Currently, 31 percent of MSU’s student body lacks access to affordable, nutritious food. This is double the national level, of 14.5 percent, and the state at 14.1 percent. On April 17, The Bounty of the Bridgers, a club with missions to create solutions on campus related to food access and food waste, discussed food insecurity on MSU campus and the efforts to minimize this obstacle.
The talk began with a documentary, featuring current MSU students and their obstacle with food insecurity. One student stated that “[I haven’t] spent money on textbooks in three semesters, because I’d rather spend it on other necessities.” Another student explained how food insecurity isn’t limited to feeling a starving pain, but “pain of my body not being nourished.”
Through capstone classes in the Department of Health and Human Development, MSU has produced audits to measure the amount of food waste in Miller Dining Hall. In 2015, there was 1,700 pounds of waste over the course of three days, equaling 60,000 pounds per semester. After their intervention and the new design of Miller, there was a 17 percent drop in post-consumer waste.
During this audit, they also surveyed student attitudes regarding food waste and found that 83 percent found the campaign effective, 90 percent are concerned about food waste and 84 percent support on-campus composting.
Currently, there are composting pickups at Miller, Sola, Union Market, the Library and Harrison Dining Hall. These efforts have resulted in 2,600 pounds per week, totaling 40,000 pounds of waste diverted to compost since November 2016.
During their discussion panel, The Food Resource Council President Teale Harden, spoke about the Sharemeals app that she thinks would be a great resource for MSU students. The app was developed out of New York University as “Uber for food.” This app works by displaying the campus on a map, and advertising leftover food. For example, if culinary services has an event with leftover food, they would use the app to alert students when and where the food is available for free consumption.
The panel also discussed the stigma surrounding food resources. One member of the audience said, “I do believe that there is a stigma to going to the food bank. Sometimes I feel guilty when I try to get help; I get embarrassed because other people may appear more distraught than I do, as I’m playing on my iPhone, but I still need food.”
Jill Holder, the operations manager for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank added, “all of us at the food bank feel very passionate to help everyone. The lobby is varied. I want the lobby to look like everyone in our population.”
For more information, email: foodresourcecouncil.msu@gmail or add the Facebook page Bounty of the Bridgers: A Food Resource Council at MSU.