Three tiers of nine baskets full of tomatoes, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and various red and green peppers

Sustainability Fair Focuses on Justice and Equity

October 26, 2021
By: Rebecca Cross

On Oct. 20 and 21, during an unseasonably warm week, Worcester State hosted its 14th annual Sustainability/Food Day Fair.

This year’s theme was Food Justice, Racial Equity, and Climate Change. The focus on justice and equity aligned with the University’s goal, outlined in its 2021–25 Strategic Plan, of creating a more equitable and inclusive campus. The theme highlighted the links between climate change, systemic racism, and poverty, recognizing that those living in poverty are disproportionately affected by food insecurity, one of the effects of climate change.

The two-day event, presented by the Sustainability Office; the Earth, Environment, and Physics Department; the Urban Action Institute; and Chartwells, invited students and the campus community to consider the causes and effects of inequity and climate change and to imagine a sustainable—and more just—future.

Worcester State faculty from a variety of departments presented talks on topics including climate catastrophe and racial capitalism, creating inclusive and just local food economies, climate change and infectious disease, greener consumer choices, reducing food waste on campus, the gendered politics of food justice, and colonialism and the secondhand clothing trade in Ghana. All 18 talks were simulcast over Zoom for people who could not attend in person.

Fair attendees could learn more from local green businesses at exhibitor booths in the Student Center. “I’ve definitely learned things I didn’t know,” said first-year student Alexandra Jean-Louis.

On Lancers Landing, Chartwells, Worcester State’s dining services provider, served locally sourced food, including vegetarian options. A farmers market gave the campus community the opportunity to purchase fresh local produce, including pumpkins, squash, peppers, maple syrup, and apple cider.

“The farmers market is always a big hit,” said Meghan Telemaque, director of marketing with Chartwells. Junior George Chyoghly said, “I know some local food producers, and I like seeing local produce promoted.”

Other activities included an electric car show, including an all-electric WRTA bus, sponsored by MassEVolves; e-bike test drives sponsored by Fifield Electric Bikes; and a hike hosted by the WSU Hiking Club.

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