2011 Distinguished Achievement Award - Public Service

Therese Allen '77Terese Allen '77
View Terese’s acceptance speech

For Terese Allen ’77, food is a celebration. But she knows it is a celebration to which not everyone is invited.

The philosophy major turned food writer/historian/activist/chef has shone a bright light on the culinary riches and traditions of Wisconsin, even as she has illuminated the dark corners of hunger and poverty, and advocated for sustainable, socially just food policy.

As a contributing editor of Wisconsin Trails magazine, a food columnist for The Isthmus, and author or editor of ten books about food and cooking, Terese became well known – and much beloved – by foodies across Wisconsin. As co-author of the revised “The Flavor of Wisconsin,” she helped create what Kate Thompson of the Wisconsin State Historical Society Press called “an immensely important and lasting chronicle of Wisconsin cultural history.”

Terese is dedicated to the principle that all economic segments of the community have the right to the good, healthy food about which she writes so elegantly. As a result, she has been active in pursuing “sustainable eating” – with food that is environmentally friendly, economically feasible and socially just.

Her commitment has taken many forms: She instituted the practice of gleaning unsold produce from the Dane County Farmer’s Market to distribute at a food pantry, dedicating ten years to the cause before another group stepped in to help. Later, she helped institute a similar, broader-based program on Madison’s east side.

For years, she organized a variety of fundraisers on behalf of the Atwood Community Center, including international dinners that highlighted the cuisines of various cultures, including Southeast Asia and the Balkans.

Today, Terese is board chair of REAP (Research, Education, Action and Policy)
Food Group, initiators of such groundbreaking programs as the Food for Thought Festival, Farm to School, and Buy Fresh, Buy Local. She recently co-wrote and published the first annual “Wisconsin Local Foods Journal,” a guide to eating sustainably, as well as an ongoing fundraiser for REAP initiatives.

Terese serves as food editor for Organic Valley, the country’s largest
organic farmer’s cooperative. She is an editorial advisor and columnist for Edible Madison magazine, an endeavor that promotes and celebrates local foods. As a longtime member of the Wisconsin Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau, she spreads the “good word” about local foods and regional foodways all around the state. Currently Terese is working on a state-focused history-cookbook for children, a textbook about foods that reflect and sustain Wisconsin resources and heritage.

She states her mission simply: “Being a part of a community that is working toward a goal and changing things for the better.” She credits St. Norbert with inspiring her dedication to make a difference in the world – something she’s doing, one bite at a time.