By Taylor Herren, graduate student, Associated Students President
As a grad student at Chico State and serving my second term as Associated Students (AS) president, it may seem that I have my plate full. But as a matter of fact, I couldn’t be any more grateful to be in a position to serve my peers and providing a voice for the student body is really what keeps me going.
When student Grace Kerfoot became the AS Sustainability student dining coordinator last fall, she was immediately off and running on bringing more dining choices to Chico State.
A nutrition and food science major, Kerfoot was actively involved in events like Food Day and organizations like the national student group Real Food Challenge that celebrate and advocate for foods that are healthy, local, and green.
She had also already signed, along with many others, the “Real Food for CSUs” petition calling for the CSU system to set policy regarding sustainable food spending. But she knew that, in her new position, she could do more.
“Chico State is a small school with a unique food service operation and a drive for sustainability,” Kerfoot said. “This combination, linked with the fact that we live in California and are surrounded by some of the best produce year-round, is a recipe for success.”
Kerfoot forged ahead, tracking the success of current initiatives; promoting the local, organic, and fair-trade food products already being sold at campus convenience stores, cafes, and Sutter Dining; networking with sustainable vendors; and providing educational resources to the campus community on better food choices.
The myriad efforts by Kerfoot and AS Dining administrators throughout the past year resulted in a Best Practice Award in Sustainable Food Service this spring, around the same time the CSU Board of Trustees approved a long-awaited sustainable food policy that will govern the more than $100 million spent on food across the 23-campus system. Under the new policy, each campus will have until 2020 to ensure that at least 20 percent of all food spending goes to farms and food businesses that meet Real Food Challenge guidelines.
At Chico State, this will mean formally committing to the Real Food Challenge Commitment and figuring out exactly how far the University is from that 20 percent mark. AS Dining is already using the Real Food Calculator to track how much of its food is “real” and is well on its way toward the goal, said Eli Goodsell, who coordinates AS Sustainability efforts overall.
“We’re not at 20 percent, but we are doing a good job,” he says. “Our administrators in AS Dining are extremely committed to this process. We would have gotten there anyway.”
Examples of AS Dining’s current offerings that meet the Real Food criteria include the Marketplace Café’s weekly Local Lunch; organic beverages such as GT Kombucha and Guayaki tea; local, fair trade coffee; and veggies from the Organic Vegetable Project.
“Food is one of the largest overarching sustainability themes because everybody uses it, every day,” Goodsell said. “Eating local, organic, fair trade food is always better for our bodies, but it’s also better from an environmental and economic perspective.”
Kerfoot added, “At Chico State, people are making goals and seeing them through. For a long time, food was not really on the radar with sustainability, and now it’s taking center stage.”
Hello, my name is Taylor Herren, and I am honored to be serving Chico State as the Associated Students president for the 2013–2014 academic year. I would like to welcome our new students to California State University, Chico and congratulate our returning students for continuing on with their college education. It is a privilege to be representing each student, especially during a year that is going to be exciting and progressive for this institution. Each of us as students will have many opportunities to build character, provide service, work together, and utilize the exceptional resources and support available on this campus. I am proud to be a part of a university that is dedicated to providing students with an enriching experience that empowers each of us to take an active role in our educational experience.
Chico State is kicking off this academic year with an exciting week of events and activities offered as part of Wildcat Welcome. Students will have the chance to participate in a wide range of activities, including a welcome ceremony, advising and faculty meetings, the #wildcatstyle concert, a late-night movie, an involvement fair, the LeadCat Conference, and several Wildcat Recreation Center-sponsored events.
The week will come to an end with the Be Chico Day of Service on Sunday, Aug. 25. This will bring together campus and community volunteers to serve at different sites throughout Chico. Events like this showcase the collaborative relationships that exist between the University, the City of Chico, the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, and service providers and confirm each group’s commitment to giving back to our community.
This service project truly exemplifies what it means to be a Chico State Wildcat and is an ideal way to wrap up a week that is aimed at welcoming students and showing the value that this University puts on civic engagement. As Wildcats, the education we receive is not only about earning a college degree but also becoming engaged members of society. It is about giving back to the place that, as students, we will call home for four years and about showing respect to a community that lends itself so that each of us can learn and grow during our time at college.
“Being Chico” means that you are leader in this community and that you put an effort towards positively impacting the place you live. Last year was marked with many achievements, and our previous student body set a legacy that we will aspire to live up to throughout the upcoming year. I am certain that we, as the students this year, will exceed the expectations that have been set for us and continue to embody the Wildcat Way.
The Creekside Educational Garden is quite the hidden gem due to its location behind Colusa Hall. Directly south of Big Chico Creek sits an 8,000-square-foot section of land that has been set aside for this special project.
The project began in the spring of 2011 as the third part to the larger Creekside Plaza Landscape Project. Numerous faculty and department members, as well as the Mechoopda Indian tribe, worked together to create a garden using plant species that are historically found adjacent to riparian areas for this geographical zone. Such species include the California Poppy, the Valley Oak, and the Western Redbud.
Located throughout the garden are small informational markers, which give specific information for each plant, including the common name, the scientific proper name, and other interesting facts. There are also a few larger signs that map out the multitude of plants scattered throughout the garden.
The walkway, winding along with the garden, was inspired by Big Chico Creek, which sits only a few feet away. The overall aesthetic of this section of campus is soothing and reaffirms our strong connection with nature in Chico.
Recently, artists have applied to create a beautiful piece of public art for the garden. Three of the qualified artists have been chosen and are now working to develop project proposals, from which one will be selected. The installation of the selected piece will begin in the spring of 2012 and is scheduled to be finished by May.
If you have a spare moment or want to take a different route to class, meander over to the Creekside Educational Garden to soak in the calm environment and possibly learn a thing or two about plant species that are native to Chico.
This post is part of a recurring theme, Hidden Gems of Chico State.