Breanne Delgado is SuperpowerfulUpdated April 2, 2021
You know when you hear about the women who do it all? Well, we mean it when we say that Breanne Delgado is a woman that does it all. She is a co-founder of the Women’s March, a movement that started in 2016 and rallied hundreds of thousands of women around the world to fight for women’s rights. She is the founder of Stir the Nation, a community space using food to bring people together and drive impactful conversations. She is an ambassador of Community X, a social media platform for activism and activists. She’s also on the team at One Fair Wage, an organization fighting to end the Jim-Crow era subminimum wage, working directly with Senator Sanders and other legislators on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers. On top of all of this, she is a chef, with her passion for food rooted in the connection that comes from it. We had the honor of speaking with her about these initiatives as part of our I Am Superpowerful series.
So Breanne, tell us a bit about how it all started:
I had my baking business, I was teaching culinary classes, and I was hustling doing various gigs in New York City for corporate clients. After becoming the Executive Pastry Chef at Facebook NY, I had a lot of people in the tech world and social scene that ate my food, one of those people being Eva Chen. When she joined the team at Instagram, I was one of the first people she befriended, as she loves pastries. In April 2016, I got an email from her almost at midnight telling me, “Look, I don’t want to assume your political affiliation, but I’m doing a fundraising event for Hilary Clinton with DVF and would love to order your iPhone cookies.” She ordered them from me and I translated the campaign’s Instagram feed into cookies.
“Little did I know I was serving cookies to some of my future colleagues.”
Fast forward to the day after the 2016 election, I saw there was a call for a march in DC on Facebook. I ended up joining the team, watching RSVPs go from 3,000 to 30,000 to 300,000! I was glued to my computer for the next 72 hours, watching this thing go viral, wondering if this is how Beyoncé felt when she posts. After the march, we started an organization, which I served on the board of for 3 years. That was an incredible journey for me, and it’s great to see Women’s March continue to thrive and do impactful work.
Tell us a bit more about One Fair Wage and what it aims to do.
A lot of people don’t realize the history of tipping is a legacy of slavery that enables racial discrimination and sexual harassment, impacting Black Women the most. There are two wages, the minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage, the latter created out of the Jim Crow era to maintain control over newly freed enslaved Black workers and the wages they were making. Today that means tipped, youth, formerly incarcerated and disabled workers all make a subminimum wage, which is federally just $2.13/hour.
There was already a crisis of restaurant workers experiencing sexual harassment, but with the pandemic, it has only increased. I call it “Maskual Harassment” or men asking women to take off their masks and see their face to judge how much to tip. As someone who was sexually harassed at work multiple times and wrongfully fired, I told myself I will not work at another restaurant again. But the reality is, a lot of workers don’t have that option and are continually harassed - even in a global pandemic. We are fighting tooth and nail to ensure ALL workers get a raise to $15/hour, which is still just shy of $30k/year. It’s truly the bare minimum to ask for.
“Raising the minimum wage and abolishing the sub-minimum wage will help put women of color on an equal playing field with their white male colleagues.”
Even though it just failed in the Senate, we aren’t giving up. The biggest thing that we can all do - and I’m serious - is flood the phone and fax lines, email, tweet, @ them on social media and hold them accountable to pass this. The majority of Americans are in favor of raising the wage to $15/hour. We voted these legislators in, so anybody voting against this, we’ll vote YOU out. It’s imperative they hear from us, and Senator Sanders agreed that putting pressure is how we can win.
So what are your plans for the future, post pandemic?
At the start of 2020, I was in the middle of launching Stir the Nation, a community space that uses food to educate, empower, and equip people to make change. I was planning on the bulk of my revenue coming from pop ups, corporate events and brand partnerships. But then Covid happened and everything stopped.
“Suddenly, everything becomes about survival.”
Within 24 hours of the shutdown, I got an instagram DM from my friend Sally Kohn who was helping One Fair Wage launch an emergency relief fund for restaurant workers in the pandemic. “Are you interested?” she asked me.
Within a month of launching, we raised $11 million dollars and received 60K applicants. It was incredible to see how much support was coming in and then it became, ‘how do we distribute this?’ That number grew to $23 million and 250K applicants, becoming one of the biggest relief funds being offered to restaurant workers. We have currently distributed financial aid to over 50k of those workers, and continue to offer resources and aid during these difficult times.
I’m also feeling called more to work with food, especially to protect my mental health and creativity. I put the chef in me on hold to dive into this political arena and understand my purpose in contributing to the movement towards equality. Now, I’m focusing on Stir the Nation again, and how that can become a tool to educate people on eating consciously and sustainably.
What are the next steps for Stir the Nation?
I’m working on launching conscious cooking classes, highlighting incredible people and work in this new era of food, and partnering with progressive organizations and companies for curated collaborations.
“Food is a bridge across so many different issues and is vital to our human connection.”
I feel honored that my experience as a chef helped propel me into an activist and community builder. I’m continuing to explore that intersection and how it helps others within the food industry. Being in accessible spaces that meet people at their level - showing people how to compost or grow their own food, cooking shortcuts that minimize food waste, or how food can transform your mental, physical and emotional health - is a powerful tool that can transform our communities.
And for the next women’s march. How do you see that evolving?
Women’s March continues to push gender equality, and is even helping One Fair Wage advocate for women to access safe and equitable workplaces. I’m also helping a brand new app called Community X - the new social media for social good - shaped by activists and movement leaders for people to take tangible action. We’re a part of TechStars which is a huge deal and there’s a lot of growing support for us. The app officially launches March 31st!
Last but not least, what is your superpower?
I have really embraced the fact that I have ADHD, which was validated during the pandemic. My brain thinks differently than most people and that’s something I used to try and hide. Now, I’ve accepted it as my superpower. It allows me to be a multifaceted person, an innovator, learn new skills and dive into different projects and passions because of my hyperfocus. I’m far from perfect, but I now have the self awareness to hold all of these evolving parts - plus the confidence to know the value my unique gifts bring.
Sign up for CommunityX, the new social media for social good.
Volunteer for One Fair Wage and help raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.