October 26, 2023
Action teams are about collective power, and bringing people together to affect change.
Cross Campus Food Access Coalition
What about college students? How are they being included in the food justice picture? Anyone whose been a college student knows well the struggle to afford and access quality food. Many students are learning to cook and buy food for themselves for the first time. Their pockets are increasingly growing thin and their availability to take the time to eat something fresh and healthy is growing thin too.
The Cross Campus Food Access Team, also known as CFAC, is working to tackle this issue in the Twin Cities metro through education and programming. They recently received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health. They will be using these funds to hire someone who can help CFAC emerge through branding and building awareness. They also see some important intersections with their work, including climate change and farmland access. Following the plenum, on September 30th, CFAC attended an event, The [uncertain] Four Seasons, to talk with the community about climate action steps that people can commit to regarding food access. They continue to look for more opportunities to build awareness and improve the ways in which college students feed themselves.
Attendees of the plenum were excited about CFAC’s work, and especially interested in how youth education could overlap with what they’re already doing. There were discussions about how to make the transition from high school to college. There were also conversations about existing and potential food pantries at the college level and opportunities for partnerships and funding. One barrier to progress that was discussed was having contracts with large food service organizations, like Sodexo, that have control over how food is distributed, prepared, and priced. Suggestions were offered about negotiating these contracts so the source of food is aligning with the values of an organization (e.g., locally sourced, sourced from BIPOC farmers). One participant, Kyala Johnson from Griffith Foods said, “hold them accountable for what they want to do with this world.” This led to a conversation about the barriers to growing food, and how to create more opportunities for education and land access among students.
Some resources that were mentioned included:
- University of Minnesota’s SNAP-ed program, which could be useful for getting college students helpful food access resources.
- The Food Recovery Network, which is rescuing food from cafeterias and getting them into pantries, while paying a living wage to employees.
Overall, food access for college students is an ongoing issue that intersects many disciplines. The more perspectives we have working toward a better and brighter future for students, the better.