Celebrating Local, Sustainable Food for Earth Month at ASU

Foodwaste Following a great success with the Rescued Food Feast Event last year, seven organizations came together to make the event even bigger this year with “Food Systems and Beyond” on March 29, 2017. The several stakeholders involved in this event were: the University Sustainability Practices, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Student Anti-Hunger Coalition, Changemaker Central, Sun Devil Dining (Aramark), and Zero Waste. Krista Hicks, Sustainability Manager for Aramark at ASU was one of the prominent figures who made this event possible. When asked about the idea and goal behind this event, Hicks said “Everybody eats, so tying in sustainable food to encourage sustainable behaviors is a great start for students looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Our main goal was to bring awareness that consuming sustainable food reduces negative environmental aspects of food production and helps foster robust local economies and food security.” “Food Systems and Beyond” was made to be a large scale kickoff for this year’s ASU Earth Month celebration focusing on the locally grown produce being served at ASU dining halls. The event featured several sustainable vendors, each set up with their own tables and giving out samples of their product. The main reason behind this was to promote sustainable food options and also to support local growers and local producers. The organizers also made sure to make education a part of the experience. At the dining tables, laminated cards with trivia-style questions were scattered. “How much waste do plastic water bottles contribute to landfills each year?” one asked. The answer was on the back followed by a suggested behavior. “3 billion pounds. You can help to minimize this waste by using a reusable water bottle. There are water refill stations throughout campus.” Diners could also spin a repurposed bicycle wheel to answer ASU Zero Waste trivia and win sustainable prizes. Lesley Forst, Program Coordinator for University Sustainability Practices, said that people should be well informed about food waste and food insecurity and be made aware of various sustainable food options either on campus or in local communities. “Whether it’s choosing to transition to a more plant based diet, starting their own composting, making an effort to store food better to prevent waste, or buying locally grown food, there are many options, and I’d hope visitors are now motivated to pursue at least one,” Forst said. Hosting an event this big is no easy task. The event gathered 700 attendees by bringing together sustainability stakeholders from across campus. “I think we were very successful though in leveraging each partner’s strengths, and we ended up with fantastic attendance and participation!” Forst said. The event coordinators mentioned a lot of opportunities for current students to get involved in sustainable food projects. Hicks urges everyone to join food-related clubs, volunteer at farmers markets, contribute to community gardens like the one at the Polytechnic Campus. She also encourages current students to look for opportunities at Sustainability Connect. Forst recommends students to involve themselves in service opportunities with Changemaker Central or join the Student Anti-Hunger Coalition. There are various opportunities in which ASU students and community members can contribute to a more sustainable world. ASU is currently third worldwide in sustainability initiatives, second in the USA according to AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. By creating awareness among people with these events and by expanding efforts to urge them to contribute to society, ASU can remain a global leader in sustainability for years to come.