By Alice Wong
The end is nigh … and we’re so stoked for it. It’s so surprising and refreshing to see that we’re near the finish line after weekly meetings and several events in the past seven months. With next week being the culmination of two quarters worth of comprehensive and frequent research, the Sustainable Food Systems Team is ready to present our findings. The final report has been a valiant team effort and we’re really excited to get students and everyone else to become more conscientious about where and why their academic dues are going in the trash!
The two events that made us feel really satisfied with student outreach, interaction and education were the "No Food Left Behind" Challenge outside Covel Commons during the dinner shift, followed by the well-organized Ecochella concert at Sunset Recreation Center.
The crowds at both events were very different and we acknowledge these differences in our targeted audiences. During the "No Food Left Behind" Challenge, many students living on the Hill were very skeptical to even stop by the table even though we were stationed at the very entrance of the dining hall. However, during Ecochella, we had many more people come up interested in our research and were very enthusiastic to take our Apple Challenge.
A few of the questions I asked the people who partook in the Apple Challenge were: “Is this something you would pass on to your friends and family?” and “How else do you think food waste can be reduced based on your habits”? Responses from everyone were positive overall and were getting behind the message of sustainable food habits.
Then after Ecochella, I started to ask peers, classmates and strangers about food habits and food waste. Though many were unconvinced by the Apple Challenge at first, they eventually either experimented themselves, watched me eat an apple the 'correct' way, or looked online on their phone to gather more information. Many were amazed. Our biggest goal was to be approachable yet progressive and assertive; I think we achieved that.
The message definitely resounds in our team as seen by our exemplary waste when we had dinner at Covel after the No Food Left Behind Challenge.
We don’t expect the food culture and habits of the UCLA campus to collectively change just yet. But being able to provide a relevant final report accessible to students, faculty and everyone else is the first step for personal food habit awareness.