This Saturday, UC Sustain Our Students along with the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District, A.S. Finance and Business, Environmental Affairs Board and A.S. Program Board held the Food for Freedom Fair at Anisq’Oyo’ Park. The event offered not only free food, but also speeches on food justice and information on various organizations and food resources around campus.
Despite the rather cold and cloudy weather, I arrived to the event to find it bustling with people. The usually empty park was filled with tables and tents, leaving me to figure out where it was I wanted to start. My nonexistent breakfast and the subsequent growling of my stomach made that decision easy for me, leading me right to the line for free grilled cheese. FeelGood SB was the mastermind behind the fresh and delicious grilled cheese that soon filled my stomach. The sandwiches were a part of their “Ending World Hunger, One Grilled Cheese at a Time” campaign that regularly helps to fundraise for partnering organizations who are working to build sustainable projects in developing countries around the world. It was a perfect way to leave both my stomach and my heart happy.
Finishing my grilled cheese, I made my way one tent over to the Isla Vista Food Co-op. Primarily providing information on the community collaboration that comes with joining a co-op, the Isla Vista Food Co-op also offered a chance to spin a wheel and answer questions for a chance to win coupons and essentials from the Co-op.
Right alongside the tent was another for the A.S. Food Bank, a personal favorite of mine as of late. The A.S. Food Bank not only offered Nutri-Grain bars in exchange for liking their Facebook page, but they allowed everyone to go home with a bag of potatoes, kale, lettuce, tomatoes and oranges. The A.S. Food Bank, of course, also offers free food distribution on the second floor of the UCen every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Finishing up the more food-geared tents, I made my way over to the various tables set up around the perimeter of the park. In attendance were: UC Global Food Initiative, Department of Public Worms, Student Health, Gaucho Certified Farmers Market, UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative, Women, Gender & Social Equity Department, Educational Opportunity Program, CalFresh, Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division, Isla Vista Tenants Union, Transfer Student Center, Zero Waste Committee and Swipe Out Hunger. While most of the organizations and campus resources primarily offered fliers and information regarding help they can provide students, a few offered buttons, stickers, candy and other fun goodies. The Department of Public Worms, for example, was handing out rosemary and succulents, while Student Health allowed for those in attendance to pick from an assortment of helpful items such as flashlights. CalFresh, on the other hand, was unique in that it provided information concerning the application process, as well as an opportunity for students to set up appointments to get started.
Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for the entirety of the event and watch the speeches and performances. For those that stayed, they witnessed Aaron Ableman, Ocil Herrejon, Laura Lora, Osunkoya Bryant, Unique Vance, Rose Houska and a representative from Swipe Out Hunger.
All in all, this event was a good experience and one worth considering for any student. It allowed for students to have access to resources all in one location and learn a little more about what it means to become a food activist.