Research & Community Engagement

2020 Urban Food Sovereignty Summit


tuesday, october 20, 2020
1:00 - 5:00 p.m

Flyer for the Summit

watch the recorded summit

Viewers will learn about and explore challenges and opportunities related to urban food sovereignty in contemporary culture and in the Tampa Bay Region. 


keynote speakers

Todd Levasseur

Todd Levasseur, Ph.D., graduated from the College of Charleston in 1997 and received his doctorate in the study of religion and nature from the University of Florida in 2011.  His training equips him to examine and study the interface of cultural narratives and identities, with a specific focus on those in the domain we label religion, and how these both shape and are shaped by the natural, “more-than-human” world. His work is thoroughly interdisciplinary, while being comparative and historical in scope and method. The overarching research question that guides his scholarly path is how can the human animal, from the individual to global scales, learn to actively generate just, regenerative, and sustainable behaviors and lifeways as we move into the Anthropocene, if at all?  This question motivates the courses he teaches in religious studies, environmental and sustainability studies, the First Year Experience, and the Honors College.  It also motivates my research, including my forthcoming book from Lexington Press titled Climate Change, Religion, and Our Bodily Future

Heewon Gray

Heewon L. Gray, Ph.D., RDN, is an assistant professor at the College of Public Health, University of South Florida, and a member of the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group. Her primary research focuses on nutrition education intervention to prevent obesity in children and adolescents as well as community-based participatory research to improve systems and policy around food in underserved communities. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Gray has been involved in various nutrition intervention projects to reduce obesity prevalence, promote healthy lifestyles among youth, and support sustainable food systems, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture among others. 

presenters & panelists

Kerry Babb

Kerry Babb is an accomplished future-forward professional with multiple-faceted international experiences. As a consultant he has worked in North, Central and South America; Europe; Africa and the Caribbean. He is a master problem-solver with a keen analytical eye for detail, propelled by a Mathematical background and Actuarial training. Kerry has excelled in the Sustainability, Technology, Project Development and Project Management space working with organizations like AT&T, Bank of New York, Salomon Brothers, Arthur Andersen Consulting, JP Morgan, JP Morgan, Caribbean Development Bank, and Paradise Technology Solutions and the U.S. Department of Energy. He has previously functioned as Co-Chairman of the Sustainability Committee of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.  As an International Sustainability and Resilience Consultant, Kerry is a part of the Clinton Global Initiative collaborating on re-development and recovery solutions for Caribbean countries in the aftermath of major crises in the region. His career transformations evolved from an Analytical Mathematician to Information Technology Consultant, now Smart Cities Consultant designing and developing Circular and Sustainable Food Systems among other aspects of Smart and Sustainable Cities. Kerry is currently working on Smart Agriculture projects in Iceland, Sweden, the Caribbean, and the U.S.

Raleigh Barnes

Raleigh Barnes has been gardening for over 20 years and worked extensively with tropical/ subtropical edibles, Florida endemic species and epiphytes. He attributes his working plant knowledge to his father, permaculture mentors, numerous books, and direct hands-on design experience with his company, Third Insight Design. Belonging to numerous plant clubs and societies, Raleigh has created the Apollo Beach Garden Club and is actively working with the Club to create a Community Forest Garden space at the Apollo Beach Recreation Center. He plans to continue to create productive landscapes, expand their plant inventory, and deliver meaningful experiential educational courses, workshops, and seminars. Raleigh ultimately plans to move to Costa Rica and live off of the grid in an intentionally designed space that incorporates permaculture and analog forestry. 

TH Culhane

T.H. Culhane, Ph.D., is the Director of the Climate Change concentration at the Patel College of Global Sustainability at USF. He teaches courses in the Food and Climate concentrations. He is also the co-founding director of the not-for-profit educational corporation "Solar CITIES Inc.," which helps community stakeholders solve urban ecology and development issues surrounding waste-water, solid waste, food security and decentralized clean energy production. Dr. Culhane is the Program Director at the Rosebud Continuum Sustainability Education Center in Pasco County where he lives off grid and conducts research on biodigesters, renewable energy, and regenerative agriculture.  

