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Food Service Pioneer Bon Appétit Management Company’s Student Activist Grant Contest

Food service pioneer Bon Appétit Management Company’s Student Activist Grant contest drew inspiring entries, heated Instagram voting


No slacktivism here! Students around the country are eager to get their hands dirty to improve the sustainability of food on their college campuses.

Forty-nine student groups applied for Bon Appétit’s Student Activist Grants contest, held in honor of the 10th anniversary of our Fellowship Program. (Bon Appétit Fellows are recent college graduates who were sustainability champions on their Bon Appétit-served campuses.) The applications poured from all over the country, in the categories of campus farms and gardens, waste prevention and reduction, hunger and food insecurity, and food literacy, education, and advocacy. They ranged from low-tech (plants for a campus farm and reusable pans to transport donated food) to high-tech (a solar-powered ventilation system for hoop houses).

“We need things to inspire us and give us hope these days,” said Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio. “Reading these applications reminded me — and everyone else at Bon Appétit involved with this contest — that small, concrete actions by bright young people can have potentially big payoff in making our food system more sustainable and just.”

The past and present Bon Appétit Fellows narrowed the group down to 20 semifinalists. Voting opened Oct. 11 for the People’s Choice award, via Likes accumulated on project posts tagged #BAMCOStudentActivistGrants on Instagram. Wheaton College’s student government sustainability committee almost immediately took the lead and held it, ending the contest at 5,922 votes. The other nine winners were selected by Bon Appétit senior leadership based on the specificity of their projects, their estimated level of achievability, and the anticipated impact they would have on campus and/or surrounding community.

And the winners are (read more via the links below):

Case Western Reserve University (Humanitarian Design Corps Local Team): A solar-powered, temperature-responsive ventilation system that will allow the campus farm’s hoop houses to be used to their full potential year round.

Claremont McKenna College (Food Recovery Network): A brand new set of reusable, food-safe bins for transporting excess edible food from campus to hunger relief organizations.

DePauw University (Sustainability and Leadership Program): Purchase infrastructure for large-scale composting, including multiple compost bins, large heavy-duty tarps, red wiggler worms, shovels and pitchforks, and signage for the compost piles/windrows, to  be located at the campus farm.

Goucher College (Agriculture Cooperative): Make the 5,000 square foot campus farm a more inviting and healing space by buying more perennials, including fruit bushes; compost for the raised beds; seeds for annuals; and tools and other garden items such as a new wheelbarrow, hoes, stakes, etc.

Johns Hopkins University (Enactus JHU): Address food security in Baltimore by teaching residents how to grow fresh food at home by using a compact hydroponics system.

Fund a food waste awareness campaign, including educational information sessions, posters, waste audit materials (bins, gloves, and scale), and survey incentives.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD Net Impact & SCAD Back40): Pilot a kitchen food-scrap landfill diversion program for SCAD Back40, a flourishing organic farm, apiary, and model for sustainable food systems, including a coffee-ground compost system for mushroom farming.

University of Chicago (Phoenix Sustainability Initiative (PSI) – Service Group): Help buy  gardening supplies (e.g. seedlings, soil, tools) to engage Chicago elementary-school students in lessons on climate change, sustainability, natural gardening, and permaculture.

Wesleyan University (Long Lane Farm): Fund professional repair of Long Lane farm’s two hoop houses, which are crucial to the farm’s vegetable production in the winter and help it grow food for Bon Appétit, the North End Farmers’ Market, and Middletown food justice organizations.

People’s Choice Winner: Wheaton College (Student Government’s Campus Sustainability Committee): Build a campus garden, to give students the opportunity to participate in their own food production, address local food insecurity, and teach the importance of sustainability.

The grants will be distributed in November, and the winners will report back at the end of the academic year on their progress, which we’ll share on our company blog.

Congratulations to all of these passionate change-makers!

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