Nina: As I understand it, you’re trying to donate uneaten food from Bates. Can you elaborate more on your project?
Alex: Everyday enough food is thrown away in Bates to feed twenty people. I am sickened by the thought that people only a couple miles away from us are going hungry as we throw out perfectly decent food. I want to lessen food waste by bringing excess food one day a week to a homeless shelter, but hopefully it will be multiple days a week in the future.
N: Where did you get the idea to start the initiative? What about this particular project captured your attention and imagination?
A: I got this idea at the end of last semester weirdly enough at my first Compost Club meeting. Eli was leading a discussion about what we should do in the coming semester. Someone mentioned measuring the amount of food thrown away at Bates. This led me to think about donating the food to a shelter. At the time I had no idea how difficult this would be. Over break I began contacting organizations that would be willing to accept the food. After finding several viable options I contacted Eli (who I think assumed I had forgotten about the project). He helped me work at some of the logistics of getting a donation.
I find food justice important because as someone who has food allergies I have to be aware of all food that I eat which has made me more in tune to others food related issues. This kind of work is done by Second Harvest in the city so, why can’t we do this at Sarah Lawrence? Also this project brings a more visible human element to the Compost Club.
N: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far? What challenges do your foresee in the future?
A: The biggest challenge I have faced so far is the school’s lack of willingness to donate this food that is going to waste because of their fear of a lawsuit. It is deeply saddening to me that we live in such litigious culture that we fear to help others because of fear of a lawsuit. This forced me to go back to the drawing board with the food collection and I am now trying to find an organization that is willing to pick up this amount of food. This may pose some difficultly but I am determined to make this project a success.
N: What are your goals both for the semester and in the long run?
A:I would like food to begin to be collected in the next two weeks on a weekly basis and hopefully by the end of the semester there will be multiple pick ups in a week.My goal is for this to be become an ongoing project at SLC where it continues to be done every year. I know that projects like this have been done in the past but, they didn’t last long.
N: What other avenues do you see to address the broader questions of food access and hunger?
A: To accomplish the goal of ending hunger would mean ending the problem of waste, restaurants and schools need to begin to donate their food to the hungry.
N: How can other students get involved?
A: At this point it is hard to say exactly what students can do to help as we are having to reconfigure our plans for donation. If students want to get involved they should email the Compost Club at firstname.lastname@example.org and they should only take what they plan to eat at Bates.
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