Sally Geislar

GFI Fellow - Class of 2015

Undergraduate Student, Planning, Policy and Design
UC Irvine


Local Food Access and Advocacy: Cultivating Town and Gown Synergies


This project seeks to engage students and the community with food systems, access and research in and around UC Irvine. Inspired by the relocation of the most successful farmers market in the county that serves the UC Irvine community, this project conducted a stakeholder assessment before and after the move, hosted a public forum about concerns and opportunities in the new location, compiled a brief on how universities can link learning with federal programs to improve financial access to food at farmers markets, and hosted a workshop on cultivating food research community at UC Irvine.

View poster (PDF)


The project has three outcomes related to achieving goals of engaging UC Irvine with the broader community on issues related to local food access. These outcomes are: 1) promote stakeholder participation,2) understand how relocation affects access to local food for students and community members and engage students with local food providers, and 3) empower advocate scholars on food issues.

Future Plans

Related to the food stamps and farmers market:

  • Establishing an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program at the Irvine Farmers Market to serve the significant low-income population both at the university and attracted to the area for the large church that is now the host of the market.
  • Establishing a field study in the School of Social Ecology and linking with other community-engagement requirements for students to manage the EBT booth at the farmers market. Students will gain hands-on experience and real-world insight into food insecurity while reducing burdens for the market manager
  • Establishing a farmers market shuttle route to bring students, faculty and community members to the market to reduce transportation barriers and emissions from single passenger cars
  • Continue exploring opportunities for farmers markets in the state of California to adopt EBT or the market match program based on GIS mapping data used to highlight which markets are in closest proximity to populations using EBT.

Related to the workshop:

  • Participants will reconvene with a session on food research at UC Irvine at a UC systemwide conference through the UC Irvine Blum Center in November whose organizing focus will be food.
  • We will create a UC Irvine food works map to identify the diversity of disciplines represented.
  • I am currently also seeking an interdisciplinary journal through which a special issue on UC Irvine food research could be organized.


Dave Feldman