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From Farm to Landfill: Results of a Campus-Community Awareness Event to Promote Sustainable Food Systems

Background: Research shows that consumer interest in locally grown foods has been increasing. However, opportunities to learn more about local food systems are scarce and rarely connected across research, teaching, and practice.
Methods: To increase awareness of local, sustainable food systems resources and student engagement in community efforts, a campus-community educational event was held in spring 2017. Event participants completed surveys to report on knowledge of food production, distribution, consumption, recovery, and waste management.
Results: In a retrospective pre-posttest, participants (N=29) reported increased awareness of campus and community resources and intention to adopt encouraged practices such as growing their own plants (73.9%), adopt a healthy habit (73.9%), research more on sustainable food systems (91.3%), and reduce food waste (65.2%). Event networking resulted in various collaborations including an interdisciplinary campus sustainability project on food recovery, community engagement internships, and volunteer opportunities for students.
Implications: Community-academic partnerships and initiatives can incorporate an educational component for students to apply course principles into practice-based projects and events. This study provides an example to further connect research, teaching, and practice regarding food systems-related work and sustainability efforts. Similar opportunities can be provided to promote sustainable campuses and communities.