Jen Zuckerman served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the WFPC from 2017-2023, managed all WFPC work rooted in North Carolina. Jen came to the WFPC after eleven years at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Jen was instrumental in the development of the "Power & Benefit on the Plate: The History of Food in Durham, North Carolina" history report. She supervised students in research to develop the "Food Justice Case Study: Communities in Partnership" report, the "Identifying and Countering White Supremacy Culture in Food Systems" research brief, and the "How Innovative CDFIs Fund Equitable Food Oriented Development" report. She organized the Rooted in Relationship: Power & Privilege in Food Systems conference in collaboration with Equitable Food Oriented Development, Communities in Partnership, and the Sanford School of Public Policy. And, she organized the Examining Whiteness in Food Systems webinar, focusing on whiteness and food systems narratives.
Jen joined the BCBSNC Foundation in June 2006, where for ten years she served as the Senior Program Officer for Healthy Living, focusing on increasing access to safe active environments and on providing sources for healthy, locally sourced food, with a commitment to early childhood development and food systems. In her most recent role with the Foundation, she served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships, which focused on spread and scale of best practice in healthy living initiated in North Carolina as well as bringing resources outside of North Carolina into the state for the benefit of improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. Prior to the Foundation, Jen administered federal and state grants at NC State University’s Recreation Resources Service where she worked with parks and recreation agencies across the state to help develop partnerships for the benefit of community health. Jen has also worked in a cross section of North Carolina nonprofits.
She has served as the Chair of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems Advisory Board, Vice-Chair of the National Academies of Medicine Early Childhood Innovation Collaborative, co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders Network and on the Board of Directors of the Triangle Land Conservancy and Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation. Jen has also served on the Steering Committee for the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force and the Statewide Prevention Task Force. She earned her undergraduate and masters degrees from NC State University in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management.
Research at the WFPC
North Carolina Food System Resilience Strategy
This project focuses on North Carolina and contextualizes the current moment against the historical landscape. The audience for this project is philanthropy. As a group with substantial power, it asks how philanthropy can be a partner to address some of the most entrenched inequities. How, in other words, can philanthropy help create more equity and resiliency in the North Carolina food system? We present a summary of how the NC philanthropic community engages with the food system. This summation was developed through surveys and interviews of members of the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers to identify the strategies of in-state organizations. The Critical Actions named in this report are the result of a year-long process, led by food justice leaders from rural, urban, and peri-urban communities across North Carolina. While we envision a just, resilient, and equitable network of locally controlled community food systems in North Carolina, we wish to emphasize that no individual funder nor organization will be able to achieve that vision by themselves.
Convening Report: Our Collective Next Steps in Food & Faith Work
In partnership with Duke Divinity School and the Rural Church Program Area of The Duke Endowment, the Duke World Food Policy Center (WFPC) hosted a Food & Faith Convening in Durham, North Carolina November 12-13, 2018. A group of expert practitioners, academics, funders, and non-profit professionals guided the WFPC team in convening design and implementation. Forty-six individuals participated in the convening. The convening discussions identified several themes that drive the work of faith communities: moving from charity to justice, food sovereignty, and equitable food-oriented development; moving from charity to justice for the land & environment; the need for bridging and relationship building between practitioners, funders, and the academy; and the need for bridging between faith communities and policy. Additionally, several academic themes for future research were identified focused on cross-faith comparative analysis and the broad impact of faith community-based food systems work.
Charlotte Food & Social Mobility Summit
In May 2019, The Duke Endowment, Novant Health and the Winer Family Foundation co-sponsored the Charlotte Food & Social Mobility Summit. The event was facilitated by the World Food Policy Center at Duke. The purpose of the event was to start conversations to bridge economic mobility and food in Charlotte, building on the momentum and on-the ground action already taking place in the Charlotte Metro Area. This one-day event was intended to spur new conversations, catalyze new relationships, and begin to drive the conversation to efforts that build community ownership and generational wealth through food-aligning food sovereignty and economic mobility. The presentations grounded attendees in a historic perspective, to explain how the policies and practices that have created the racial wealth gap are still affecting Charlotte communities today.