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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Students Against Food Insecurity works to educate AU student body on food rescue and importance of combating food waste

SAFI aims to partner with campus faith and identity-based organizations on advocacy issues, organization leaders said

At the start of spring semester, it can be helpful to have snacks during late night study sessions or a healthy breakfast to start the day — even if that food gets thrown out by the end of the week. However, many students across the country and in the DMV may not have that option. 

Students Against Food Insecurity, a new club on campus this semester, hosts programs with guest speakers and experts in the fields of sustainability and food security and waste.

SAFI’s club meetings are often service-oriented — such as baking biscuits and side items for delivery by Heal Da Homies, according to School of Public Affairs junior Will Rome, the co-president of SAFI.

For one of their big events of the fall semester, SAFI held an informational program “Let’s Talk About Food Insecurity” on Nov. 10 with Kate Urbank, the site director and web-app creator of Food Rescue US - D.C.

The event covered many issues such as understanding food rescue and the ways political campaigning and news coverage around food insecurity can shape the national narrative of the issue. 

“I think educating yourself is such an important step. That's a call to action that people think about,” Rome said. “The only thing that you really can do is to learn and go from there. I came to AU and I realized that the community that I always loved growing up with serving food to homeless shelters, and giving back to people, didn't exist here. So I had to create one.” 

In the future, SAFI hopes to work with faith-based organizations on campus.

“We want to try to bridge the gap between faith organizations and other identity-based organizations. A lot of our work this semester has been centered around really making ourselves known and trying to do things to give us a little bit of legitimacy,” said School of International Studies junior and SAFI Co-President Matt Colucci. “We really did not want to just like walk into this space about insecurity and have it be ‘Okay, let's hear these two white guys lecturing everybody.’”

In addition to working with identity-centered groups, SAFI wants to build a bridge between different environmental focused student groups at AU.

“In terms of a more short-term goal, I will say that it's to build a coalition of students on campus that are concerned with the state of food insecurity at AU and in the DMV,” Colucci said. “We have so many people on campus that are kind of in their own little hubs of food security activism, but there's really not like a web that connects all of these people, and so far, SAFI has been really trying to fill that role. And I think that we've been doing it well so far, honestly.”

Collucci also said SAFI is grateful for its connections with the newly-launched Center for Equity, Community, and Environment

“The excitement around SAFI has been really inspiring,” Colucci said. “I think it makes perfect sense and the right path forward is to be more involved in the Office of Sustainability and Zero Waste.”

Earlier in the semester, SAFI collaborated with AU Hillel on their “Hunger Action Shabbat”, where students could attend Shabbat services and donate non-perishable food items. They also worked with the School of Public Affairs Undergraduate Council to write a letter to the university on student-voiced concerns related to dining on campus. 

“What I want to do personally, is bring people who are doing things that are improving the lives of others. Being able to say look at this person, and listen to them speak because they're doing great things,” Rome said.

This story was edited by Kylie Bill, Olivia Kozlevcar and Nina Heller. Copy editing by Isabelle Kravis and Sophia Rocha. 

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