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OCSE hosts Food Justice Week

| Friday, November 2, 2018

The Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) is hosting its second food justice week, which will include events to engage the Saint Mary’s community in the pursuit of access to quality food for all people.

Rebekah DeLine, director of the OCSE, said food justice week was an idea that came to her when she started working on Holy Cross Harvest.

“When I started here at Saint Mary’s in 2016, I inherited Holy Cross Harvest,” she said. “Holy Cross Harvest is a tri-campus effort to raise money and nonperishable food items for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana — basically a food drive.”

DeLine said she thought the idea of Holy Cross Harvest was great but that more should be done.

“It’s easy to just give the dollar in your pocket or the can of soup under your bed in your dorm room and not ever think about how you should change your life or be advocating for those who don’t have choices,” she said.

With this goal in mind, DeLine decided to expand the mission of Holy Cross Harvest.

“Last year, we brought Holy Cross Harvest under the umbrella of a week focused on food justice, which is the idea that everybody should have the ability to have and purchase and consume good, healthy, quality food,” she said.

DeLine said planning this year’s Food Justice Week was different than last year.

“Because this is our second year, we’re lucky that it’s not as hard as it was the first year,” she said. “It took coordination with the food bank. It took coordination with the Center for the Homeless. It took coordination with the Ministry Assistants and other groups on campus — the sustainable farm and composting crew.”

The efforts of Food Justice Week have to do with the campus community in addition to the surrounding community, DeLine said.

“There’s a group on campus working to develop a sustainable farm, and that farm will be located just north and west of the soccer field,” DeLine said. “They had a cover crop, which they plowed under, and now they need to plant another cover crop this year. … Students were able to go out [Tuesday] and spread clover seed that will then grow this fall and spring as a cover crop to restore the nutrients to the soil.”

In another component of Food Justice Week, Ministry Assistants in the residence halls went “reverse trick-or-treating” Thursday evening to collect items for Holy Cross Harvest, according to DeLine.

“Students — rather than giving out candy — either [gave] the change out of their pockets or whatever food that’s nonperishable,” she said.

Saturday, students will have the opportunity to “stuff a bus” with food items for the Center for the Homeless, DeLine said.

She said incentives beyond the satisfaction of knowing the benefit of donating to support the food bank are available to participating students.

“For every canned good, non-perishable item or dollar that they donate, students get a raffle ticket and put it in the raffle for one of four gift baskets,” DeLine said.

Donations of money and non-perishable food items will be accepted through Monday at the OCSE office and in bins located in all of the dorms on campus, DeLine said.

When it comes to measuring student participation, she said it’s hard to see exactly how many people are donating to these efforts.

“Unless they actually fill out a raffle ticket, we don’t know how many people individually have participated, but we think that a lot of students are participating,” she said. “We think that a lot of staff and faculty participate as well, especially with the nonperishable food items and making financial donations.”

The importance of events such as those of Food Justice Week can be seen in the writings of Pope Francis, DeLine said.

“Pope Francis calls this the ‘throwaway culture,’” she said. “We are challenged to live our faith in ways that impact the common good, and that means not only what we do with our time and energy, but how we are as consumers and how we might make an impact in terms of who we support and what we do. As a student, you could make an impact by making a donation, but you could also make an impact by supporting sustainable growing practices or supporting the local economy rather than big box stores

Unity Gardens and the Common Goods Coopertive are among the local organizations for which students can volunteer, DeLine said.

“It’s choices, not only with how you spend your money, but how you spend your time and your efforts so that if you’re not participating in the throwaway culture, maybe you’re counteracting that,” she said.

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