Healthy Alternatives: Conn Student Works to Bring Local Food to Cro

Conn is renowned for its commitment to the environment, so when Sybil Bullock ’14 became the campus Greenpeace Coordinator, she had trouble figuring out exactly how to make a contribution. It was only when she was asked, “If you could change absolutely anything at Conn, what would it be?” that she found her answer: the availability of healthy and tasty sustainable food.

Bullock lives in Washington, D.C., where she first became involved with the Greenpeace organization. After working there last summer, she decided to continue her connection by becoming the Connecticut College Greenpeace Coordinator. The job requires Greenpeace training and workshops in order to organize a campaign or work with a preexisting campaign that is tailored to promoting environmental programs on campus. Bullock had originally considered joining a Harris food initiative already underway, but instead decided to independently pursue a new project: one focusing on providing locally grown foods in Cro.

Bullock is proposing the establishment of a weekly Local Business Market on campus featuring fresh produce, vegetables, dairy and snacks from nearby businesses. The project would provide students with the opportunity to purchase seasonal delicacies not always available in the dining halls. The variety of locally grown products would also serve as a healthy alternative to the foods in Oasis, the Cro outlet for a midnight snack.

Ideally, Sybil would partner with local food cooperatives dedicated to preserving the environment and promoting healthy lifestyles within the community. This would help to bring consumers closer to the source of their foods, educating them on the benefits of eating organically.

“Today, that’s a huge problem. You buy stuff in the grocery store and you have no idea how it was made, where it was made or what chemicals are in it,” Bullock explained.

Bullock is striving to establish a strong relationship with these local food co-ops in order to pursue her project for Conn. If it is successful, 100 percent of the profit from the Conn market would go to her partner co-ops.

Bullock hopes that the success of her project will enhance the student community in ways other than just providing healthy food alternatives. Ideally, the presence of locally owned businesses on campus will foster a relationship with the New London community. It is common sentiment that the college and its town are far from amiable; both entities tend to hold negative predispositions about the other. Many members of Fiddleheads are volunteers in the New London area. Exposure to such people can enlighten students to events happening off-campus.

“I’d really love to see Conn and New London connect more. I’d love to get students to go off campus more, really see this community that we’re a part of and conversely have New Londoners connect more with students,” said Bullock.

By cultivating interactions between locals and the Conn student body, the market could be incredibly influential in strengthening the school’s relations with the town.

Another key benefit of Bullock’s market proposal is that it offers students an opportunity to do a portion of their grocery shopping. Many students at Conn who are not on the full meal plan struggle to get off campus to grocery shop frequently. Other than at the dining halls, it’s difficult for students to find a healthy meal on campus. Oasis offers a small selection of wraps and salads, but there are very limited healthy options overall. Bullock hopes that the installation of a weekly market can aid students by being an on-campus source for groceries, stimulating a thriving student consumer base for locally grown foods.

Many are hopeful for Bullock’s success, craving the availability of fresh dairy, tasty fruits, seasonal vegetables and wholesome snacks right within our own student center. If you want to see something specific available at the market, all you have to do is join Bullock’s Facebook group “Conn Coll Food Choices!” and write a comment detailing what you want. This way, Bullock can gauge the amount of potential interest on campus. Suggestions so far have included fresh mozzarella cheese, pesto and seasonal fruits like mangoes, peaches and strawberries. The success of the plan is dependent on student demand, so hopefully the market generates substantial business! This multi-faceted project is beneficial to the New London community, the environment and us. Why not take advantage?

According to Bullock, “If this food stand/local business market goes well, it could be a way of educating students who may not be that aware about alternative food systems, alternative agriculture, local farming, organic farming and different ways of eating.”