Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Louis Epstein '19

It all started in Dawn King’s engaged scholarship course, Urban Agriculture, during which Louis Epstein ‘19 recalls writing his first food security report: a literature review and community engagement project for the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island. The following summer, he brought those skills to Bogotá, Colombia, where he worked for law advocacy organization Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad, examining the state of food security in the capital and other major cities.

Epstein explains that, despite the existence of many treaties guaranteeing food security, Colombia’s people do not always have enough to eat.

“I basically did an analysis of some notable government food programs, and if they worked,” he says. “I also analyzed and interviewed some people who were working outside the government framework: campesinos, or people who work in the fields—who have their own organizations that do food, kind of direct-to-market.”

Epstein found that government allowances such as the country’s school lunch program often did not provide recipients with nearly enough food; however, smaller, grassroots movements on the part of campesinos and other villagers held promise.

“Some of the campesino movements had pretty effective ways to get food to the city,” he says. “But again, they're really small. I think with government help they could be a lot better.”

Epstein, whose mother immigrated to the United States from Colombia in the 1980s, has always dreamed of visiting Bogotá. He explains that he is grateful to have been able to take advantage of the Institute’s internship opportunities abroad, and to do some good in the process.

"The grants [offered by the Institute] are unbelievably kind,” he concludes. “The financial aid waiver from IBES was also spectacular, because I could not have found that money otherwise. So—thanks, IBES. Louis says, ‘thanks.’”


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