Wednesday, November 16, 2011

letter to admin - need extra sets of eyes

Dr. Burley told me to post the letter to the admin so far to show to class. I only got to change a few things.. changed the survey/petition facts to bullet points and changed "I" in the beginning to "we." I made the margins smaller too but it's still a little over a page. Any suggestions for things to take out/edit?


Dear President John Crain,

            My name is Bonnie May, and I’m writing to you on behalf of Reconnect, our environmental and sustainability student group on campus. 

We are writing to you to propose an exciting change for our school that will improve the image and community of the university as a whole, as well as fulfill our bold mission statement: “… to lead the educational, economic, and cultural development of southeast Louisiana.”  This change combines all three of these elements, as well as others, and it is one simple change: Food.

The Real Food Challenge ( is a national campaign where students work together with their campus dining representatives, faculty, and small farmers to increase access to local, sustainable, and “real” food at their universities.  This task has numerous economic, educational, social, health, and environmental benefits. Supporting small local farmers puts more money into the local economy than purchasing from industrial farmers from far away would, which would allow our university to support the local community it belongs to.  Food that is driven shorter distances also maintains more of its nutrients, is fresher and tastier, and consumes fewer fossil fuels.  Furthermore, allowing students to get to know where their food comes from and the farmers that grow the food allows students to gain a stronger sense of community and pride for their school.  Creating this simple change would provide an applied, hands-on learning experience for students where they discover how food is connecting to all of these issues.

The Real Food Challenge’s overall goal is to shift one billion dollars of university food budget money to community-based, sustainable, fair, and humane food by the year 2020.  As of now, over 300 colleges already have their own farms and other farm-to-cafeteria initiatives, and about $35 million dollars of annual university food budgets have already been shifted towards obtaining more local, sustainable, and fair food.  Here are some examples of schools who are achieving “Real Food” successes:
·               Pacific University in Oregon purchases local cage-free eggs, local grass-fed beef, fair trade products, and produce from local, sustainable farms.  
·               At Arizona State University, 35% of their food purchases are local. They also receive much of their food directly from farmers through monthly farmers markets and CSA’s (Community-Supported Agriculture).  
·               The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sources approximately 25% of its food from local farms.  They have won numerous awards for sustainability, earning an “A“in Food and Recycling on the College Sustainability Report Card.  

There are many other examples of schools that have successfully shifted toward acquiring more real food and honor small farmers proudly.  We would like Southeastern Louisiana University to be one of them.  So far, there haven’t been any universities in Louisiana have succeeded in the Real Food Challenge. Southeastern Louisiana University would be the first in the state, and a leader in the region.  With Louisiana’s rich agricultural history and long growing seasons, it would only be logical for our school to reap the benefits of having fresher, healthier, and more sustainable local food that puts money back into our local economy.

On October 24th, Reconnect and Dr. Burley’s applied Environmental Sociology graduate class hosted a farmers market for National Food Day. Students were able to purchase fresh vegetables picked that very morning, less than 150 miles away from southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. The farmers that participated in Food Day were the Pointe Coupee Farmers Cooperative and the India Springs Farmers Cooperative. Students were very enthusiastic about this event, and many expressed interest in having more farmers markets on campus or having more local food in the Caymen cafeteria.
·      Of the 274 students surveyed, 230 of them said they would be willing to pay slightly more for more local produce in the cafeteria.
·      226 said they would attend a regular farmers market hosted at Southeastern. 
·      We have also collected 1079 signatures from students who are interested in Southeastern Louisiana University getting more real food on campus.

We have many students on campus who think this is a great idea for Southeastern, and we hope that you do too and support it.  Something as simple as changing food can have a big positive impact on our school and on our university as a whole.

Thank you for your time, consideration, and hopefully your support.


Bonnie May, president of Reconnect


I got the sheets from Bonnie and tried to contact Jamie Womack who has additional sheets from sigma sigma sigma. I am still enjoying my sweet potatoes and honey which I purchased at our farmers market Watched the webinar and it was a first. I was excited when my question was read and got to see results immediately from this process.

