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Carleton College to host Community Meeting on “Weaving a Sustainable Food Web”

September 20, 2011

This Friday, September 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Severance Great Hall, Carleton College will bring together local students, teachers, parents, and food activists to talk with each other and hear from keynote speaker Holly Lasagna of Bates College in a presentation titled "Weaving a Sustainable Food Web." The event, jointly sponsored by St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, will focus on coordinating efforts to bring healthy, local food to Northfield citizens. Students, educators, farmers, and parents have already done outstanding work to improve nutrition in our area and this event will encourage attendees to work more broadly to create and support a local sustainable food system.

Nate Jacobi, Associate Director for Civic Engagement at St. Olaf, believes that this event can help deepen and expand campus-community collaborations around food and nutrition issues. According to Jacobi, “Students at both colleges are very motivated to create more sustainable food systems and this event will be an opportunity for community food and nutrition advocates to explore collaboration with students and faculty to further their goals.”

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., Carleton and St. Olaf students will present work they have done through partnerships with local schools and Rice County’s HealthFinders Collaborative to teach community members about nutrition, as well as initiatives within the colleges to support the production of local food.

At 6 p.m., featured guest Lasagna will share her reflections on coordinating a three-year sustainable food partnership between Bates and several other colleges, along with the town of Lewiston, Maine. With particular awareness of the challenges facing the town’s immigrant population, Lasagna and her partners began by assessing the problems of food scarcity in the area. They have now moved on to planning a sustainable food network for Lewiston, and are excited to soon implement their response.

From 7 to 8 p.m., the evening will conclude with working group discussions involving all attendees. Facilitators will note small groups’ thoughts on the challenges facing Northfield, the opportunities available to the community, and the next steps the community can take to realize its vision. “Working with students who have been in these community partnerships, it’s clear that nutrition education for our children is important. But it can only go so far if healthy foods are not available in the home,” explains Adrienne Falcon, Director of Carleton’s Office of Academic Civic Engagement. “We’ve got the experiences, partnerships, and funding we need to start thinking and acting more systematically.”

This event was made possible by a grant awarded to St. Olaf, Carleton, Northfield Public Schools, St. Dominic School, and HealthFinders Collaborative from Learn and Serve America. Growing Up Healthy has been instrumental in both logistical arrangements and community outreach. This event is free and open to the public. If interested in attending, please RSVP to Soraya Dangor of Growing Up Healthy, at soraya@growinguphealthy.org.