Cassandria Campbell

G-Row Alum, Founder of Fresh Food Generation

Cassandria was 13 years old attending the John D. O’Bryant School when she heard an announcement over the school loud speaker – Olympic gold medalist Holly Metcalf was coming to talk about rowing. Cassandria didn’t know what rowing was, but she was excited to meet a star athlete. “I was an awkward, shy teenager with green hair and an eyebrow piercing. Holly was the nicest, most welcoming person I had ever met. “

It was only after she got to college that Cassandria realized how important the life skills she learned from rowing really were. She knew how to eat well and exercise and was comfortable in her body. And then there were the expectations and assumptions that she blew by. “In my first week at Swarthmore, I had to pass a swimming test. I jumped in the pool and started swimming, and I noticed that the life guard was following me up and down the length of the pool. Later, I found out why. I was the only black kid in their experience who had passed the swimming test,” a skill she learned from the winter pool workouts with G-Row.

Rowing also taught Cassandria how to push herself - that to feel exhausted and uncomfortable was part of growing as a person and achieving goals. That determination and drive translated to the classroom. “I went to two very rigorous institutions, Swarthmore and MIT. I had to learn very quickly how to balance a heavy workload. I could always hear the voices of my teammates, coaches, and coxswain in my head, rooting me on.”

Perhaps the most valuable lesson Cassandria learned was how to dream big enough to create the world she wanted to see, and be daring enough to do it. “Holly was passionate and wanted to see Girl’s Row Boston grow. I was amazed at how hard all the women worked to make sure we showed up and got a chance to row. They believed that everyone should be able to hold an oar regardless of their race or what side of the river they lived on. Those values really stuck with me. I also wanted to fight for equality.”

Cassandria moved back to Roxbury after graduating from MIT. When she looked around her, she saw children who were struggling with their weight and had only junk food options available in the neighborhood. She decided to start Fresh Food Generation, using food trucks to improve access to healthy, affordable prepared foods in low-income neighborhoods. “…But starting a business is not easy. I took inspiration from thinking back to my days with Holly and the coaches, and how they pushed this vision for Row Boston because it was something they really believed in.” 

Fresh Food Generation is still going strong and has even catered for the Let’s Row Boston annual indoor erg championship--the YETI—at Reggie Lewis Indoor Track Center in West Roxbury.  For more information on Cassandria and Fresh Food Generation, please visit www.freshfoodgeneration.com.