Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 22, 2021

SGA discusses proposals to improve University sustainability

By ARIJIT NUKALA | September 19, 2021

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A representative of Real Food Hopkins presented before SGA ideas on how to make food at Hopkins more sustainable. 

The Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly general board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14, to discuss a potential partnership with Real Food Hopkins, a sustainability bill initiative and a survey polling students’ thoughts on the University’s mandate to obtain COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Real Food Hopkins 

Real Food Hopkins is an organization founded in 2012 that began with the nationwide Real Food Challenge. The challenge encourages universities to spend their food budgets on sustainable, local, humane and fair food sources by 2020. As of 2020, Hopkins committed around 31% of their budget to “real food.” 

  • The University previously had a dining contract with Bon Appétit, a subsidiary of Compass Group, which organizes and operates the dining program. 
  • Due to the University’s contract with Bon Appétit expiring this year, Real Food Hopkins reached out to local vendors and the dining hall union to promote a transition to self-operated dining. 
  • President Daniels decided to transition the University to self-operated dining, which allows the University to build its own dining program from scratch. 
    • According to Casey Levitt, a member of Real Food Hopkins present at the SGA meeting, "[s]ince we’re starting from scratch, we have a big opportunity to advocate for what we want — support for food-insecure students, culturally relevant food, reduced waste. The scale of the amount of good that can be done here is huge.”
    • In an email to The News-Letter, Real Food Hopkins described how current employees will fare during the transition. “It's our understanding that all of the food service workers on campus will stay on and become university employees,” it wrote. 
  • Given the transition, Real Foods brainstormed a proposal that includes hiring a Baltimore food system specialist to source food locally, eliminating waste, promoting transparency into the new dining program and centering the program around students among other ideas. 
  • Real Food hopes to partner with SGA to increase awareness about their organization and its goals. 
  • You can help support the transition to self-operated dining by filling out Real Food’s petition.

Sustainability Initiative Bill

Junior Class Senator Talia Shadroui proposed a Sustainability Initiative Bill that would provide funding for a collaboration event between Residential Advisors (RAs) and SGA to promote student participation in sustainable behaviors. The event will take place outside Charles Commons, where RAs will give students reusable and customizable canvas bags, reusable water bottles and candy. 

  • The bill passed. 
  • The event will take place on Sept. 24 at an undecided time. 
  • “[The] event is to help students partake in sustainable behaviors such as using reusable bags when grocery shopping, learning how to sort their trash and using reusable water bottles to minimize plastic use,“ Shadroui said.
  • Shadroui “hopes this will help support [students] in creating a sustainable behavior change.”

Vaccination Mandate Survey

The Vaccination Mandate Survey proposed by Junior Class Senator Peter Huang aims to provide feedback so that SGA can address the concerns of international students who were required to receive a FDA-approved vaccine upon their arrival to Hopkins despite already being vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. 

  • Huang said the questions on the survey “will allow students to fully reflect their concerns, experience and comments regarding the vaccine mandate.”
  • The survey is currently in its draft phase and is pending approval from SGA Faculty Advisor Carolyn Harris and administrative leaders. 
  • “From the responses, we [SGA] hope to take further action on the issue,” said Huang. 
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