Blog by: Braeden Leinhart, Fall 2018 Food For All Student
Edited by: Kayleigh Boucher, 2018 For For All Manager
On November 9, the UMass Student Farmers’ Market devoted a week to Sustainability and represented the theme by emphasizing the importance of equitable food access, justice, sovereignty, and security. In addition to the usual Student Farmers Market vendors, additional tents and tables were set up by different UMass student-led organizations including Food For All, the UMass Student Food Pantry, and the UMass Food Recovery Network. The UMass Student Farm also facilitated leadership during the Farmers’ Market by promoting and hosting a Buy One Give One sale, where customers had the opportunity to purchase additional produce and donate it. They also encouraged their CSA members to donate goods from their CSA share which were undesirable to them. All fresh food donations collected during this event were donated to Amherst Survival Center and Not Bread Alone Soup Kitchen.
Our mission as representatives of Food For All on this day was to engage in dialogue with the student body, and talk about what Food Access and Security means to both us and them. We set up several interactive stations that were designed to engage participants of the activities with different components of the food system which we interact with regularly. One activity station visually articulated our current food system and eloquently illustrated the complex web of interconnectedness allowing it to happen day after day. However, as magnificent and miraculous as our food system is, there are several aspects within it that lack efficiency and result in food waste and insecurity. We demonstrated the food waste aspect by asking participants to fill a compost bucket with what they thought would be an appropriate amount of food wasted on average per person per day. The result of this activity usually ended with a Food For All representative adding additional food into the compost bucket indicating that more food is being wasted than most people realize.
Another activity set up by Food For All designed for Farmers Market patrons to participate in was a food justice pledge. This activity encouraged individuals to think about how our actions may impact our food system, and how we may find a way to remediate harmful characteristics of it by changing the way we see and treat our food and behaviors that revolve around it. I was fortunate to have some really great conversations with participants and they seemed eager to make a pledge applicable to their life after talking about food waste and insecurity in our communities and on campus.
Lastly, Food For All set up a table upon which we put butternut squash and sweet potatoes that were free for people to take. The butternut squash had been gleaned from the UMass Student Farm, and the sweet potatoes were recovered from Lakeside Organic Farm, just off campus in Hadley. The response people had to the free food was pure joy and excitement. Those who chose to take some for themselves seemed really eager to go home from the market and prepare something with the food that they had just played a part in recovering. It was a gift to talk about issues within food and justice with the UMass community, have an opportunity to share some of what I have learned this semester with Food For All, and to have learned something new with each person I talked to on this day.