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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Katherine Wilkin

Roanoke Tip Jar

Born in 1995, Katherine Wilkin grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. At age 17, she began working as a server there and continued restaurant work while pursuing her undergraduate degree at University of Virginia. After she graduated, she began working at Local Roots, a farm-to-table restaurant in Roanoke. During that time, she became a coordinator with Against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a grassroots environmental organizing movement.

In March 2020, while she was working at Local Roots, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted her work as a server. Early in the pandemic, she noticed other food service industry folks founding mutual aid funds, also known as “Tip Jars,” for fellow workers. In April 2020, Wilkin founded the Roanoke Tip Jar, which sends money directly to food service workers affected by shutdowns during COVID. Throughout the Pandemic, she managed donations and distributions of funds in the Roanoake area. In Fall 2020, Wilkin moved to New York City to begin law school.

Date of interview:

Jessica Taylor, Jessica Brabble, and Iris Swaney


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Other Project Interviews



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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