Reflections on the Food Justice Committee

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Student interest and awareness of food justice issues is on the rise. For the first time on campus a Food Justice Committee was formed within the CCE. Members involved were very diverse in a variety of capacities. A majority of the committee members were Eastern students ranging from first year students to seniors, commuters, and even faculty members. The committee convened on a weekly basis in the CCE to discuss the current state of food access to the Willimantic community. Committee members actively engaged in hands on volunteer efforts to educate the community on healthy eating and directly increased the access to fresh and health food to all members of our community including low income populations.  For instance, on a weekly basis students participated in a 12 week 4H afterschool Food and Nutrition program at Windham Middle School. The curriculum was designed by the committee and the program taught topics such as how food grows, reading labels, the water cycle, etc. Additionally, the committee has worked with the CT Food Bank to bring its mobile food pantry to Willimantic for the first time ever! The mobile pantry will provide Willimantic residents with 5,000lbs. of fresh food, free of charge, on the last Tuesday of each month.  With collaboration with the CT Food Bank, committee members participated in two gleanings at a local apple orchard. Gleanings are defined as picking through a farmer’s left over crop to salvage food for other uses. Members were able to pick 500lbs. of apples that would have otherwise rotted and donated them to Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, and the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Aside from off campus volunteerism, committee members conducted an on-campus food audit of Hurley Hall. Members put together an infographic which was placed around campus to encourage students to be aware of their food footprint. Finally, the committee members actively participate in enrichment activities to gain further understanding of the topic of food justice. For example, they have toured organic farms, interacted with farmers, attended a food justice conference in NYC, visited farmer markets and toured co-ops around the state. All of the committee’s hard work was recognized at this years’ service expo where the committee was awarded “Best New Program.” The committee will continue to grow (literally and figuratively) to get much needed resources and education not only to our off campus community but to the Eastern community as well.


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