a scratch on the surface, he is a hard worker and he is a food stamp user. We mustn’t let titles define those that we love and those that we are pushing policies for. This project has led me to dig deep- that’s where the story lies. Jackie and I conducted countless interviews and heard so many counter stories to the stigmatized food stamp story. Following any one of those interviews, ‘food stamp user’ is the last title I would give them. Throughout the ten weeks I knew there was value in interviewing food stamp users, but did not realize the true value until I begin reflecting on it. Those people have the most beautiful stories that I want to share with the world, but this is not how anti-food stamp users perceive these individuals. Jackie and I are in the minority.” – Michaela Derby
“Over the past few months, I have come to realize that being a community-engage learner means to wear multiple hats. I am a student, consultant, writer and editor, project manager, listener, team member, and citizen. Bowden and Scott suggest that service learners are afforded the opportunity to develop multiple skillsets through community-engaged learning. For me this has been evident in many ways: as a student in a small class I have spoken up and asked more questions than usual, as a consultant I have balanced my vision for the project with our community partner’s, as a rhetorician I have contemplated how to tell a convincing narrative through the use of strategies like counter story, as a project manager I have scheduled meetings and drawn strategic plans, as a listener I have used charettes to conduct interviews and listen to encompassing perspectives, as a team member I have collaborated with my student partner, and as a citizen I have developed a product for the greater good of my community.” -Jackie Huddle
“Breuch and Ratcliffe suggest that active listening is the most crucial skill in a service learning project, which I did find very important in our project. I also discovered that knowing what questions to ask is also a critical aspect of service learning. Because Michaela and I did not come into our project with phronesis related to food stamps/the Farm Bill/stigmas of EBT at farmer’s markets, by designing interview questions to strategically get at these ideas we became better informed overtime.” – Jackie Huddle
“As a student, gardener, and South Dakotan, I carry with me the knowledge of how SNAP functions and attaches stigma to its users. SNAP is SO interconnected with our food system, gaining the program substantial potential that can be harnessed in ways that the PCFMA has worked toward. Market Match is a step in the right direction, but will never be scalable to all of our low-income communities. I want to follow the progress and am excited to see how my future career crosses paths with my community engaged learning again.” – Michaela Derby