Anna Prizzia Food security pioneer

Anna Prizzia, Director of Field and Fork Program and Campus Food Systems Coordinator, is a pioneer of a sustainable food system at the University of Florida.

Prizzia’s passion for food is what started it all. “Early on in my career my interest was providing better access to food security and community of food, than the flipside of solving food insecurity,” said Prizzia. She received her Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from UF. During her time in school at UF through now, Prizzia discovered food access issues in Gainesville. She noticed a food secure west side and food insecure east side, with the university in the middle of it. She became passionate about investigating and implementing food system solutions and promoting institutional change.

In Prizzia’s previous role as Director of the Office of Sustainability, she led many projects and programs at UF to advance sustainable practices for water, energy, and transportation on campus. However, her passion for food still burned. Prizzia then worked with the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), as the coordinator of the statewide Farm to School program, which aimed to provide fresh, local, healthy food for the national school lunch program.

During her time with IFAS, Prizzia volunteered her time with the previous student gardens on campus, which were in the same location as the current Field and Fork gardens. The space was once a vibrant student garden, but was not easily maintained over time and UF felt there could be a better way to use the space. Prizzia studied and discussed food insecurity on campus with UF administration and IFAS Vice President, Dr. Jack Payne.

From there, Prizzia led the creation of the Field and Fork Farm and Gardens, allowing for the space to be maintained for student food production, and linked it with her work helping food security by providing produce to the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry. Field and Fork not only provides food for those in need but also teaches students about food security, sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Food security is when people have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food. However, many people find themselves not know where their next meal will come from and do not have access to healthy food. According to Prizzia, a solution to food insecurity is creating a sustainable agricultural food system.

“A sustainable food system is one that is circular, instead of linear. Instead of the take, make waste way dealing with things and our impacts are downstream. We are reinvesting to reduce those impacts but rethink the ways to make a circular system” said Prizzia

Field and Fork provides students experiential learning about food production through hands-on experience and challenging them to think critically about food systems. “We really want to get students hands in the dirt, literally,” said Prizzia.

“We really want to get students hands in the dirt, literally,” says Prizzia.

Students from any major have the opportunity to take classes that collaborate with the Field and Fork Program, get involved with affiliate clubs and participate in professional internships.

Food insecurity is an issue is local and global. However, programs like Field and Fork and leaders like Prizzia show that there are solutions to this problem.

“We can all work together to solve food insecurity within our community, that is what the program is really about. It's about educating future leaders and working with our current leaders to find those solutions" said Prizzia.

For more information on Field and Fork, please visit https://fieldandfork.ufl.edu

Savanna Ogburn is a senior majoring in agricultural education and communication, with a specialization in communication and leadership development. She is passionate about science communication because the importance of educating the public about agriculture and natural resources. She loves creating eye-catching multimedia projects with intelligible writing.

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Photos by Savanna Ogburn

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