2023 World Food Forum

(From left to right) Angela Tarana, Nicholas Smaldone, Lois Maison, Sydney Pryor, Kailey McNeal, and Juan Archila Godinez at the 2023 World Food Forum
(From left to right) Angela Tarana, Nicholas Smaldone, Lois Maison, Sydney Pryor, Kailey McNeal, and Juan Archila Godinez at the 2023 World Food Forum. (Courtesy of Angela Tarana)

In October 2023, six GW graduate students traveled to Rome, Italy to represent the Global Food Institute at the World Food Forum (WFF) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters.



An open letter to the World Food Forum

By Sydney Pryor, Kailey McNeal, Nicholas Smaldone, Juan Archila Godinez, Lois Maison, Angela Tarana

While the draw of authentic cacio e pepe just might be strong enough to pull some of us from D.C. across the Atlantic, it was the 2023 World Food Forum (WFF) that brought us to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Our group of six graduate students from the George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., represented the GW Global Food Institute as a youth delegation to the WFF. The six of us also share the belief that the policies that currently govern agrifood systems uphold the interests of governments and powerful industry groups at the expense of human health, social justice, and the future of the planet.

As collective first-timers to any United Nations convening, we want to provide you with our insights as six individuals with diverse, yet often overlapping reflections on our time and the opportunities we see to make the WFF more inclusive and action-oriented. Although this year’s WFF did an amazing job of bringing together compelling voices and actors from across the globe for important discussions, there were also a few key areas of improvement that would have made the event that much more successful.

Read the Full Letter


Individual Reflections on the World Food Forum

Read the students’ full reflections by clicking on the links below.

Kailey McNeal

“As someone who is passionate about transforming food systems for the benefit of racial justice and animal protection, I was eager to connect with other young advocates globally on these issues. While the forum provided opportunities to share ideas with other young people engaged in bettering food systems, I was disappointed by the lack of acknowledgement of the role that systemic factors play in the transformation of food systems.”

Assessing the youth role in food systems transformation
Kailey McNeal

GW Law ’24

“People from all over are thinking about the impact of our food production and consumption on the environment, on livelihoods, on our future—and advocating for an agrifood system transformation that is healthy, sustainable, and socially just.

“Thinking about how best to communicate this urgency, how to hold governments and corporations accountable, how to empower communities. People are calling for innovation, and not just the start-up kind, but innovative pathways for preserving, scaling and repurposing traditional knowledge and practices to our urgent crises. But how do we better address this question?”

The dichotomy of plant-based diets vs livestock
Sydney Pryor
Milken Institute SPH Ph.D. candidate in Health Policy

Sydney Pryor



Nick Smaldone

“We youth, as a group, are more than just a category defined by age. We are intersectional and multi-faceted in our identities. Our struggle overlaps with other marginalized and undervalued groups in society, such as Indigenous peoples, women, gender and sexual minorities, people with disabilities, poor people and more.”

An open letter to my fellow youth and our future leaders
Nick Smaldone ’23
CCAS M.S. candidate in Geography

"Each session I attended, and every interaction I had, was a vivid tapestry of insights. Voices ranged from smallholder farmers to academics, from private sector mavens to policymakers, each contributing to a rich mosaic of perspectives. The diversity underscored the multifaceted nature of our quest for food security—a challenge demanding nothing less than collaborative ingenuity.”

Passionate young voices come together
Angela Tarana
Elliott School M.A. candidate in International Development

Angela Tarana