Hopkins Dining is hosting a series of events and initiatives this semester in order to engage the student body. These include cooking classes and a “Dine with the Chefs Dinner” as well as a tour of Redlands Farm in Stevenson, Md.
Students responded to these efforts in interviews with The News-Letter.
Real Food Hopkins is a chapter of the larger Real Food Challenge movement, which seeks to promote the use of local, ecologically-sound and humane food sources over factory farming and unhealthy foods.
Senior Katie Smith is an executive board member of Real Food Hopkins. Smith believes that Dining’s efforts are valuable to students.
“It can be easy to become so removed from our food and the cultures, resources and people it’s tied to. I think that interacting with the people who plan and prepare our food and seeing a very small example of where our food comes from is a step in the right direction to a more conscious food system,” she said.
However, Smith made it clear that although she applauded what was being done, there were still larger sustainability issues at play.
“Our dining department and our Bon Appétit staff do an impressive job of listening to students’ concerns and working within the system that we have, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t further work to challenge that system,” she said.
Dining hosted a free tour of Redland Farms, which is located in Baltimore County, last Friday. Students who signed up were able to see the greenhouse, farm and chicken coup, and get insight on where their food is coming from.
The tour group departed from campus at 10 a.m. Since the tour was scheduled for three hours in the middle of the day on Friday, it conflicted with classes for many students, preventing some interested students from attending.
Sophomore Izzy Geada expressed her frustration about the inconvenient time.
“I honestly think that they didn’t want people to go to it.... If they actually wanted students to go to it, they would have made it a more accessible time,” she said. “I don’t really know how much actual impact [the events] will make, other than just for show.”
Geada said that if Dining and Bon Appétit truly wanted to help students, they would offer more food options to vegetarians like her, and to other students with food restrictions. She explained how being forced to have a meal plan as a freshman locked her into a very limited set of meal options.
“Last year I felt very malnourished honestly. I did not feel catered to. Going to the FFC wasn’t a good time for me. I never found something good for my diet, so definitely having no meal plan has been better for me nutritionally and health-wise,” she said.
Junior Lana Weidgenant, co-president of the animal advocacy club Compassion, Awareness, and Responsible Eating (CARE), was also unhappy with the farm trip.
“CARE is not supportive of the meat-farm tour. CARE instead supports the transition towards a plant-based diet wherever possible,” she said.
Weidgenant explained that plant-based diets not only lessen animal suffering, but also are healthier and more environmentally sustainable.
Although campus cafeterias already discourage eating meat on Meatless Mondays, Weidgenant thinks more can be done.
“More support for delicious plant-based diets is definitely needed, on days aside from Mondays,” she said. “Eating more plant-based is healthier, more sustainable and one of the most impactful ways, without a doubt, to reduce your environmental footprint and the greenhouse-gas emissions.”
Hopkins Dining did not respond to a request for comment by press time.