2016 Smith Fellow: Cecilia Polanco | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar


Each year, the Southern Foodways Alliance celebrates men and women whose lifework enriches Southern food culture. Seven SFA awards and honors recognize these cultural standard bearers.

2016 Smith Fellow: Cecilia Polanco

Cecilia Polanco is a 2016 graduate of UNC, where she received a degree in Global Studies. During her time at Carolina, Cecilia conducted independent research titled, “Pupusa Practices of the Salvadoran Diaspora in the United States” where she learned about pupusa makers and their pupusa stories. The summer of her junior year she launched the food truck and catering company So Good Pupusas and started filling pupusa catering orders at UNC. She works with members of her family and UNC undergraduates who volunteer their time for the mission of So Good Pupusas to create a scholarship fund for undocumented students pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

Cecilia was a recipient of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship and the Global Gap Year Fellowship through the UNC Campus Y. Many of the opportunities she had at Carolina were possible through financial assistance programs based on both merit and need, most of which she would not have qualified for with undocumented status. So Good Pupusas, and their non-profit partner Pupusas for Education, aims to make higher education access more equitable for undocumented students through last dollar scholarships, one pupusa at a time.

Cecilia participated in the SFA Oral History Workshop during her pupusa research summer. The workshop was insightful and helped her understand the importance of peoples’ stories and the meaning food can play in peoples’ lives. Her experience in the workshop also prepared her to better tell her own pupusa story.

So Good Pupusas is currently a venture in the CUBE (Creating University Born Entrepreneurs), a social innovation incubator housed in UNC’s Campus Y, and is working on launching their first food truck.



The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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