Francis Feast and Learn: Sustainability Teach-In and Local Foods Dinner

Loyola University Maryland

Date Created: May 21, 2018
Date Posted: May 21, 2018
Submitted by: Taylor Casalena
Sustainability Topics: Campus Engagement, Food & Dining
Content Type: Case Studies
Office or Departments: Dining Services, Sustainability Office

Project Overview

The Francis Feast and Learn is a sustainability teach-in and locally sourced meal, inspired by the life’s work of St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. The Feast raises awareness about issues of environmental justice and sustainability—on campus, locally and globally. The event is a fun and sensory experience that engages students in the many perspectives and disciplines that exist within the topic of sustainability. The event was developed collaboratively by various Loyola departments including student and staff representatives from Campus Ministry, Environmental Action Club, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Student Government Association, Residence Hall Association and Loyola Dining. The event has hosted 139 students over three years.

Background

The Francis Feast and Learn event was developed collaboratively by various Loyola departments including student and staff representatives from Campus Ministry, Environmental Action Club, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Student Government Association, Residence Hall Association and Loyola Dining. Loyola University Maryland offers a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, but there was an identified need for informal learning opportunities about environmental issues. Organizers designed an event that could introduce interested students to a variety of topics from the sustainability perspective, expand the network of sustainability minded students, faculty and staff, and provide a fun and informal learning environment for all. Each year the event is coordinated collaboratively by faculty, staff and students and hosted annually during the first week of October.

Goals

  • Introduce environmental thinking and sustainability to interested students
  • Provide a fun and informal learning opportunity
  • Strengthen sustainability community on campus
  • Highlight the intersection of sustainability and other disciplines and topics
  • Support local and sustainable producers
  • Highlight sustainable practices of our Dining service company

Implementation

Organizers meet early fall semester to discuss topics, presenters, menu and invitations.

Teach In Activities: Faculty and staff at Loyola University Maryland with personal or professional expertise in sustainability topics are invited to be facilitators at the event. Each facilitator creates a 20 minute learning module that is interactive, artistic, hands on or simply engaging for up to 10 student guests at a time.

Menu: Collaborators and organizers work with Loyola Dining to secure local, organic and seasonal dinner options. To reduce waste at the event real china and compostable serve ware have been used.

Student Guests: Students from all classes and majors are invited to RSVP for the Francis Feast and Learn. Once they arrive to the event students sign up for 2-3 teach in modules they would like to participate in. Students rotate through the teach in modules located around the room and are able to sample a variety of topics and ideas in the realm of sustainability in just one evening.

Timeline

Francis Feast is implemented over 8-10 weeks.

Prior semester: Hold brainstorm meeting to identify objectives, needs and target date for the event. Identify and apply for potential sponsorship and funding sources on campus for materials and dinner. Secure location reservation through campus scheduling or events office. Connect with Dining to develop local and seasonal menu and discuss low or zero waste event options.

Beginning of target semester: Reconnect brainstorm and coordination group. Identify potential facilitators and send out invitations. Create mechanism for guest registration to reduce food waste. Create marketing materials for the event and share through campus channels. Invite presenters and campus partners. Assign volunteers to help guide students through event, keep time and facilitate conversation.

1-2 weeks before target date: Assist facilitators and/or presenters with final details. Finalize menu and guest list. Send reminder email to guests.

Financing

The local foods dinner is the only cost for this event.

Supplying a local and seasonal dinner for 50-75 people w/ buffet service, drape and compostable serve ware costs approximately $1,000- 1,400.

The event is sponsored in part by a variety of campus departments each year. Past sponsors have included Center for the Humanities, Education for Life, Campus Ministry, Messina (first year living learning program), Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Mission Integration, Facilities/Sustainability and Loyola Dining.

Results

Students who have participated in this event have gained greater perspectives of sustainability through the lens of a variety of different disciplines and connect with sustainability minded faculty and students outside of the classroom. The local foods dinner also facilitated sensory and memorable interactions with the local landscape and local economy. Overall, participants developed a knowledge base of environmental issues from a variety of perspectives and lenses, connected with peers and faculty outside of the classroom and gained a greater understanding of the reach and impact of sustainability.

The Francis Feast and Learn has provided an interactive, community oriented and sensory sustainability learning experience for 139 students from all class levels and a variety of majors over three years. The event has hosted 14 facilitators from 10 unique campus departments and disciplines including Theology, Biology, Fine Arts, Writing, Community Service and Justice and Political Science.

Lessons Learned

  • Incorporate the familiar with the unfamiliar to create an event that is both inviting and interesting. (Pope Francis / Sustainability topics)
  • Utilize current events to prompt the teach in (Pope Francis Encyclical)
  • Interactive teach in style modules require at least 15 minutes to complete.
  • Invite faculty and staff from all over campus to propose module ideas - there are interesting "experts" in every department.
  • Providing unique information about the local food producers and/or inviting representatives to the dinner adds an important educational component to the event.
  • Facilitators should use creative titles for their activity modules to draw students to their table/topic and keep the event balanced.
  • The dinner can be a great opportunity to host discussion questions and community conversations about future campus initiatives.
  • Guests and facilitators will provide useful feedback if asked via email the following day.
  • Organizers should record what worked and what didn't and request and record feedback from facilitators and guests.
  • Use a digital or paper RSVP to identify and cater to food restrictions and reduce food waste.

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