In fall 2022, Dr. Megan Kendrick and students in the urban studies course Food and the City partnered with Woodbury’s Community Outreach Coordinator Alisa Sehgal to support campus greening and food security projects. Food and the City is a hybrid course (class discussions are held online and community work in-person) that looks at the way food production, distribution, and consumption impact environmental concerns, public health, and policy. As part of the class, students are provided with opportunities to work directly with food abatement programs. While in the past students have volunteered with organizations like Burrito Project, Food Forward, and MEND, Sehgal’s campus sustainability projects provided the perfect opportunity to focus those efforts right here at Woodbury.
In addition to serving as the Community Outreach Coordinator for Woodbury’s new Sustainability Programs majors, Sehgal also works with the Healthy and Sustainable Campus Committee. As part of that work, she established an edible garden and is working to distribute the produce to Woodbury students. To support these efforts, Dr. Kendrick’s students organized themselves into four teams. One team built a new planter box and made several trips to the L.A. City Sanitation site at Lopez Canyon to haul soil back to campus.
A second “garden team” planted new leafy greens and visited the garden regularly to water, weed, and care for the crops. The “produce plant team” finalized a design for a food cart with baskets that will store our campus harvests when they are ready for distribution. Finally, a “food distribution team” created a report about the problem of food insecurity on campus and proposed methods of notifying the student population when campus harvests are available. Sehgal said the project displayed the power of communal effort: “Many different skillsets made this collaboration a success. Design and build skills from the teams building the fruit cart and new garden bed, investigatory and analyzing skills from the research team, and plant care skills from the gardening team.”
“Having the students work in teams,” Kendrick said, “helped create a sense of community and purpose for the course, beyond our readings and weekly discussion posts.” Saad Ladhani, a student in the course, said he valued the collaborative aspect. “I collaborated with my classmates to design the cart, and then we all worked to put it together, so we all learned a lot. It was a great experience being able to work on the produce cart!” Student Annie Ho, who helped build a planter box, was happy to take a course that served the Woodbury campus: “This planter box will house new crops to help students and others in our community who are facing food insecurity.”
In addition to their campus work, the class also volunteered together at the L.A. Regional Food Bank, which Dr. Kendrick called “a very powerful experience.”
Last Updated on February 16, 2023.