Feature: Berkeley Food Institute

This month we interviewed Nathalie Muñoz from the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) to learn about the amazing work they are doing right in our backyard. Based in Berkeley, CA, this 10-year old organization focuses on policy, research, education, career development and community programs to shape a just and equitable food system. Read on to learn more about this inspiring organization!


Nathalie Muñoz, Community Engagement Program Manager

Please tell us your name and your role at the Berkeley Food Institute.

Nathalie Muñoz, Community Engagement Program Manager and I’ve been with BFI since fall of 2019. 

What is the mission of the Berkeley Food Institute? 

Berkeley Food Institute leverages UC Berkeley’s resources to shape a just California Food System. Our mission areas include rural and urban agroecology, good food access, fair and healthy jobs, and racial equity in the food system that lay the foundation to our research, education, policy, and community engagement programs. 

How do you engage students and young people in your initiatives (in addition to all the other stakeholders)? 

We believe in keeping public education public and that everyone deserves the opportunity to become more informed and active members of their communities. That’s why for students and really any person looking to connect to professional development and jobs we publish a weekly Food Systems Opportunities newsletter. We facilitate the UC Berkeley Graduate Certificate in Food Systems.  We also host several free virtual and in-person events for students and the public looking to expand their knowledge about the food system. You can see some of our previous events on our youtube page. 

What are you working on now that you are most excited about? 

I’m very excited about our community engagement and policy work related to SB 1000, otherwise known as the Planning for Healthy Community Act. We’re going to meet with communities, city planners, and policymakers across California; this law has made significant progress through community-led engagement and action. We’ll kick off this year with meetings in Richmond as well as the UC Center for Sacramento in October.  

What does the BFI plan to work on in the coming months/years? 

We’re also excited to expand our career program to dig deeper into workforce development for students interested in valuebased supply chains within the Organic sector. We’re going to take students on several site tours, including one to Veritable Vegetable, host career panels, and offer an Organic Value-based Supply Chains course taught by faculty at Haas School of Business. 

Have you worked on any initiatives that have to do specifically with food distribution? 

Yes, absolutely! We’ve had many research projects and events related to food distribution within the context of urban agriculture. You can see more of our work around that here. We also support Berkeley Student Farms, a student-led organization born during the early days of the pandemic that coordinated food distribution from the Oxford Tract research field to the UC Berkeley Food Pantry. 

How can local community members get involved? 

Anyone is welcome to sign up for both our weekly Food Systems Opportunities and monthly BFI News & Events newsletters. Either newsletter will keep you abreast of the latest UC Berkeley food systems research as well as upcoming events we have in store for this year. 

We’re always open to learning about what’s going on around the SF Bay Area and beyond so feel free to reach out at foodinstitute@berkeley.edu with any questions or comments! 

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