Dell deChant

Dell deChant is Associate Chair of the Depart- ment of Religious Studies at USF.  He is a Master Instructor and has served at USF since 1986. The author of three books, over forty articles, and chapters in twelve books, deChant's specialization is religion and contemporary cultures. His current research focuses on religious, literary, and ecological expressions of Agrarianism as they manifest in American popular culture.  deChant is Chair of the Environmental Committee of the City of New Port Richey, the Convener of the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group, a founding member of Food Policy Council of Pasco County, and a member of the Florida Food Policy Council and Ecology Florida's Board of Directors. 

Joseph Dorsey

Joseph W. Dorsey, Ph.D., is Associate Professor, Director of the Food Sustainability and Security Concentration, Director of the Academic Capstone Experience (ACE), and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) at USF.  As a student at Howard University, he completed his bachelor's in Human Ecology with a concentration in human nutrition and food, and his master's in International Development.  He worked as a clinical nutritionist in Africa and the Caribbean, and as a public health professional in the U.S., before completing his doctorate at the University of Michigan in Natural Resources and Environment. His doctoral dissertation was entitled, “Community-Based Activism within an Environmental Justice Frame: The Siting of a Waste-to-Energy Facility in Flint-Genesee County.”  Dr. Dorsey is an experienced educator in the interdisciplinary fields of environmental justice, urban ecology, and sustainability science. He has held faculty positions at Michigan State University, Miami University of Ohio, and USF – St Petersburg. He has worked extensively with community groups on social and environmental issues in Detroit, Flint, Cincinnati, and St. Petersburg. His research interests include: brownfield redevelopment; urban agriculture; corporate social responsibility and sustainability management; residential lawn, yard and xeriscaping practices; and community economic empowerment initiatives such as neighborhood gardens, vertical farms, and hydroponic growing operations.

Lupe Gonzalo

Lupe Gonzalo is a staff member and leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). A farmworker herself, Ms. Gonzalo has over 12 years of experience working in the fields of Florida. As part of the Fair Food Program, Ms. Gonzalo and her colleagues conduct worker-to-worker education sessions on human rights in the fields on all farms participating in the program. Ms. Gonzalo’s work at the CIW includes hosting daily radio shows on the CIW’s low-power community FM radio station, leading the weekly women’s group meetings, receiving complaints of abuses in the fields, managing wage theft claims, and investigating cases of sexual violence and modern-day slavery. Finally, Ms. Gonzalo represents the CIW at a national level, speaking publicly on the challenges faced by farmworkers in Florida, both during major demonstrations with thousands of consumers and in dozens of presentations throughout the year.

Brooke Hansen

Brooke Hansen, Ph.D., is an anthropologist with specialties in food systems, sustainable tourism, indigenous studies, and gender. Her research covers food sovereignty in indigenous communities and colonized spaces, community-based agriculture and food systems, and leveraging the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  She serves as the Director of Sustainable Tourism at the Patel College of Global Sustainability and as the Director of the SDG Action Alliance at USF. Dr. Hansen is a member of the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group, the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, and the Tampa Bay Governing Council.

David Himmelgreen

David Himmelgreen, Ph.D., is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Advancement of Food Security & Healthy Communities at USF. He is a biocultural nutritional anthropologist with expertise in maternal-child nutrition, growth and development, food security, dietary change and health, and community nutrition programming.  He has conducted research in Costa Rica, Lesotho, India, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.  Since 2015, he has participated in multiple projects addressing food insecurity in Tampa Bay.  Dr. Himmelgreen has published more than 90 articles, book chapters, and edited volumes and has received funding from the NSF, USDA, NIH, Fulbright Commission, UNICEF, state agencies, and private and corporate entities involved in reducing hunger and food insecurity.

