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Purpose Prize Fellow 2010
Romer is recruiting thousands of New Yorkers to come together as a community to create a sustainable system that yields healthy, locally grown and affordable food.
Nancy Romer, a psychology professor at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, has long focused on social change. During a 2006-2007 sabbatical spent volunteering in hurricane-devastated Louisiana – and then traveling to Bolivia to experience grassroots food activism firsthand – Romer became inspired to transform the way people produce, distribute and consume food.
Back at home, she organized 300 neighbors to launch a community-based food conference addressing problems with the current food system, which contributes to climate change and health problems, such as obesity and diabetes.
More than 3,000 people attended the 2009 Brooklyn Food Conference, which launched the Brooklyn Food Coalition. The conference offered more than 60 workshops aimed at attracting support for community gardens, food cooperatives, farmers’ markets, local farms, composting and policy change. The Brooklyn Food Coalition went on to work with New York’s city council to increase the consumption of locally grown food. In addition, the coalition has organized parent groups to improve school lunches and has collected thousands of signatures to support a more robust federal children’s health bill.
In April 2010, Romer met with First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss solutions to childhood obesity and health problems, and she has sparked companion food conferences in two other New York boroughs: Queens and the Bronx.
“I will continue to seek out ways to use my talents, resources and skills to bring people together, create community and build democratic movements for social change,” says Romer.