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Student view: Connected to food

March 17, 2022 - Spencer Good and Aditi Kulkarni

headshot of Spencer Good

Spencer Good (he/him/his) is a second-year student at James Madison College with an expected graduation date of May 2023. He is majoring in political theory and constitutional democracy with minors in religious studies and science, technology, environment, and public policy (STEPP). Good is currently a government affairs intern at the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and works under the direction of Dr. John P. Jackson Jr. as an undergraduate research assistant. 

Aditi Kulkarni (she/her/hers) is a second-year student at James Madison College with an expected graduation date of May 2023. She is majoring in comparative cultures and politics with minors in Spanish and economics. Kulkarni is an undergraduate research assistant at MSU in addition to being the co-founder of the Spartan Food Security Council and the vice president of Her Campus MSU. 

photo of Aditi surrounded by flowers

We haven’t always felt connected to our food until recently. Through only three semesters in James Madison College, our subconscious love for what we eat has become apparent. Thanks in large part to our learning in MC 202 that was related to global hunger, as first-year students, we reached the understanding that food is inseparable from any given aspect of life.

Today, we find ourselves as second-year students passionate about food security, which in our opinion is among the most nuanced and unattended policy matters. As students of public affairs, we feel compelled to apply our knowledge and advocate for much needed social and political change. Simply put, it is our goal to make Michigan State University and the greater Lansing area more food secure.

In October, we founded the Spartan Food Security Council, but not without a fair share of obstacles that come with starting any new organization. Learning how to recruit and retain members, promote meetings, and connect with other organizations within our community came in time. 

We wholeheartedly believe that this experience benefits us as students and is preparing our members for careers in dietetics, legislation, law, social work and so forth. Our organization's initial and continued success can be attributed to our enthusiastic, tight-knit team as well as our faculty adviser Professor Daniel Ahlquist. We also acknowledge that JMC has equipped us with the tools to grow as an organization and as student activists.

Our mission is to “achieve greater food security on campus and in the greater East Lansing area by means of advocacy, education, lobbyism, research and philanthropy.” The Spartan Food Security Council is hard at work this year to fulfill this imperative. Last semester, we began navigating the complex food security landscape at Michigan State University, namely by connecting with other organizations such as Student Organic Farm, Capitol Area Prescription for Health and the MSU Student Food Bank.

We find ourselves currently working under the direction of Professor Rashida Harrison, chairperson of the Race in the 21st Americas Conference. She has entrusted us with the opportunity to showcase the keynote address centered around this year’s theme “Race and Rights: Empowering Our Communities.”

If you are interested in learning about the intersection of food, land, racial and social justice, join the Spartan Food Security Council on Monday, March 28 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Club Spartan, located on the third floor of Case Hall, for a viewing of this year’s Race in the 21st Americas Conference keynote address.

Naima Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, an Afro-Indigenous centered movement committed to ending food apartheid, will address uprooting racism in connection to food sovereignty and land stewardship. Curious students and faculty of all academic backgrounds are encouraged to attend. We ask that those interested in partaking, register ahead of time. Immediately after Naima’s address, questions will be fielded by the council, some of which she will answer live during her discussion with shane bernardo, co-founder of Food As Healing, to be held virtually on Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m. 

Refreshments will be served before the keynote, which will begin promptly at 6:15 p.m.. Mask wearing is strongly encouraged, as is social distancing when possible.

We are so excited for you to join us in commencing this year’s Race Conference. Until then… Go Green!