USG Ingredients for Change
CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA member Mahmoud Nofal reflects on the Universities at Shady Grove’s Ingredients for Change civic engagement event on October 28 with Celebrity Chef Jose Andres:
It was a pleasure to host Chef Andres at the Universities at Shady Grove last week. The Ingredients for Change civic engagement event, at which the Chef gave a powerful speech, highlighted USG’s and Montgomery County’s commitment to finding actionable solutions to the problem of food insecurity in our community. Leaders from across the campus and the county attended and were eager to discuss how USG has worked to increase food access and what is planned for the future.
Prior to the event, I had the opportunity to give Chef Andres a tour of USG’s Mobile Market pop-up pantry and explain how the University addresses food insecurity through our on-campus pantry, Grover Essentials. Eager to help out, Chef Andres quickly started helping the volunteers by handing food out to those in line while greeting eager fans.
I took the opportunity to explain to Chef Andres some of the reasons for operating Mobile Market and Grover Essentials, including the data that revealed their necessity as campus services. He was taken aback by the fact that as many as 36% of undergraduate students at USG experience food insecurity, according to a recent internal survey. This alarming number corresponds to the rate of students experiencing food insecurity reported in peer-reviewed scientific studies.
As Chef Andres continues to impact lives and feed people the world over, all of us interested in increasing food security at USG will continue to take inspiration from his efforts and study the valuable lessons he imparts. Chef Andres’ visit was an excellent way to raise awareness of issues of food access in the area and will lead to new connections with community leaders at USG and around Montgomery County.