When AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, asked for organizations to sign up for Campus Sustainability Month this October, Greening Lafayette began their events a week early. Registering the campus for a food-justice-themed month, various clubs and departments collaborated to host an Eat Local Challenge, a food ethics lecture, volunteering at the college farm (LaFarm), and a Halloween-themed food donation drive.
Food justice was a natural theme for Lafayette to host. LaFarm and the student-run club that supports it, Lafayette Food and Farm Co-op (LaFFCo), are thriving in student interest and sustainable production. Local agriculture and sustainable food loop messages have been strong on the campus, and are particularly interdisciplinary – helping students learn how labor, health, and social equality intersect deeply with sustainability.
Lafayette’s food service provider, Bon Appetit, plans an Eat Local Challenge event each year during the fall semester. On September 27th, Greening Lafayette along with LEAP, SEES, ECOreps, and NextGen Climate joined in the festivities. That night, while dining services provided a meal of local foods from only 150 miles away or less, volunteers from the clubs ran a Lehigh Valley farmland preservation information station, a voter registration booth, and met up to share food mile and environmental health facts with students who dined in Marquis Dining Hall that night.
Professor and ethicist Paul Thompson gave a lecture entitled “Food Ethics for Everyone” on October 13th. W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University, Professor Thompson asked the audience to see multiple food ethics challenges linked together. He addressed hunger and food security, obesity and the historical and religious interpretations of gluttony, and food community and culture to a diverse Lafayette audience. In his latest book “From Field to Fork” he states that food ethics, “…is the study of how virtue, vice, rights, duties, benefits, and harms arise in connection with the way that we produce, process, distribute, and consume our food,” (Thompson, 2015, p. 12).
Campus Sustainability Month finished up the last two weekends with hands-on events. LaFFCo hosted a garlic planting event at LaFarm on a Sunday afternoon (10/23), finishing off the season. On October 29th at the Lafayette-Georgetown football game, ECOreps teamed up with Athletes C.A.R.E. club members to collect priority items for local food pantries – while in costume, none-the-less. The Halloween-themed “Trick-or-TrEAT” event gathered 355+ pounds of food items that will be donated to the Landis Community Outreach Center’s food drive at the end of November. Nearly two-hundred-ten pounds of that total was graciously donated by Lafayette alum, Phil Noto ’72.
Lafayette’s first Campus Sustainability Month brought environmental clubs, athletes, community volunteers, faculty, staff, and numerous students together under the umbrella cause of “food justice.” Alongside the messages of sustainable food loops and food sovereignty, the campus came together to spread awareness and actively change attitudes and behaviors for sustainable living.