When I transferred to IU Bloomington from IUPUI in the Fall of 2014, I immediately fell in love with both the town and the campus. There are always plenty of events to attend, interesting classes to take, and driven people working to better their community.
Being here has also given me the opportunity to develop my interest in sustainable food systems. And as the new food planning and implementation intern with the IU Office of Sustainability, I’m in on the ground floor in creating real change at the university and in the surrounding community.
I believe that an equitable, just, and sustainable food system is crucial to the longevity of any society or community, and that our current food system has many flaws at the global, regional, and local levels.
Having worked with Food Not Bombs, I have seen the inequities of our current food system in distributing healthy food to all members of the community. Seeing how many people go hungry or undernourished while massive amounts of food get thrown out inspired me to learn more about how the global food system works. At large institutions, food choices are often limited to a handful of large-scale providers, which can result in a food system that is not as sustainable as it could be. Thankfully, IU, in partnership with food providers, has initiatives to track food sustainability and help to increase the amount of healthy, local, just, and sustainable being served on campus. The Real Food Challenge hopes to raise the amount of ‘real’ food available at IU to 20 percent by 2020.
Here at IU, the Office of Sustainability — with many other campus and community groups, such as the Student Sustainability Council, the Campus Sustainability Advisory Board, and VegIU — is attempting to create an IU that is at the forefront of implementing sustainability into all aspects of our operations and curriculum. Through my internship, I find myself playing a key role in this process, and it is exciting, thrilling, and intimidating.
This summer, I will be planning the annual Big Red Eats Green food fair, which will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015 at the IU Art Museum.
The purpose of this event is to emphasize the importance and benefits of a strong local food economy and to highlight local restaurants, farmers, and groups dedicated to sustainable food practices. Students will be able to buy lunch on campus from these local restaurants and farms, and interact with and learn about many different groups that are doing great work on campus. In previous years the festival has been a great success and I hope to continue expanding and improving upon the festival. I hope to bring together more vendors, more farmers, more students, and truly create an atmosphere that encourages all members of our community to be thinking about and working towards sustainability.
There are so many ways to get involved in creating a more sustainable food system here at IU. Students can take the Real Food Challenge course offered in the Spring Semester or volunteer in exchange for free produce with SPROUTS or the Campus Garden. Students can have their voices heard by being on the Student Sustainability Council or campus groups such as VegIU.
I cannot stress enough the importance for students to be active on campus and to help create a more sustainable campus and food system for us all! Only by being involved and seeking change can we create an IU that ensures all students are presented options which are healthy, ethically sourced, sustainable, and affordable. Together we can work toward a future where Bloomington and the university have a food system that is healthy not just for the body, but for society and the planet as well.