USC is working to encourage healthier food options and more sustainable practices while involving the surrounding community, as discussed at a panel Thursday.
The Graduate and Professional Student Senate hosted The Politics of Food on Thursday, discussing the idea of using food grown in the local community.
The panel included Kris Klinger, director of USC Hospitality; David Sloane, professor from the School of Policy Planning and Development; Anne McKnight, assistant professor of East Asian languages and literatures and comparative citerature; and Florence Nishida, community leader and gardener who has worked on previous projects with McKnight. The discussion was moderated by Garrett Broad, a graduate student studying communication.
Klinger told the audience of about 60 people about the various USC Hospitality policies and programs. He said USC wants to utilize tray-less dining and local sourcing more on campus. The university already receives some food from local growers, but Klinger wants to get the majority of USC food from local markets.
USC’s Master Plan also includes renovating the University Village to create space for community gardens and local farmers markets.
“As the new area is being planned, using gardens and using the local community will be important,” Klinger said, “There’s a disconnect between the community and USC, and USC needs to embrace the surrounding community and introduce to students smaller, local restaurants and food sources.”
“We have a long way to go, but we have to create a plan to get where we want to be,” Klinger said. “We can’t just get there overnight.”
Nishida spoke about her experience as a gardener and her mission to create local community gardens, especially in the neighborhoods near USC.
“L.A. is the perfect place for us to grow our own food,” Nishida said, “I would love to see a vegetable garden in everyone’s front yard.”
McKnight discussed the role of globalization in the food system and how sustainability affects countries outside of the United States, namely Japan. McKnight teaches two classes at USC that focus on this topic, and students in her class have been working in the community garden near Shrine Place.
“As food is a medium, we can have a new understanding of L.A.’s relationship with food and with the world,” McKnight said.
Some students from McKnight’s class were at the event, saying that they have had experience working in these community gardens.
“We started working once a week in the community garden and we realized how easy it is to build and maintain this garden,” said Kelsey O’Donnell, a senior majoring in global health.
Some students and faculty, though, have already found local food alternatives such as The Mercado on Grand Avenue, which offers local food markets and restaurants, according to Sloane.
These varying perspectives on food, health and sustainability were exactly what GPSS had in mind when creating this event.
“You can’t just look at food from one point of view; you really have to look at food holistically, as it affects more than one discipline and industry,” Sloane said.