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Food and my thoughts of Bryn Mawr

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Julia Fahl


  Sustainability at Bryn Mawr College: A work in progress led by students


   I am so lucky to be going to a school like Bryn Mawr College, which has a clear statement about providing environmentally friendly alternatives in the dining halls and is clearly conscious of its impact on the community and the world. It is not the administration but the women inside BMC that make goals like this possible. Bryn Mawr is a completely student governed campus, so without real activism on the students part, this issue would have gone unrecognized. It will be a process to realize such a lofty goal, but as long as Bryn Mawr women remain active and adamant about obtaining better food and staying environmentally aware, then we can achieve that goal!               

             Currently Bryn Mawr College provides a myriad of events and choices for students who want to be as environmentally alert as possible. This includes bio-degradable takeout containers, organic and locally grown food, and accessible recycling. At the end of customs week all of the new freshmen were greeted with a picnic on Erdman green. The picnic included only local food, and even offered freshmen the opportunity to become part of the local food community and see where the local food is grown and even plant their own herb garden.  That experience showed me how committed Bryn Mawr was to a sustainable future. “That’s more than I can say for Kutztown” – Katie Youndt a sophomore at Kutztown University. For Bryn Mawr’s small size, it is impressive to me that the there are so many options being offered and more on the way. Although Bryn Mawr College is nowhere near 100% sustainable, the steps being taken are an admirable beginning in the struggle against leaving a carbon foot print.           

     Food is an especially difficult to move from the generic over-processed foods to more sustainable fare. The cost alone is astronomical for feeding 1300 students. The cost of offering a solely organic or local food would increase that amount drastically. Bryn Mawr students however, took on the challenge of presenting local foods as much as possible. So far I have seen organic milk, organic soy and tofu, locally grown apples and a buffet of locally grown, vegan friendly food at Haffner Dining Hall. It is a work in process, and more options are offered each year.          

   These leaps and bounds could not have been made without the incredibly dedicated student government, which is unique to Bryn Mawr College. The self-governance at Bryn Mawr stress student activism, especially during Plenary. Plenary is forum that occurs twice a year, during which each Bryn Mawr student has an obligation to vote on issues such as curriculum, faculty appointments and social changes on Bryn Mawr’s campus. It was during Plenary 2005 that the issue of sustainability was broached. In three years women at Bryn Mawr have taken this issue very seriously. In each dorm a representative is appointed to the Recycling Board. Students who work in the dining halls are striving each day for a more eco-friendly meal; there has even been talk about a composting program.  A composting resolution for Plenary is already in the works by some of the seniors who work in Erdman dining hall. I mentioned early that I am lucky to go to a school with such a commitment to improvement. With this privilege comes a responsibility to be an active member of the Bryn Mawr community. I have been voted as Freshman Representative for my dorm, I plan to work with Erdman’s workers to realize the composting program.          

   Bryn Mawr and the United States in general, have a long way to go before true sustainability can be actualized. But I am proud to be a part of a campus that takes this issue so seriously.  Every time that I walk by the recycling bins scattered along my hall, I am warmed with the knowledge that we are taking necessary steps. It is the pro-active women on campus that I have to thank. I plan to do this with matching their level of vigor and courage.