Tables of planted herbs and message boards that asked, “What does food justice mean to you?” greeted students walking into Paresky Commons on Wednesday afternoon. The Food Justice Lunch, which called upon passersby to consider ways to achieve a healthy and more equitable food supply, focused on spreading awareness for food sustainability and justice.
Allison Guerette, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, helped to plan the event in conjunction with the Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) Office and the Brace Center for Gender Studies.
“The event provided information and activities to educate about food justice… I enjoyed teaching students how to plant lettuce, spinach, kale, and chives, and it was really fun seeing groups of faculty and students work together to identify daikon radishes, turmeric, and other produce,” wrote Guerette in an email to The Phillipian.
Cyrena Thibodeau, the Food Hub Coordinator for New Entry Sustainable Farming, has worked with Guerette to increase students awareness of food accessibility. According to Thibodeau, the purpose of the event was to start conversations about both the food we eat and how we get it.
“We’ve been working with Allison Guerette from the Sustainability Office to increase student awareness and just conversation around access to food and food sustainability, so where it comes from, who’s growing it, how it’s being sourced,” said Thibodeau.
LaShawn Springer, Director of Community and Multicultural Development and Associate Director of College Counseling, noted that the event was a continuation of this year’s discussions around equity in the food industry.
“[The] food justice luncheon was an attempt to continue the good conversations we’ve been having on campus since the food justice symposium, Non Sibi Day, and the food waste challenge. We really hope our community has a better sense of how food production affects the environment, particularly for vulnerable populations and how it is abundant for some and scarce for others,” wrote Springer in an email to The Phillipian.
In addition to learning practical skills from the event like planting leafy greens and other herbs, Springer reflected on the privilege that Andover students and community members have regarding food and food access. She also lauded Guerrette and the Paresky Commons staff for their work at the event.
“We’re fortunate to have three meals provided a day and that’s something I try not to take for granted because it wasn’t always a reality in my life. Ms. Guerrette did an awesome job coordinating the luncheon. I’ve learned a lot this year from her, including a quick crash course in how to plant and care for leafy greens today,” wrote Springer.
Thibodeau hoped that the event brought attention to food access, calling members of the community to reflect on their privilege and how to achieve greater equity in the food industry.
“I would really love to just inspire people to have conversations about food access… We’re sitting outside of this amazing dining hall and have this incredible access to all of this great food and produce and just to have people reflect on and think of what it means and how can we ensure that everyone can have the same access and privilege,” Thibodeau.
Brooklyn Wirt ’21 the luncheon to be a valuable step to informing the community about a privilege that is too often forgotten.
“I think this year people have been working a lot harder to see the places where Andover can improve when it comes to food waste. I think that as a school in general, we can kind of forget the place of privilege that we are at and the way that we consume things can be kind of unnecessarily wasteful… The food justice system that we’ve been going through this year with the symposium and with this presentation very much is showing that, and it’s helping to inform students about that,” said Wirt.