By: Cassie Stolz
For most, college is the first-time young people can make choices about the food they consume. No parents are here grocery shopping at farmers’ markets, food co-ops, or preparing meals from their gardens. On the other hand, there are those who are limited to buying processed, GMO foods. Perhaps that is all they can afford, have access too, or simply are choosing convivence over health. No matter what a students’ background, college should provide the food diversity that represents their student’s diversity. Granted Thiel has done a great job collaborating with the exchange students in bringing a variety of food culture to this small campus in Pennsylvania. With a global shift from the pandemic on one’s health, Thiel is already changing many ways of conducting the campus. Why shouldn’t a reformation of the food system be one?
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst was featured on The Today Show for their quality options. Their commitment to providing local and unprocessed foods in their dining halls is an intrinsic idea. UMass Dining has invested over $4.5 million in local and sustainable foods. With more than half sourced from the surrounding area. A majority of that money was allocated through grand funded programs. UMass even offers a How-To-Guide, allowing other institutions to implement a similar food service model for their students. Thiel and UMass are both located in rural farming rich communities. Students and faculty are dedicated to being part of the change to improve the environment and total overall human health. Since their reformation model excelled, it is a safe prediction that a pilot program through Thiel would excel as well.
· You are what you eat: Spending all day confronting challenging mental tasks, the brain’s nutritional demands are greater. Only providing access to processed foods (this can include fruits and vegetables) does not provide students with the tools they need to succeed.
· Helping the community: Outsourcing locally could make a positive impact on the community. There are countless beef and dairy farms, chicken and pig farmers. Corn, soy, and bean fields are everywhere with farmers who would enjoy contributing to a local institution. In Mercer county, there are greenhouses who value growing fresh fruits and vegetables to sell to locals. There are a few Alumni who now specialize in hydro and aquaponics growing microgreens who have expressed interest in giving back to the Thiel community.
· Adding value to Thiel’s campus: Part of other institution’s success has been contributed by on campus gardens. We already have a greenhouse so we would be able to grow produce throughout the coldest, non-growable months. Students can learn viable life skills about growing their own food. And it would also add to our biology departments niche through aiding in hands on sustainability practices.
· There are none. This is a fantastic idea.