Tarana Bhargava, Johnson & Wales University Internship (Summer 2023)

Reflections on Summer Internship

My name is Tarana Bhargava, and I am entering my second year as a NICBC student. I completed my summer internship at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island as a Food Systems Curriculum Intern. I collaborated with the Dean of the College of Innovation & Technology to recreate a curriculum platform on food systems that is applicable to high school teachers and students in Rhode Island and eventually is aimed to be implemented across the nation. Initially, my role was to update the current curriculum set in place which was composed of production, processing, distribution, and consumer units.

However, after researching we found that John Hopkins already had a concrete food systems curriculum platform in place – FoodSpan. At this point, we decided to redirect the task at hand and develop a curriculum that would be complementary to FoodSpan instead. While FoodSpan covered the fundamentals of food systems, I thought we could focus on identifying the True Cost of Food components, which highlights the health, economic, social, and environmental costs of how the food system operates. My internship was focused on developing an introduction to the U.S food system and what the four different costs specifically entail. I then compiled case studies that were best practices for addressing these deep-rooted issues. As a NICBC student, I found it both interesting and challenging to breakdown and simplify such a complex topic so that the information was digestible for high school students and for teachers that might not have any knowledge on the topic. I appreciated the opportunity to strengthen my own knowledge on food systems, especially in the United States context and I valued the importance of initiating communication, especially in a remote working space, which ensured I was on the same page and timeline as my colleagues. While there is still more work to be done for the curriculum to be complete, the internship was a good starting point to build a strong foundation and direction for the project. I was honored to work on an initiative that will educate young individuals on the food industry – a gap that needs to be filled and hopefully it will spark enough interest in them to get involved in the movement or even just make better personal decisions in their daily life in terms of what they are eating.