2017 Tufts Food Systems Symposium Participants

Groups and organizations participating in the lunch discussions and expo session include:


Mark Alston-Follansbee, Executive Director, Somerville Homeless Coalition (panel discussion)  As the Executive Director of the Somerville Homeless Coalition for the past 16 years, Mark oversees programs that serve over 2,000 people each year. Among the Coalition’s projects are food assistance, permanent housing, shelter for individuals and families, and homeless prevention. Prior to the Somerville Homeless Coalition, Mark worked with homeless people at Shelter, Inc. and the City of Cambridge, and he credits his experience as a Vietnam War veteran with providing him insight into the particular challenges of homelessness and trauma. Beyond addressing emergency needs, he has worked to build alliances for food security and permanent, affordable housing as the answer to hunger and homelessness.

Megan Lehnerd, PhD Candidate in Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (panel discussion)  Megan’s dissertation research at the Friedman School sits at the nexus of agriculture, food access, and public health, as she focuses on the perspective of and impacts on both farmers and schools participating in farm to school programs. Megan has worked on several research projects at the Friedman School that promote healthy food access for children and families and has supported local efforts trying to improve Boston area school meals. Prior to her time in Boston, Megan managed a gleaning program and two community gardens as an Assistant Food Bank Director in Southern Colorado and led nutrition education and food access efforts for children and families in her positions at both the SLV Early Head Start Program and the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition. She is currently a Newman’s Own Foundation Doctoral Fellow at the Friedman School, where she also earned her M.S. in Nutrition from the Agriculture, Food, and Environment program.

Winton Pitcoff, Director, MA Food System Collaborative (panel discussion)  Winton oversees the MA Food System Collaborative in its efforts to support an equitable and sustainable food system in Massachusetts. The Collaborative was established in 2016 to promote, monitor and facilitate the implementation of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan, which was accepted by the State in 2015. Working with nonprofit trade and advocacy groups, businesses, academics, and policymakers, the group focuses on increasing Massachusetts food production, boosting economic opportunities in food and agriculture, protecting natural resources, and reducing hunger and food insecurity. Winton’s passion for connecting food policy, community development and agriculture stems from years of work in affordable housing and community development, on farms, and at many agricultural policy advocacy and trade organizations. He holds a Master’s of Science in City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.

Sasha Purpura, Executive Director, Food for Free (keynote session)  After years of work in the corporate world, Sasha got her MBA in Sustainability and changed career paths which ultimately led to her position at Food for Free, a hunger relief organization “bridging the gap between waste and want” in Cambridge and the greater Boston area. Sasha believes in the power of building partnerships between Food for Free and community institutions, grassroots organizations, and other individuals and groups who share a common mission. A natural and charismatic leader, experienced businesswoman, and engaged community member, Sasha is a well-respected hunger-relief advocate invested in reducing “wasted food” and increasing food security in Cambridge and surrounding communities.

Doug Rauch, Founder and President, Daily Table (keynote speaker)  Two years ago, Doug Rauch opened the doors to the Daily Table in Dorchester, Massachusetts. As President of this innovative  nonprofit grocery store, Doug capitalizes on food surplus while addressing food insecurity in a strategically dignified way. He conceived the concept for the store as an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University after developing extensive retail experience at Trader Joe’s. He dedicated 31 years to Trader Joe’s, 14 of which he served as President, and successfully built their national brand. Doug has plans to expand the Daily Table in the Boston area and to cities across the country; his work at the Daily Table is just the start of his commitment to make wholesome food affordable and available for all.

Norbert Wilson, Professor of Food Policy, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (panel discussion) A new member of the Tufts University faculty, Norbert Wilson is an expert in the field of behavior economics and has conducted extensive research on date labels’ influence on consumer choice and food waste. He examines how applying behavioral economic “nudges” can support selection of healthier options at food pantries and the overall decomposition of food security with time. Norbert developed his body of work as a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Auburn University, as a Trade Policy Analyst/Economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Trade Directorate, and as Agricultural Directorate at the OECD.