Shocked by the findings in a 2015 national health survey on college campuses, Kasey Stewart wanted to get involved.
A National College Health Assessment was conducted by The American College Health Association on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus. According to the survey, only 4 percent of UWO students reported eating the recommended amount (5+ servings) of fruits and vegetables daily.
Stewart, an environmental studies major and a Student Titan Employment Intern (STEP) in the Sustainability Office at UW Oshkosh, pulled together an event in Reeve Union to introduce students to food choices that would be better for their health and the environment.
“We came up with the idea of having students sample locally grown, sustainable veggies to increase awareness of local farmers, food and seasonal availability,” Stewart said.
Through her research on healthy food options at UW Oshkosh, Stewart learned that only a small percent of dining dollars are spent on fresh produce and local foods, which is why putting together an on-campus event to feature fresh, local food was so important to her.
The event came together and was held near the end of last year’s growing season by partnering with Ben Rush from the Winnebago City Health Department, and then finding community farmers and businesses to help out carry out the project.
“We partnered with two local farmers–Olden Produce and Boerson Farms–for produce donations. Some herbs from the UWO Community Gardens were also provided,” Stewart said. “We then had assistance from Becket’s Restaurant to prepare the food.”
With food options available, a few tables were set up in Reeve Union–a high traffic area for UW Oshkosh students–with fresh cooked vegetables, some of which were potatoes, beets and carrots. Students and faculty stopped by for an afternoon snack and while they were snacking Stewart, Rush and other volunteers discussed the importance of eating local and consuming more produce.
Stewart hopes that she helped participants discover vegetables that they may not have eaten before and got them to think more deeply about what they eat and where their food comes from.