Jennifer Gaddis

Doctoral Candidate

Photo of Jennifer Gaddis


Mailing Address
Yale School of Forestry &
Environmental Studies
195 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511



M.Phil Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Jennifer is a PhD candidate at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where she works at the intersection of food studies and environmental sociology. Her research on the evolution of food, labor, and technology within the National School Lunch Program provides a holistic window into the complexity of food systems, how they’re formed and how they change over time. Historical analysis centers around the state of being “Fit to Feed,” insofar as it encompasses issues of ‘what’ is fit to feed (i.e. the shifting nature of foodstuffs in terms of their effects on both the human body and the broader ecology) and ‘who’ is fit to do the feeding (i.e. bringing into question the gendering of foodservice labor and shifting job characteristics). Contemporary analysis focuses on instances of scratch cooking and farm-to-school programming. Her research relies on a mixed-methods approach including participant observation, archival research, interviews, content analysis, and quantitative survey research. She hopes to turn her dissertation into a general audience book aimed at sparking collective activism around the issue of school meals. Her broader research and teaching areas include consumption and sustainability, labor and the environment, and food studies.

She earned a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with minors in Environmental Studies and International Engineering from the University of Illinois. At Illinois, Jennifer researched thin film solar cells, contributed to the design of undergraduate and graduate level sustainability-themed courses, and served as a key organizer for campus sustainability initiatives. Through her position at Yale’s Teaching Center, Jennifer remained a strong advocate for problem-based inquiry and experiential environmental education. Her volunteer work with Cooking Matters and the Yale Sustainable Food Project provides experiential food and farming education to New Haven families. She also mentors young food and agriculture scholars in Yale’s Food, Culture, and Environment working group, which she co-founded and currently leads. In addition, she engages in collaborative research with UNITE HERE, the largest North American labor union representing foodservice workers.  Throughout her career, Jennifer hopes to remain deeply engaged in solving environmental problems through innovative teaching, research, and activism in her local community.