Student Opportunity Grants recipients announced

Kitchen herbs
Kitchen herbs

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LEXINGTON, Ky., -

The Food Connection at UK has announced the recipients of this year’s Student Opportunity Grants. Covering the gamut from the classroom to food-insecure areas in Lexington to Oaxaca, Mexico, eight projects received a total of $40,200.

The income of a $1 million Aramark endowment to promote student opportunities in food studies funds the grant program, which is in its second year. The endowment is a result of the agreement between the University of Kentucky and Aramark to run UK Dining.

The Food Connection gave priority to projects directly related to food or food systems that focused on experiential education, community engagement, undergraduate student research, activities linked to dissertation work, professional development and co-curricular activities.

“Through this endowment, UK Dining has created a wonderful opportunity for UK students to engage more deeply in food studies, expanding their horizons for a career or for public service,” said Scott Smith, The Food Connection faculty director.

The eight projects that received 2016 grant funds are:

Experiential Nutrition and Culinary Education: Connecting Intergenerational Audiences in Food Insecure Areas. This project brings together community mentors and local youth within food insecure areas for an experiential education program. The curriculum “Cook. Eat. Grow.” seeks to engage “junior sous chefs”in cooking and nutrition education. The program is a collaboration between the UK Department of Community and Leadership Development in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the community organizations FoodChain and GleanKY.

Coffee Rust Outbreak in Oaxaca, Mexico: Livelihood and Environmental Impacts. The spread of coffee rust disease has created a crisis in many of the most important coffee farming regions of the developing world. Traveling to the farms around Oaxaca, Mexico, this summer, anthropology undergraduate student Natalie St. Clair will investigate the economic and environmental consequences of the epidemic on smallholder farmers.

Food Pathways in Ancient and Modern Times: An Anthropology Course. In this course students trace the food pathways of plants and animals from prehistoric into modern times. They employ ethnobotanical sources to track the uses of plants and animals among and between indigenous groups focusing mainly on those of the eastern woodlands and southeastern United States. The class also incorporates comparisons with historic period food pathways in Kentucky.

Experiential Learning and Presenting Undergraduate Research. The Food Connection is continuing its partnership with and sponsorship of Campus Kitchens at UK and Sustainable Solutions to Overcome Poverty, also known as SSTOP Hunger. To date, Campus Kitchens has recovered more than 5,000 pounds of food, created more than 4,000 meals and served about 300 clients per month. SSTOP Hunger’s student leadership has propelled UK into becoming a leader in the international organization Universities Fighting World Hunger. The Student Opportunity Grant will support student participation in and presentations at national meetings of these organizations.

Undergraduate Internship Opportunities with the Food Systems Innovation Center. The student interns are immersed in research and development projects of the Food Systems Innovation Center, which assists small and medium food producers and entrepreneurs with food safety and processing technology and provides access to consultation and training to address the wider ranging challenges of bringing a food product to market. Areas of work emphasized this year include pre-and post-harvest safety methods in the field, and educational strategies for value-added, Food and Drug Administration-regulated foods.

Growing Fresh Stop Markets through Neighborhood Leadership. Fresh Stop Markets are a successful model for bringing fresh, local produce at affordable prices to low-income neighborhoods. UK students and staff will connect with north Lexington residents to increase local fresh food access for limited-resource residents. Working within the framework of Fresh Stop Markets in north Lexington, the team will offer expanded opportunities for leadership development.

Sustainable Production of Living Organic Container-Grown Kitchen Herbs. This project’s goal is to develop an organic production system for market quality container-grown kitchen herbs. Two undergraduate students, under the direction of faculty and staff in the Department of Horticulture, will evaluate production methods including fertilization and seeding. The product will be test marketed at the UK Horticulture Club’s weekly campus market.

Food Systems, Food Justice and Race: Innovation in Instruction. UK faculty and students in the departments of Community and Leadership Development, Geography, and African American and Africana Studies will join with community leaders and the Lexington Fresh Stop program to develop a multi-disciplinary course, the goals of which include developing knowledgeable and engaged citizen-students and community leaders who are prepared to address issues related to food systems with a level of proficiency with regard to race.

The purpose of The Food Connection at UK, which is administered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is to promote a healthy, sustainable food economy. It serves as a hub and information source on campus and as a sourcing tool to help UK Dining meet its contractual obligations to supply locally produced food.

Contact: 

Lilian Brislen, 859-218-4987; Scott Smith, 859-333-0980

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