Jennifer Gaddis Faculty

Jennifer Gaddis

Jane Rafferty Thiele Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor
Civil Society and Community Studies Department; Community and Nonprofit Leadership Major
Office 4251
The personal is political.

–1960s feminist movement

My research uses critical feminist and ecological lenses to examine the social, political, and economic organization of everyday life. As a transdisciplinary and action-oriented scholar, I use ethnographic, archival, and participatory research methods to move beyond critique to envision and advocate for a politics of the possible.

My first book, The Labor of Lunch: Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools, is a work of activist scholarship that centers the perspectives of school lunch activists and frontline cafeteria workers who are fighting for food justice in communities across the United States. My second book-length project draws on fieldwork in China, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and Finland to examine how civil society activism, corporate interests, and national policy priorities shape the social justice and ecological goals of government-sponsored school lunch programs. By uncovering how, when, and to what extent school lunch programs operate as a site of resistance to the status quo—in terms of advancing food sovereignty, just labor practices, and ecological sustainability—this research will offer insight into just how pervasive the social expectation that school lunch, and care more broadly, should be “cheap,” and what can be done to shift the conversation to a more generative space from which to collectively reimagine the social organization of care through public institutions.

In addition to this research on public-school lunch programs, I partner with graduate students in the Civil Society and Community Research program on several community-based projects related to food justice in urban communities and food sovereignty in Native communities.

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PhD, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
BS, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies
Havens-Wright Center for Social Justice
Center for Cooperatives
Center for Child and Family Well-being
School for Workers Labor Advisory Board
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
Slow Food UW (Faculty Advisor)

Social Media

Instagram: @JenniferEGaddis
Twitter: @JenniferEGaddis

Personal Website

Gaddis, Jennifer. The Labor of Lunch: Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools. University of California Press (2019).

Gaddis, Jennifer and Amy K. Coplen, “Reorganizing School Lunch for a More Just and Sustainable Food System in the US,” Feminist Economics 24, no. 3 (2018): 89-112.

Charles Z. Levkoe, Nathan Mclintock, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, Amy K. Coplen, Jennifer Gaddis, Joann Lo, Felipe Tendick-Matesanz, and Anelyse Weiler. “Forging Links Between Food Chain Labor Activists and Academics.” Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development 6, no. 2 (2016): 1-14.

Gaddis, Jennifer. “Mobilizing to Re-value and Re-skill Foodservice Labor in U.S. School Lunchrooms: A Pathway to Community-level Food Sovereignty?” Radical Teacher 98 (2014): 15-21.

Planning and Evaluation for Nonprofit Organizations (CSCS 345)

Community and Social Change (CSCS 125)

Human Ecology of Food and Sustainability (CSCS 375)

Community Innovations (CSCS 801)