Palmer headshot

Emerson Fellow

Kenneth Palmer

30th Class, 2023-2024

[email protected]

A native Kansan from Lawrence, Kenneth currently lives in Denver, Colorado, continuing his work on food justice at We Don’t Waste, a food recovery organization that helps redirect food that would otherwise go uneaten to social service agencies. Kenneth graduated from Harvard University in History and Literature, during which time he studied the systems that govern injustice and resource deprivation along the lines of class and race. He has worked on a small farm in Perry, Kansas, and at a non-profit in the area dedicated to growing and distributed free food in his home town. Though he wrote his undergraduate thesis on Langston Hughes in Soviet Central Asia and racial agency, his interests today include plant identification, agricultural systems, and learning about the overlap and interactions between humans and the rest of the natural world. Kenneth hopes to meld his interests in food justice, agriculture, and appreciation of ecological systems into set of skills that can contribute to the work of ending poverty and creating a more livable, vibrant society.

Field placement: Feeding South Dakota

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Kenneth's project comprises research on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in the state and collecting data on hunger with an eye toward helping his organization expand from direct service and food distribution toward policy advocacy. An emphasis of his work is to highlight the root causes of hunger, which means addressing issues like rent, healthcare costs, wages, childcare, and myriad other issues that intersect with food insecurity. Addressing these issues means advancing the interests of people with lived experience, something the Emerson Fellows in South Dakota are advocating tirelessly. Kenneth is also conducting surveys throughout the state of South Dakota, travelling to communities of all sizes to collect data on the intersection of healthcare costs, food costs, health outcomes, income, and class.

Policy placement: National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Washington, D.C.