My experience working for the Hungry Harvest initiative has been an interesting one, largely because it entailed things that I had not initially expected. Who would have thought that securing ten subscribers to the service would require so much determination? Nevertheless, it was a positive experience overall, and I am glad to have been a part of it.
I greatly enjoyed making marketing considerations for Hungry Harvest. From designing marketing material to brainstorming actionable tactics, I felt that I was in my element and was contributing to the group’s ultimate objective of establishing the program on campus. This portion of my contribution also served as practice for some of the things my professional career may include.
I also enjoyed my team members very much. Stephanie and Nusrat were ideal group-mates, always maintaining communication, working together and staying positive.
Something that frustrated me about working on the Hungry Harvest project was the limited communication we had with CEO Evan Lutz. Though I understand that he is likely very busy, I was frustrated because this is ultimately his company, and it would have been great to receive additional insight from him early on. However, he did eventually become a great help, sending informational documents, advice, and images that we could use in an effort to bring the service to UMBC.
The other element that was particularly frustrating was the struggle to formally establish a drop-off site for potential subscribers. Initially feeling confident that the Interdisciplinary Studies department would serve as that location, my group and I were not overly worried about that objective. However, eventually deciding that the Apartment Community Center would better serve as the drop-off location, we encountered several difficulties and discovered new individuals that had to be contacted very frequently. Considering how critical this piece was to moving forward with the program, it definitely became frustrating after a while. It was certainly an unexpected obstacle, one that we had not given much consideration to at first.
All-in-all, I learned quite a bit from this experience. I learned that bringing something new to a college campus requires a lot of tactical brainstorming and research (more than I had originally expected). I was also reminded of how difficult it can be to get a hold of busy company executives.
If I was to give advice to future students working on the Hungry Harvest project, I would tell them that it is important to set specific goals, identify obstacles, and take care of them before getting ahead of yourself. I recommend that they take the time to research and plan their approach, and also keep the ultimate objective in mind: to give students a healthy, affordable, and convenient alternative to other food options on campus.
My understanding of food justice has been deepened over the course of the semester. I had not realized just how interdisciplinary food justice is, and I have become much more cognizant and interested in these issues. The hands-on classroom approach also gave me an appreciation for people that are doing work in the field, because I now understand how difficult it can be to see immediate results. I started to consider how a college campus may be a borderline “food desert”, and it resonated based on my own dining experiences here. I was particularly interested in seeing food justice disparities being illustrated locally in Baltimore. It was eye-opening to see how strongly food security, race, class, and residential infrastructure tie together. It was particularly useful to hear the history of how Baltimore got to this point. Overall, my experience working with Hungry Harvest and learning about food justice was memorable and I hope to contribute to food justice in the future.