Food Day Blog Series: The Ins and Outs of Planning a Food Week at UCSD

September 23, 2011
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Jessica Baltmanas is a guest blogger from University of California, San Diego and also a Campus Coordinator for Food Day! Below is the second post in a three part blog series leading up to October 24 in which she will walk us through her journey in the real food movement. Take a look at her first post here.

Hi everyone! I hope planning your campus events has been progressing well and that you're enjoying the first days of Fall! There's been quite the progress in planning Food Day events at UC San Diego!

To contextualize the climate on my campus (literal and figurative), UCSD is located in La Jolla, close to the Pacific Ocean and boasting beautiful weather. Today is a gloomy day with drizzle, but we will get through it :) My campus mascot is a Triton, is full of imported eucalyptus trees and known for our 8-floor Geisel library, named for Theodor Geisel (Dr. Suess) and was featured in the movie Inception. Here, our favorite pastime is studying. If we're not talking about it, you know we are thinking about it. But not only do we love to learn, we have also been rated as the top national public university for "giving back". This is our culture- studying and service, and a few things in between. We have about 23,000 undergraduate students and 4,000 graduate students. With the workers and faculty included, our campus footprint is about 40,000 people each day. Yes, we are a city!

Although I would love if my campus felt more like a community, my two years here have not given me that experience. I hope the new admits bring a new energy, but it can be somewhat of a challenge to find a tight community here. Once someone finds it, it's golden! Those communities are often formed around student organizations such as food-minded orgs.

The real food movement at a student level became an issue on our campus around 20 years ago with the creation of the Neighborhood Community Garden behind the Che Cafe. In 2008, the Sustainable Food Project at UCSD was established and in 2010, Earl's Garden was created. So for us, the real food movement is still new and expanding as it becomes a subject and topic of classes and as organizations raise awareness. As involved as students are, there hasn't been much receptivity to invitations about getting involved in gardening and farming, and food-minded organizations have suffered from disappointment with this. The students represent the general American public where the majority are disconnected and uninterested with the food system- both conventional and sustainable. So, we view Food Day as our opportunity to seize the attention of the community to raise awareness and inspire action with the real food movement!!

We are specially crafting the calendar of events for Food Week in light of what UCSD is lacking. And what it is lacking is awareness of food issues, connection to opportunities for involvement, and sustainable food itself. Being sensitive to this, we are planning events that fit together.

Oct. 24: Food Day.

We plan to start off Food Day with a movie screening in our campus theater of GROW! The documentary tells the story of a new generation of sustainable farmers through the eyes, hearts and minds of 20 passionate, idealistic and fiercely independent young growers in Georgia. By showing a movie that focuses on college-aged farmers, the movie will be more relate-able to our viewers and will educate on the food system from a youthful perspective. After the screening, we plan to have a table set up in our Sustainability Resource Center for the Real Food Challenge photo petition. We also plan to have great food for attendees to dine on while they converse and take brochures and flyers about Food Day and Food Week events on our campus.

Oct. 25: Grow your own!

We plan to have a table in the center of our campus and give out pots, seeds, and nutrient-rich soil to provide people with the basics to start mini gardens at home. We will provide growing instructions, have pamphlets about Food Week and flyers for food-minded student organizations as invitations for involvement. This connects the movie from the night before about farmers to providing folks with the tools to grow their own food at home!

Oct. 26: Art & Food

We plan to have a "Real Food Mural" painting at a location on campus. I think it isimportant to incorporate art into movements and events because by contributing to the product, there is a sense of ownership and connection established. This mural will be transportable so that it can be displayed at food events to be a constant reminder of the unity that was involved in its creation.

Oct. 27: The many faces of food.

We plan to have a networking day focused on conversation and connections so that local organizations off-campus and student organizations can get in contact and discuss collaboration, internship, and job opportunities. It is a centralizing effort to get food-minded organizations and people in one room to start talking, and let the seeds sprout and flourish from there! This day will also consist of unveiling the Real Food Mural. We will celebrate and close off the week of events and talk about the importance of the continuity of the movement.

We are also planning a food expo during Food Week where our campus vendors will be able to connect with sustainable food suppliers. We are hoping to have major sustainable varieties showcased at this expo- such as rice and local fruits and vegetables. This is where connections can be made to implement real change in our campus food purchasing.

We hope this week will wake up our campus and produce beautiful fruit as the real food movement develops at UCSD. As we continue to develop and organize our plans, something we've been saying to ourselves is, "Food Day lives on after Food Day." By questioning how our events will impact the future, we are planning in light of ensuring the sustainability of the movement after the dust of excitement settles, if it ever does :-)

I can't wait for more development, and wish you all success in your planning.

Your friend in the movement,