Reflections on Whole Foods Market 5% Giving Day

By: Katie Poirier, ASU Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership Certificate student

On Wednesday December 4th, a couple students and professors of the Food and Farm Immersion branched off during the morning and early afternoon to table at the newly opened Whole Foods Market in downtown Tempe, Arizona. The tabling event took place in the lobby of the market and intended to promote the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. A high rise sits over the Whole Foods Market and an escalator from the building leads right into the lobby. Many people were in and out with prepared lunches and beverages, as the hours we were there spanned lunch. Students, business people, and families passed through the lobby’s automatic doors, adorned with small pines and holiday wreathes.

The table was dressed with an ASU table cloth, a Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems poster, and dotted with festive floral arrangements. The display was attractive and also offered opportunities for people to sign up to learn more about the center’s work, events, and updates. In total, there were 16 people who signed up for this list. As shoppers shifted in and out of the store, those interested in learning more approached the table. It was a great opportunity to speak about the innovative programs beginning to take shape. I introduced myself as a student in the Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership Professional Certificate program. Kathleen spoke about the upcoming master degrees, partnerships, and other exciting projects. The audience most often approaching the table spoke about the necessity to change the food system, particularly around distribution and production. In addition, ASU faculty and employees stopped by to participate in supporting the programs as 5% day-of store proceeds went to the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. School of Sustainability team members made sure to swing by. They expressed excitement for the collaborative approaches embodied by the diversified faculty and staff.

As the lunch hour came to a close, fewer people frequented the store. We greeted them with either a hello or smile. Around 2:00 PM, we packed up the tabling materials and made for the next part of the Immersion tour, a food procurement and waste discussion at ASU Engrained.