Annie Jimenez

Annie Jiménez grew up in a multicultural family in Costa Rica. Since a young age she has spent many hours outdoors observing and playing with animals and plants. Little did she know this childhood devotion to spiders and trees, as well as her periodical trips to the farmers market with her dad, would spark her instinct to grow, taste, cook and preserve food. Annie has diversified her skills from cooking, to eating, designing, crafting, growing, drawing and building. She enjoys working with her hands and seeing happiness in people’s eyes when they eat her food. Annie makes it a point to bring different perspectives to the table every day. She will continue to work on what she believes is her responsibility -- creating better relationships between humans and nonhumans, improving the ways humans nurture themselves and the  earth, and leading a lifestyle of everyday accomplishments.

Rob Marlowe

Rob Marlowe is the mayor of New Port Richey, Florida, where he has been a resident since 1963. A native Floridian, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College, and an MBA from the University of Florida. He is co-owner of Gulfcoast Networking, a computer tech business located in downtown New Port Richey since early 2003. Rob is currently serving his third consecutive term as mayor, having first been elected in 2014. Prior to serving as mayor, Rob served as member of the City Council from 2007 to 2013. Under Rob’s leadership, New Port Richey expanded its commitment to urban agrarianism and the development of sustainable food systems – which has its roots in pioneering projects dating back to the 1990s.  Included in the City’s commitment to local food sovereignty are an urban agriculture ordinance, a community garden ordinance, a public seed library, a farmer’s market, and support of four local food festivals. Recently, Rob championed the City’s membership in the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Rob’s leadership exemplifies the way pro-active commitment from municipal government can support and advance food sovereignty.   

Gabriel Morgan

The Rev. Dr. Gabriel Morgan is the pastor of the Lutheran Urban Parish of Tampa, which consists of St. Paul Lutheran Church, the oldest continuously existing Lutheran Church in Tampa, and Faith Lutheran Church, which is home to the GIFT Center Garden. He is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he received a Master of Divinity degree and the Hitchcock Prize for excellence in historical theology. He received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, which is now called United Lutheran Seminary. His dissertation was on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Paul Ricoeur, and he has presented on this and related research at several conferences, including the American Academy of Religion. Originally from Tampa, Gabriel is also a proud alumnus of USF with a bachelor's in philosophy and much love for the Department of Religious Studies. He and his wife Erin live in Southeast Seminole Heights.

Monica Patrella

Monica Petrella  is a passionate advocate for regional food systems in her role as the Food System Program Cooridinator for Hillsborough County. She first learned about the power of regional economic systems while attending the Small Farms Conference hosted by UF IFAS in 2012. She attended the University of Florida where she graduated with her B.S. in Food and Resource Economics supplemented with a minor in Organic and Sustainable Crop Production. She later attended the University of Vermont to earn a M.S. in Community Development and Applied Economics, specializing in Community Food Systems. Through her work on small farms, community gardens, and in farm-to-table restaurants, she has met a variety of stakeholders in the Tampa Bay Food System. Before starting her position with Hillsborough County, she was active in community organizing and political advocacy.

Will Schanbacher

Will Schanbacher, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at USF. His research interests concentrate on religious and social ethics with a focus on the global food system and globalization and poverty. He is the author of Food as a Human Right: Combatting Global Hunger and Forging a Path to Food Sovereignty (Prager, 2019), The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict between Food Security and Food Sovereignty (Praeger, 2010), an editor of The Global Food System: Issues and Solutions (Praeger, 2014). He is currently working with local religious organizations on projects to build gardens in the Tampa area. His forthcoming book, Food Insecurity: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, forthcoming, 2022) addresses the history of food insecurity in the United States. He is the director of the department’s Global Citizen Project and member of the steering committee for USF’s Urban Food Sovereignty Policy Group.

The 2020 Tampa Bay Urban Food Sovereignty Summit is a ResearchOne event because it promotes the research-related activities of USF faculty and other experts in the field of food sovereignty.  It is jointly sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Sociology, Ecology Florida, and ResearchOne.

To learn more about the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group and ways you can become involved in local food sovereignty initiatives, please visit our website.

To make a gift to the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group, click here.

(Your gift will help support future summits and activities of the USF Urban Food Sovereignty Group.) 

To view photos of last year's summit, click here.