perkins headshot

Emerson Fellow

Lakeisha Perkins

25th Class, 2018-2019

Lakeisha graduated with a Bachelor of Science in agriculture & society from Iowa State University in May 2018 where her major focused largely on courses from sociology, political science, and economics to prepare students to become leaders in addressing complex issues related to the social and human dimensions of agriculture, such as poverty and food insecurity, at both the local and global level. As an undergraduate student, she worked as a Cyclone Aide, Peer Mentor and Teaching Assistant to foster an environment that encourages diversity and inclusion and gained valuable written and verbal communication skills, project management skills and skills in event management. In addition to her education and work experiences, Lakeisha spent much of her childhood growing up poor and hungry, living in shelters and churches in Des Moines, Iowa. Her firsthand experiences, combined with her education, has been the fuel for Lakeisha’s passion to contribute to anti-poverty and anti-hunger efforts and bridge the gap between those that suffer from hunger, poverty, and oppression and those that do not, while eliminating the harmful stereotypes surrounding them.

Field placement: Reconnecting McDowell

Welch, West Virginia

Lakeisha completed her field placement at Reconnecting McDowell, a non-profit initiative piloted by the American Federation of Teachers to holistically supplement the needs of students in McDowell County, WV to ensure better education and vocational outcomes. In her role, Lakeisha created a proposed plan for how student-grown produce will be collected, processed, and delivered to county school kitchens. The workflow was cooperatively designed by all those involved with the project, including producers, students, school officials, and food service staff. Her roles included developing toolkits for producers and schools, working with various partners to identify assets, and helping to design an aggregation facility.

Policy placement: Food Research & Action Center

Hunger Free Community Report

"Implementing Farm to School in McDowell County, West Virginia: Farm to School in Rural Appalachia" - the child food insecurity rate in McDowell County, West Virginia is 32%, which is 14% higher than the national average and one effort to alleviate child food insecurity is through implementing farm to school programs. The report highlights the history of farm to school in the county, lists current barriers to progress, and offers four recommendations for moving forward.

Publications & Blog Posts