PROmotion

Sustainability (and such)

Food to Grow On 2.0

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on May 6, 2012

NOW I can see the need for sabbaticals:  Taking this break from teaching is recharging my brain and helping me build a better teaching philosophy and research agenda.   When I start again in the fall, it will be with renewed confidence and optimism about how to best juggle that slippery slope of delivering valuable content versus student-managed curriculum. 

To that end, I’m sharpening my immediate research agenda to focus on issues of sustainability and hunger.  As many of you know, I wrote a book (Food to Grow On, 1988) about healthy eating when my children were little; from there, I stepped away from an Earth Mother phase and am now looking at the effects of and solutions to empty stomachs in higher education.  Specifically, I’m studying how colleges (especially impoverished tribal colleges) are dealing with the hidden hunger amidst dorms and dining halls.

Yes, the grim statistics of “Third World” countries are happening here.  While the UN has global school feeding campaigns tying food to education and sustainable development, our own students are struggling with low food security.  The recession, increased competition for work-study positions, and fewer services/resources are accelerating the rates of hungry students and diminishing our learning communities as a whole.  And we’re talking beyond “typical” broke-student behavior of living off noodles and grubbing for free snacks; several colleges, including a four-year institution in Montana, report increased student attendance at lectures because those refreshments are their one-meal-a-day. Alternately, at a community college in Washington State, faculty approached the college foundation to ask what to do with students who come to them and say they are too hungry to do their work.

So, how is your college dealing with this?  Is Student Services taking the lead with a food closet?  Are individual faculty and staff donating peanut butter and apples in scattered efforts across campus?  Do you have ways to tie into local food producers?  And how are you dealing with student shame and privacy issues amidst perceived greater needs?

Working in education is a way of public service, and the essence of public service is to solve the issues that ail our society. My goal then for this effort is to develop enough strong research to satisfy grant funders who in turn may help colleges alleviate the issue of campus hunger with one-time or long-term funding.  Nourishing our college communities is nurturing our communities, our workforce, our future. Join me, and Global Spark, in this effort, in any capacity you’d like to join.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: