Food insecurity is a pressing issue in North Carolina. In fact, Greensboro, NC—where Ginger Mandel ’09 attends Guilford College—has one of the highest food hardship rates in the country (2016 Index of Food Hardship from the Food Research & Action Center). Many families do not know where their next meal is coming from, and food banks cannot always fill the demand.
When her mother told her about Food Recovery Network (FRN), Ginger knew she wanted to start a chapter at Guilford. In 2011 the Food Recovery Network was started by students at the University of Maryland to “fight waste and feed people.” Now FRN’s 230 student groups around the country recover surplus food (for example, uneaten food from a school’s dining hall) and redistribute it to hunger-fighting organizations.
Ginger’s chapter of FRN at Guilford is just getting started. Ginger, a Sustainable Food Systems and Creative Writing major, knew many people who were interested in sustainable farming, composting, and related issues: “I thought that this would be a good thing to start because it would bring people with the same interests together. It would also help people in the wider Guilford/Greensboro community.” Next fall, the group will begin by working with the college cafeteria and weighing the food waste they produce each day. “This will make more people aware of what we’re doing,” explains Ginger.
When she returns to Guilford, Ginger will also continue with her studies. Requirements for the Sustainable Food Systems major include a course called Sustainable Regional Food, two farm practicums, an approved internship or study abroad program, skills courses, and electives. General Botany, the Chemistry of Food and Cooking, and Modern Environmental Problems are some of the options she has to choose from.
In the meantime, Ginger has been back in DC this summer interning at Washington Youth Garden. Weeding, harvesting, and sifting compost are all part of a day’s work. Ginger says, “I love feeling like I accomplished something that day—and the connectivity to the earth that is so important.”