Worcester State University students decorate water bottles at Sustainability and Food Fair.

Two-Day Fair Draws Large Crowds for Green Activities and Activism

October 25, 2016
By: Guest Contributor

The ninth annual Sustainability and Food Day Fair at Worcester State University drew more than 1,000 students, staff, and faculty members to the Student Center last week for two days of food, fun, and education.

“Student visibility [for this event] has grown more and more each year,” said Sustainability Coordinator Steven Bandarra. “It really shows how our students are interested in having a greener and cleaner campus, a better world.”

“We also have strong support from the faculty for this event, which we very much appreciate,” he added.

Associate Professor of Earth, Environment, and Physics Patricia Benjamin, Ph.D., coordinates the fair’s faculty “teach-ins,” which showcase the research and perspectives from a variety of academic areas. While climate change and food sustainability are subjects that are traditionally relegated to the realm of environmental science, this year’s teach-ins expanded beyond the sciences, featuring presentations from professors of the communication, English, sociology, nursing, and psychology departments, to name a few.

“The point of the teach-ins, and the Sustainability and Food Day Fair, is to raise awareness about environmental and food sustainability,” Benjamin said. “The subjects for the teach-ins are a combination of faculty research, community groups, and general awareness so as to educate our campus community.”

New activities for the event this year included a “green” product giveaway raffle, a test drive of electric vehicles (sponsored by the Sierra Club), and, as suggested by a student, a special screening of the Disney/Pixar film “Wall-E.”

“It’s a topical and wonderful movie that everybody loves, so why not? It’s a fun way to raise awareness about environmental sustainability,” Bandarra said.

Maureen Power, a recently retired professor of urban studies and an event coordinator, marveled at the growth of the event since its inception nine years ago. She moderated a panel for the final presentation titled “Making Food Policy Work,” which featured representatives from the Worcester County Food Bank, Central West Justice Center, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and the WSU Hunger Outreach Team.

“Dr. Benjamin and I have always understood sustainability and food justice to be inextricably linked, and it was our inspiration to create this event,” she said. “Thanks to Pat, this event has grown beyond anything I could have hoped for.”

This year, all of the sustainability events took place inside or near the Student Center over the course of October 19-20. The food-related offerings, prepared by WSU’s dining services provider, Chartwells, showcased a wide array of locally sourced food on the Student Center patio on October 19 and at every station in the dining area in Sheehan Hall on October 20.

The event is organized by the WSU Office of Sustainability, Conference and Events Services, Department of Earth, Environment, and Physics, the Intergenerational Urban Institute, and Chartwells.

The full schedule of events can be found at worcester.edu/sustainability-food-fair.

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