Lobbying for Systemic Change in Food Service
Eating at a Meeting Podcast Episode #172
Elise Buellesbach was on stage at the 2022 FARE Food Allergy Summit when Tracy first heard her speak. She was getting the first-ever Young Leader Award for her work as a college student with food allergies and celiac disease to lobby and fight for systematic change on campus.
As a student studying political science at American University, she’s passionate about understanding the legislative process so she can help create systemic change for those who suffer from invisible disabilities (e.g. food allergies and celiac disease), in turn creating a more inclusive world.
Listen as Tracy and Elise chat about what she’s working on related to on-campus dining, when food is an inclusive issue, how she wants to encourage conversations about food allergies, and what it takes her to be safe.
Elise is studying political science at American University with the hope of creating systemic change and a more inclusive world. She has food allergies and celiac disease; she has worked on lobbying initiatives, built the Food Allergy Research Caucus, and is currently pushing for dining changes at AU
What do safe, sustainable, and inclusive food and beverage experiences look like to you?
I am a firm believer in the phrase “exclude the food”. Students deserve to be included in everyday activities from class to birthday parties regardless of their dining needs. As a society, we love to turn to food in all social situations and one of my goals is to encourage conversation about alternative options.
Do you have an example of a situation that negatively affected you and other individuals or groups’ food and beverage experience?
Yes — since day one of school I have sat out of class and learning experiences because of school. Even as recently as this year (as a sophomore in college) I continue to be excluded from activities in class.
What is a best practice you use/or have seen to create safe, sustainable, and inclusive F&B experiences?
Communication! I have found that talking about my food allergies dramatically changes my experiences. Little comments about how I interact with the world around me forces my friends and peers to consider the impact of food. In other words, sharing my story leads to tangible change.
What do you wish people knew about what you do?
I talk about food allergies all the time. Sharing my story about food allergies gives me an opportunity to educate others as well as to find and engage with other disabled folks. Having food allergies is hard and frustrating and all-encompassing. However, I have learned tremendously from this experience; for example, I am responsible because food allergies taught me always to bring a backup snack and I am an advocate because that’s what it takes to stay safe.
Just for fun…What are your favorite food and drink?
I love water … I know its boring. If I picked a fun drink it would be a smoothie.
I love mac-n-cheese