Special to the Vanguard
Davis, CA – A self-organized group of academic strikers and undergraduate students fed thousands this week at the UC Davis picket line. Since Monday, November 14, academic workers throughout the University of California have been on strike. For years, academic workers have decried working conditions at the University, citing wages that have not kept pace with rising costs of living, among a growing list of concerns. As bargaining is underway, the growing strike kitchen has raised over $7,000 and received food donations from dozens of Davis community members.
“It was only a week ago that a ragtag team of strikers started strategizing for how we would get food to the picket line. Since then, we have collected thousands of dollars in donations, not to mention the daily drop-offs of baked goods, fruit, vegetables, and dishes prepared by strikers and supportive community members,” said Morganne Blais-McPherson, a teaching assistant and PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology.
“It has been heartwarming to witness multiple strikers come up to us during lunch service and state that the communal meal is a major part of what keeps them energized to return to the picket line every day. It really demonstrates the power of grassroots organizing and the kind of impact it can have on a larger movement, ” added Pratik Gandhi, a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.
“Our kitchen keeps on growing, with new folk coming everyday bringing their skills and enthusiasm. It’s been an incredible experience to witness the community formed through students and workers cooking together to nourish the strike,” said Kase Wheatley, a teaching assistant in the Department of Geography.
Harleen Bal, a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, reflected, “This experience has really made me think about how food is quite powerful, both in bringing people together and fueling any movement—it’s partly the collective labor that goes into preparing a meal and cleaning, but also the actual eating and sharing a meal with others.”
Sophia Lindgren, an undergraduate student in anthropology, explained why they joined the strike kitchen, “I’m about to graduate, and in my entire college education, I’ve only had three actual faculty professors teach me in my field. I got involved in the strike because I want my TAs to get paid more. I want my money to go to the people who have been giving me an education, the teachers and researchers who make this institution run. In general, I can be cynical of the workforce I’m going into, and so it’s inspiring to see people who are changing that, and I want to be part of that change. And so when I saw the food crew cooking up on the grills, I was elated that there was more that I could do to help.”