Mejdeen headshot

Emerson Fellow

Avyan Mejdeen

30th Class, 2023-2024

[email protected]

Having grown up in two different parts of the world, Kurdistan (Iraq) and Moorhead, Minnesota, Avyan Mejdeen was immersed in two different cultures. The experience has shaped her into an advocate fighting for the human rights of women, girls, and minorities; equal access to basic needs; and the Kurdish struggle for independence. Avyan graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead in 2022 with majors in Political Science and Global Studies, with a minor in Interfaith Studies. Avyan’s interest in anti-poverty and anti-hunger legislation stems from her personal experiences. She was raised in a low-income immigrant household with her parents and five siblings. She turned her challenges into opportunities by helping to raise awareness and advocating for others like her family through policies. Avyan was a political fellow at the Borgen Project where she helped mobilize Members of Congress in Minnesota to support policies on food insecurity and low-income housing. She has supported human rights through various outlets internationally and domestically, including as a Fulbright Scholar in Kosovo. She was also the first Muslim Interfaith Fellow selected at her undergrad institution serving as a coordinator that initiated and guided difficult discussions on religious divides between various religious groups on campus and in the community.

Field placement: Chicago Food Policy Action Council

Chicago, Illinois

Avyan is actively working on three key projects. First, she is developing an expansive network map for the Good Food Purchasing Initiative, which includes information about participating institutions, their specific food programs, and the food service companies and subcontractors they collaborate with. Second, she is creating a new database to track existing food procurement contracts, with the aim of integrating this data with the GFPI Network Map. Lastly, Avyan is conducting 1-3 case studies to illustrate how GFPP is put into practice, providing valuable insights to local food producers and businesses looking to support community meal providers.

Policy placement: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Washington, D.C.

Avyan Mejdeen serves in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) within the Food Nutrition Services department. Her role involves analyzing policy changes pertaining to the Healthy School Meals For All program in select states. These analyses are intended to be utilized by various stakeholders including USDA, non-profits, and businesses. Furthermore, Avyan is exploring potential policy adjustments, contributions, and the feasibility of incorporating Halal and Kosher meal options into K-12 meal systems.