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Co-curricular Food Access Pedagogies: Hands-On Learning and Campus Gardens

Authors: Joan Welch*, West Chester University, Kimberly C Kutzler , West Chester University
Topics: Food Systems, Agricultural Geography, Environment
Keywords: Food System, Co-curricular pedagogy, Campus Food Insecurity, Food Recovery, Organic Campus Gardens
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


West Chester, Pennsylvania is a food desert with no grocery store within walking distance for students. Due to a combination of spatial and financial factors, there is notable food insecurity on campus. Co-curricular approaches to engaging student learning around these issues include the student-run Food Recovery Network; and the establishment of three organic gardens across campus. The Food Recovery Network recovers food from locations across campus and makes it available to students in need. Food is delivered to the Resource Pantry which makes food donations available to all students to reduce barriers to successful completion of university degrees. Successes include diverting hundreds of pounds of food from the landfill to feed people on campus. Students learn communication and organizational skills and experience the challenges of working with a large bureaucracy. The organic gardens are supported by faculty who supervise paid student interns. One garden produces food solely for the Resource Pantry. The other gardens are open to students, staff and faculty to learn about growing food organically, and how to harvest and prepare fresh produce. Students learn how to plan, design and plant a community garden, and harvest fresh produce. The gardens have produced one thousand pounds of fresh produce for the Resource Pantry and engaged hundreds of volunteers.

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