Week of November 9th through 15th

Hello all!

I picked up the sign up sheets from the lab where Bonnie left them, however, Danity did not go to class on Thursday night. So, I gave the sheets to Benny on Thursday. That is all I have to report.


This week

Sent the letter to Bonnie for her to send out once all the emails are in.

Some people have gotten back about the Turtle Cove thing. Seems most are flexible. I would personally prefer the weekdays after finals.

Hi Guys

I know I have been out of sorts for the past week, please forgive me. Big truck insurance companies and honesty really don't mix. :)
With that being said, I will return the e-mailing lists that are still in my possession to Bonnie since the signatures are all counted. Other than that, I don't have much to report.

Farmers meeting soon!

Sorry for the late blog. Yesterday was mah BIRFDAY!

So, good news! We have a date for the meeting with the farmers. Not all of them will be available, but a good amount of them will be: this tuesday, Nov. 22nd at 11am. If need be, the time can be adjusted, but Dr. Burley said that would be a good time for him. I invited the Reconnect members too. I hope some of you all will be able to attend as well.

Sooo, I guess I should email Joseph and Brittany from Campus dining? I'll do that today!

The webinar was a little late, but it was very informative. I took notes. The first speaker had some great marketing ideas for farmers markets and some good things to consider if/as our farmers market gets bigger.. or it may not, and just stay small. The second speaker was my favorite, though, because he talked about the social and cultural aspects of farmers markets and how their farmers markets (Fondy Foods) served as a healing experience for their farmers. I think the social/cultural aspects (especially having minority farmers) are very important to consider, and I look forward to watching/observing and talking to people in the next farmers markets! But in addition to that, our farmers market will serve as a really important source for local, healthy food.. this will be the only farmers market in Hammond, right at  SELU!

I got the thank you letter for the RFC signature email list from Sole, thank you Sole! I've sent it out. I combined all of the contact groups into one contact group.

Now I just need to tweak that letter to the president!

I also talked to the Reconnecters about the Turtle Cove outing (they got Sole's email too) and they're super, super excited. I can't wait!

-- Bonnie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Week of November 9 - 15

Hey guys,

This week has been kinda slow, and I've been preparing for my papers and finals. With that being said we did have a webinar to attend, and I will speak on that for a moment. It started a little late, but it was full of valuable information. One thing that I really enjoyed was the idea that attracting vendors and retaining vendors should look at more than just economics; it should look at social, human, and natural sources. Asking vendors about their experiences by using a survey is the same concept that we did at the farmers market. I don't believe our farmers market is at a stage where it could support more than one vendor (if we would even want to), but I do believe it is always a good idea to gauge the farmers about their experiences both economic and social.
One of the major things that the first speaker spoke about that I liked was the idea of specializing your product line: Become a new, creative type of market (new kinds of market that work from your own community or locality with specialty items that work with your culture; ex. seafood or health items). I believe this is a goal we need to strive for. Personally, I think we kinda met this goal already by having local-area farmers sell local produce at our farmers market, but this is always something we can push for even more.
The second speaker spoke a lot about the cultural and social aspects of farmers markets and the farmers in general, and one key point that I took from his presentation was that with the evaluation of farmers, don’t look at economic “American” viewpoint, but look at the farmers culturally and see if they can reconnect to their own culturally traditions; need to look at social aspects of farmers. I think this is one thing we need to do every time we put on a farmers market is to evaluate the farmers and how they felt the event went beyond financially. I would love to have their input in evaluating our project, and how they felt their social needs were met by this project or what was lacking.
Overall, I had to leave the webinar once the questions started because I had to go do my field experience for my education classes, but it was a pretty cool experience! I've had a great time in this class with all of you, and I just want to thank everyone for helping me out during my first semester in grad school, and what has been the toughest semester in my personal life. Thank you guys so much, and it has been an honor to work with all of you!

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