Good Food And Bad Food Essay Contests

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The Composition Program and First Year Composition leadership is proud to announce the winners of the FOOD Writing Contest. Students of CO150 in 2016-17, who finished the course in good standing, were invited to submit their final researched essay or visual essay for the writing contest sponsored by Fountainhead Press.  Many essays were submitted, all of which demonstrated the superb instruction of the students’ instructors and the strong writing skills being developed in our CO150 students. A committee of reviewers selected 1st, 2nd and 3rd place essays, and those essays will appear in the Fall 2018 Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Reader. Winners also received cash prizes.

Raven Pinto: 1st Place 

Raven’s essay seeks to compel state policy-makers to adopt organic food waste bans. Raven says it best when she concludes, “the United States will reap the advantages of state-required food waste bans by way of increased food donations to hunger relief organizations; reducing the United States hunger rate as well as the waste rate. Additionally, environments will thrive in the increasing absence of the methane that is produced when large amounts of organic compost are dumped in landfills. Research and analytical observation has also concluded that food waste policies can lead to successful waste-diversion industries, increasing job availability for the American people.” Raven’s well-organized essay effectively discusses all of the above pieces of evidence with consistent sophisticated and professional voice.

Savanah Cheatham: 2nd Place

Savanah’s essay seeks to convince those who have considered adopting a plant-based diet to finally take the plunge. In her essay, she appeals to those readers who may be on the fence about plant-based diets by highlighting several ways in which a plant-based diet has been statistically tested and proven effective.. Savanah closes by saying that a plant-based diet will be “a huge step in contributing to a happier and healthier version of yourself.” Although using second person appeals and personal experience can be incredibly risky in our writing, Savanah is able to effectively use these strategies to communicate her purpose.

Jacob Brueckman: 3rd Place

Jacob tackles the “Havoc of High Sugar Diets” in his essay, focusing, especially, on the damage a high-sugar diet can have on America’s children. With this focus, he appeals directly to parents, seeking to convince them of not only the necessity to help kids today stay away from sugar, but also to seek education on food labeling in order to become more educated on how refined sugar is “hiding in not so obvious products.” Jacob addresses the exigency of the issue by synthesizing sources focused on childhood obesity before turning his attention to the importance of reading food labels in order to keep our future generations, America’s children, healthy and thriving. Jacob’s essay handles multiple layers of an issue, which is, itself, risky, but he does so effectively by keeping focused on his overall purpose.



Mama’s Meatball, a family-run restaurant and caterer serving Italian dishes in San Luis Obispo the past 11 years, could soon have another owner — whoever wins an essay contest sponsored by the current owners.

Individuals are being asked to answer, in 250 words or less, “Why am I the best person(s) to own and operate Mama’s Meatball Restaurant in San Luis Obispo?” Participants must pay a $200 entry fee and postmark their entry on or before Dec. 20. Three judges, industry professionals who aren’t related to owners Nicola Allegretta and his wife, Jackeline Ortiz De Zevallos Allegretta, will select the winner.

We want to dedicate more time to our children and taking care of our family. And we feel we should give an opportunity (to operate the business) to somebody else.

Nicola Allegretta, Mama’s Meatball co-owner

“A good essay will be from somebody who loves hospitality, food and people,” Nicola Allegretta said.

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The contest seeks 7,500 entries, and the Allegrettas reserve the right to cancel it if they don’t get enough entries. The entry fee will be returned if the contest is called off. If they don’t get enough entries, they’ll continue operating and then review options.

“We don’t really have a minimum, but I’d want at least 5,000 entries,” Allegretta said. “I don’t think it will be a problem because it’s open to anyone in the country, not just the San Luis Obispo area.”

If they get the minimum 5,000 entries at $200 each, that would generate $1 million toward covering the costs of organizing the contest and compensation for assets.

Nicola Allegretta, a native of Italy, said that he and his wife want to spend more time with their three young children and focus on their other businesses — Mistura, a Peruvian restaurant in Paso Robles located near their home, and Haute Catering & Events. Jackeline is a native Peruvian.

Much of their time now is consumed with work, he said. “And we feel we should give an opportunity (to operate the business) to somebody else.”

Mama’s Meatball would be transferred “as is” and the new owner would need to agree contractually to keep the core menu, name and branding. The new owner also would need to retain the current employees, including many who have been there for years, at their current rate of pay. Special dishes and minor changes would be allowed.

The business has been valued at about $500,000, including all inventory, equipment, furnishings, recipes and its brand, according to Nicola Allegretta.

Allegretta said they haven’t tried to sell the business before, but did receivean offer to buy it; however the offer wasn’t satisfactory. The restaurant makes a profit of about 8 to 12 percent a year, he said, which could be increased with catering jobs.

The Allegrettas filed for personal bankruptcy reorganization in 2015 to consolidate their debts into one payment with a lower interest rate; Mama’s Meatball was among the businesses then listed as assets. Allegretta said that debt would not be a factor for the new owner who wins the contest.

A good essay will be from somebody who loves hospitality, food and people.

Nicola Allegretta, Mama’s Meatball co-owner

Nine-and-a-half years remain on the 2,000-square-foot restaurant’s 10-year lease, Allegretta said. He declined to disclose terms of the lease, but said it’s in line with the average cost for downtown San Luis Obispo.

The new owner would also be responsible for all taxes associated with the transfer of ownership, including business transfer taxes, lawyer’s fees and any other fees arising from the essay contest.

Allegretta said that he started the business with little money, receiving a bank loan, and built it up over the years. The menu includes a variety of antipasti, pastas, soups, salads, panini and meat and fish dishes.

“Everything we do is homemade,” Allegretta said. “The name of the restaurant comes from the idea that your mother’s cooking always tastes the best. I had a customer tell me ‘Nobody can cook like my mother. You make me remember mama’s cooking.’ This is for all of the mothers.”

Allegretta said that he has prided himself on knowing customers’ names and building a personal relationship with them.

For more information: The contest details are available at


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