Get Involved: Student Groups at Friedman

by Allison Mikita

From tomato canning to happy hour, Friedman students come together in several student-led organizations to engage fellow students and surrounding communities.  Highlighted here are four active groups that help strengthen the Friedman student community through their work, events, and inspiring collaborations.

Slow Food Tufts

Skill shares, film screenings, and campus sustainability are just a few items on the Slow Food Tufts agenda.  The group is a chapter of Slow Food International, which seeks to “defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events and initiatives.”

Asta Schuette, a 2nd year Agriculture, Food, and Environment (AFE) student, says the Tufts Chapter was born in 2008 after a trip to Italy for a Slow Food conference.  “Students expressed an interest in joining Slow Food as the values of the organization fit well with many people at the Friedman School.  A key group of us met and started the Slow Food chapter.”

The group hosts student-led culinary workshops called skill-shares; thus far, students have learned how to can tomatoes, cook Thai dishes, and roast coffee.  At Trivia Night, students and faculty are invited to share potluck fare and test their food knowledge with agriculture, food, and nutrition trivia questions written by Friedman professors. The group also worked with fellow Friedman students to plant the Friedman Garden and hosted a cheese-tasting workshop at Formaggio Kitchen, where they visited the oldest cheese cave in Cambridge.  Slow Food is looking forward to hosting a homebrew beer competition in the late spring, and field trips to local farms and processing facilities next semester.

The group meets several times per semester. The Events, Social Justice, Campus Greening and Fundraising subcommittees meet more frequently.  To learn more, check out the Slow Food Tufts Blog.

Tufts Food System Planning Coalition

The distance between the Medford and Boston Tufts Campuses can seem long, especially during rush hour on the T, but this group of students ensures that the two campuses are connected.  The Tufts Food System Planning Coalition (FSPC) seeks to enhance the relationship between the Friedman School and the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) in Medford.  To lessen the gap, they even rotate their meeting spots between the campuses.

Mari Pierce-Quinonez, a 2nd year AFE and UEP student started the FSPC in 2009. “I started it because there are so many policy connections between the food system and urban planning, and it made sense to try to promote dialogue between the two schools,” she says.

FSPC is planning an ongoing garden-raising calendar with Somerville High School and the Columbus High School in South Medford, in which the garden-raisings will begin planting at the schools and then rotate to residential gardens to plant vegetables.

“By bringing the two schools together we hope to broaden the educational opportunities provided at each school, and eventually work on inter-disciplinary projects together that address the food system,” Quinonez adds.  Group and community events as well as related links and articles on the FSPC Calendar.

Jumbo’s Kitchen
A blender, garbanzo beans, chopped vegetables and a classroom full of children—a possible science experiment?  No, it is Dawn Undurraga’s, 2nd year Nutrition Communication student, favorite memory of cooking in the classroom, in which the class “erupted into a celebration of hummus and veggies.”

“The kids were so excited to try the hummus, and when they did–they loved it…I’ve never seen anyone gulp down so many vegetables with such enthusiasm,” she says.  Undurraga volunteers with Jumbo’s Kitchen, a student group that teaches basic cooking skills and promotes nutrition in three Dorchester elementary schools.  Jumbo’s Kitchen was founded in 2008 by two medical students in collaboration with the DotWell Organization to address healthcare disparities in the Dorchester community.  The group works with three schools each year, teaching children basic nutrition concepts and how to prepare healthy snacks.  Jumbo’s Kitchen also provides Friedman students with an opportunity to apply their nutrition skills and knowledge and to gain experience working with children and a near-by community.

Classes are held weekly on Friday afternoons.  Jumbo’s Kitchen always welcomes volunteers. Read more about the group and sign up at Jumbo’s Kitchen and check out the Sprout’s feature article:  Fun with Jumbo’s Kitchen

The Friedman Student Council

The Friedman Student Council stands alone among Friedman’s student groups in that becoming a Council member requires student nomination and election.  However, one would be hard-pressed to find a Friedman student that has never been a part of the Friedman Student Council’s activities.  The Council hosts a monthly happy hour, bake-offs, fundraisers, apple picking, and ski trips.  The Council also organizes Town Hall meetings, Interdisciplinary Forums, and a community service day.  In addition, the Council aids in funding film events, student research conferences, and student-group projects.

Student Council serves as the students’ collective voice, to serve as a liaison between the graduate student body, and the Friedman faculty, administration, boards, alumni, and other graduate organizations.  The Council also seeks to promote the active involvement of students in the Friedman community, through funding and organizing student events.

For the past two years, the Council has accepted student-funding proposals to support student-led initiatives in the Friedman community.  According to Rebecca Boulos, Student Council President and 2nd year PhD student, Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, “The number and variety of funding proposals we receive speaks to the level of engagement and dedication that the entirety of the Friedman School has to nutrition issues and student life.  From what I know of other Councils in the area, we are unique in that way and I think students should be proud [of the Council and themselves].”

The AFE and Josiah Quincy Elementary School Garden-Based Learning Project

Since 2006, the AFE program has partnered with the Josiah Quincy Elementary School, a public school in Chinatown to cultivate the benefits of garden-based learning.  AFE students teach hands-on, interactive lessons that include songs about plant parts and decomposition, seed plantings and more.  This spring, the project will expand into an after school program open to all Friedman students interested in teaching at the Friedman Garden.

For more information, contact Tara Fiechter-Russo, and Kathleen Stewart, 2nd year AFE students and student program coordinator.

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