Food sustainability intern works to promote Green Campaign

Nutrition major Kennedy Profaizer is Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s first intern for the Food Sustainability Internship Network. (Photo courtesy of SIUE)

Use a metal straw. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Shop local. These are things that will help make our planet more sustainable, according to Kennedy Profaizer, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s intern for the Food to University Internship Network.

“Sustainability is important, because lives depend on it,” said Profaizer, a senior majoring in nutrition. “We are the first generation to experience overcrowding. If we don’t take small steps in the right direction, we’ll have bigger consequences.”

This is the first year that SIUE has had an intern with the Food to University Internship Network, a project supported by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and the St. Louis Higher Education Sustainability Consortium, of which SIUE is a member.

Profaizer’s work consisted of creating a sustainability awareness campaign for SIUE Dining Services.

“I worked with Melissa McEldowney of Dining Services and made a food sustainability brochure,” noted Profaizer, who wants to become a dietician. “She wrote about Dining Services part in food sustainability. The brochure also includes information about food sustainability and how students can do their part.”

Profaizer listed ways to reduce your food footprint including:

  •     Eat high-nutrient foods
  •     Eat just enough
  •     Eat seasonally
  •     Eat organic
  •     Eat more plants

Profaizer is staffing a table at Springboard during June to pass out the brochures and other

information, answer questions and get sustainability ideas from students, faculty and staff.

“There has been some interest in having a compost at SIUE,” she offered. “Composting is a process to recycle food scraps into a soil conditioner. It would be great for gardening. Then others just wanted to see SIUE do more in the area of sustainability.”

“One thing we could do that would be quick and easy,” Profaizer added, “is to have signs around campus like, ‘Think Green.’”

Profaizer believes people would do more in the area of sustainability, if they better understood it and its benefits.

“Sustainability is doing what we can to continue our current standard of living. We do not have a limitless supply of water or cattle,” said Profaizer, who has been a pescatarian since 2013. “People don’t realize how much water and land it takes to feed cattle in order to produce one pound of meat. If people didn’t eat meat for two days out of the week that would be a sustainable step in the right direction.”

Profaizer plans to continue her food sustainability awareness campaign this fall.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment convenes the St. Louis Farm to University Intern Network (FUIN) which brings together students and staff from universities in the St. Louis region, with the goal of working together to increase local food purchasing. This program was launched in fall 2018, with SIUE, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University and Harris-Stowe State University as the initial universities in the network. Missouri Botanical Gardens, as the leading organization for the St. Louis Higher Education Sustainability Consortium, also plays a support role in the network.