College’s first Food Week foregrounds ethical concerns

On Monday, the College joined thousands of organizations across the country in celebrating the first National Food Day, an event that seeks to raise awareness about a variety of food movements that are spreading throughout the country. Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the event advocates consuming healthy and sustainable food, combating hunger, encouraging healthy lifestyles, protecting the environment and improving conditions for farm workers. Monday was the primary day in an entire Food Week taking place through Friday.

Andrea Lindsay ’13 organized Food Week at the College. Lindsay sent out e-mails in August asking for student volunteers and leveraged her responses into an unofficial Food Day Committee. The committee then collaborated with a variety of groups on campus. Lehman Council, Gusto, Williams Recovery of All Perishable Surplus, Williams Sustainable Growers and Dining Services are all participating in Food Week by hosting events.

One major purpose of this series of events is to highlight and commend the food related events that already take place on campus, such as Log Lunch, Stressbusters and garden parties. Celeste Berg ’13, who also helped organize and publicize Food Week, explained that many of the events hosted by Dining Services celebrate the work that is already taking place at the College to promote healthier food options. “Even beyond this week, Dining Services is an organization that is really enthusiastic about supporting sustainable food systems – much of the products used in our dining hall food comes from local farmers and suppliers,” Berg said.

As the organizers prepared for Food Day, the number of campus events and festivities necessitated an entire Food Week to accommodate all of the ideas. The events have included a garden work party; brunches, dinners and gelato parties hosted by Dining Services; films; food tastings; a Keep Farming event in North Adams; and a workshop with a regional coordinator from The Real Food Challenge, an organization that has coordinated Food Day at colleges across the United States.

The Vitamin E Brunch held on Sunday was hosted by the Lehman Council and sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement. Lauren Shuffleton ’12, who helped organize the brunch, also explained the way in which the brunch underscores the efforts that the College is making to promote healthy food. Lehman Council hosts the new biweekly Vitamin E brunches, designed to “let activists, volunteers and otherwise engaged folks get together for brunch and discussions every other week.”

Another aim of Food Week is to explore ways in which the College can promote healthy, locally-grown and sustainable food and encourage greater attentiveness to these issues.

Lindsay said that organizations across the nation can unify in promoting these principles for one day each year and receive both local and national coverage while doing so; in turn, those efforts can contribute to a strengthened public consciousness surrounding food issues. Members of the College community are additionally being asked to sign a national petition to support the principles of Food Day. Once completed, the petition will be sent to Congress.

Berg elaborated on the influential role of Food Day at the College. “I think that we can make a difference – Food Day events aim to bring together people from all backgrounds and raise this type of awareness, and Williams’s participation represents a singular execution of this initiative,” Berg said.