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Jenny Dorsey: Defining More Equitable Standards for the Food Industry

Jenny Dorsey: Defining More Equitable Standards for the Food Industry


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Jenny Dorsey, the executive director of Studio ATAO. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.   

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Jenny! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?

Jenny: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! We are defining more equitable standards for the food, beverage, and hospitality (FBH) industry through community-informed research, education, and programming. For students, we aim to deepen their understanding of the complexity, importance, and far-reaching nature of the FBH industry—because food has, is, and will shape the very foundation of their lives.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Jenny: I am a food industry professional, and I am passionate about creating an industry that I would've wanted to be part of after graduating from culinary school. There are so many injustices I did not have the vocabulary to name, much less address, as a student, and I want to break down those barriers for current and future industry workers.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

Jenny: We offer research-backed findings—like our Toolkit for Recognizing, Disrupting, and Preventing Tokenism in Food Media—to industry professionals looking to improve and change their workplaces. Our events like the Hospitality Worker Town Halls build capacity on-the-ground to initiate grassroots change; and our educational resources, like our forthcoming Food Systems 101 curriculum, challenge the normative standards for "food education" by exposing a new generation of food professionals to the realities of the injustices within the industry.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by your organization. What impact does that make? 

Jenny: We launched our toolkit for The Neighborhood's Table (https://bit.ly/tnttoolkit) that offers concrete case studies and strategies for hospitality business owners to approach their work with the community in mind!

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Jenny: Food is inherently political, and it touches everyone. Here is a good video about it: https://www.instagram.com/p/ClO2lXdJfru/

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Jenny—it’s been an honor!

Jenny Dorsey is a professional chef, writer, and speaker working at the intersection of food, identity, and social justice. She leads a nonprofit research organization named Studio ATAO, and runs her own culinary consulting business. In 2022, she was named to Food & Wine's industry Game Changers list, as well as the World's 50 "50 Next" list. Her full biography can be found at www.jennydorsey.co. (Nominated by Pitichoke C. of Rainbow Produce. First published on the Ladderworks website on February 10, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.