When Stony Brook University reopened Southampton College with a focus on sustainability, it seemed only a matter of time before faculty and students dedicated to healing the oceans and building green cities would turn their attention to food. Now, with a regular food film series, an active garden club and plans to introduce gastroliteracy to the Riverhead school district, the college is poised to play a leading role in the region’s good food movement.
“The purpose is to advocate for campus, community and planetary food issues,” says Kathleen Furey, the Stony Brook Southampton student who founded the Food for All club now at the center of the school’s foodie foment. With 30 members, including faculty and staff from both the Southampton and main university campuses, the club recently talked food-service budgets and brainstormed alternatives to what’s currently dished out. “We had vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians,” says Furey, “and all these -arians around who felt like they had few choices.” Members have been pushing for eclectic salads, tasty vegetarian fare and more ethnic eats.
But this isn’t just about toothsome fare. It’s part and parcel of the “permeable campus” approach that encourages students to pursue real-world problem solving, says Valerie M. Scopaz, director of community relations at Stony Brook Southampton. The school’s new executive chef met with the Long Island Farm Bureau to find produce vendors. The Hallockville National Historic Farm and Museum will host students who want to get their hands in the dirt. Club member Adam Meier spent his spring break visiting edible schoolyard projects in the Bay Area of California, gathering ideas the club hopes to share with town and school district officials throughout the East End. And the club held public screenings of The World According to Monsanto and Food, Inc. in the Avram Theatre.
“There’s nothing we don’t affect with our food,” says Furey, who envisions a weekly student shuttle to a local farm stand, a fall “food-in,” and occasional cropmobbing (a sort of smart-phone assisted barn-raising). “If we fix our food system we can really fix all these other systems simultaneously.”