2018 Community Engagement Celebration Day

Presentation Type

Poster

Project Summary

Introduction: Two sections of UNI Cornerstone worked with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and Rod Library to gain a better understanding of food insecurity in the Cedar Valley during the academic year 2016-2017. Students engaged in research related to food insecurity, and presented informative speeches on their topics. Students then completed training at the Food Bank, and they volunteered sorting, delivering, and serving food. Students organized a campus-wide food drive, incentivizing different halls to participate and conducted a campus advocacy campaign on food insecurity. By the end of the semester, the students’ food drive had collected over 150 pounds of food and over 200 service hours, but most notably a greater understanding of food insecurity in their neighborhood. Objective: Cornerstone is a first-year experiential course at UNI that focuses on written and oral communication, civility, success in college, and critical thinking. Northeast Iowa Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, and serves sixteen counties in northeast Iowa through its distribution center in Waterloo. Cornerstone and Northeast Iowa Food Bank partnered to meet the needs of both institutions. Through service-learning UNI students developed a greater understanding of food-insecurity, living wages, poverty, and food deserts. The Northeast Iowa Food Bank gained many new volunteers who not only volunteered at the Food Bank, but also created advocacy campaigns on campus, hosted a food drive, and gave back to their community. Students also created a video narrative of their volunteer experiences, which was shared on social media. Methods & Materials: Students began by meeting their community partner, the Northeast Iowa’s Food Bank Talent Recruiter, who was a guest speaker in the classes and discussed the work a Food Bank and Food Pantry. Next, students worked in five groups to research topics related to food insecurity. Group 1: Economic & Social Concerns in the U.S. Group 2: Hunger in the U.S.: What are the issues? Group 3: Food Pantries/Banks: What are the issues? Group 4: The Lost Connection: What are the issues? Group 5: Specific Food Insecurity Issues The guided library sessions designed and led by a Anne-Marie Gruber yielded a larger understanding of related complex issues, and helped students situate the issue of food insecurity with issues of economics and infrastructure. These sessions yielded surprising facts to students, such as: “1 in 8 Iowans is food insecure” according to (www.feedingamerica.org). Using the research, students delivered informative speeches on issues related to food insecurity: 1970s farm bill, food deserts, minimum wage, nutrition labels, rural food insecurity. Next, students used the think, feel, do model and decided on direct and advocacy based-service learning projects. With the coordinating help of Peer Mentors, fifty UNI freshmen went through training at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo, IA, and then volunteered in various programs such as food sorting, food service, the backpack program, and office work. Groups made tri-folds on food insecurity and presented the information in UNI’s Maucker Union. Students helped deliver food to families in North Cedar during the 2016 flood, and in Spring 2017 students organized a campus food drive that collected over 200 pounds of food. Results: Incorporating informed and critical service-learning in Cornerstone helped accomplish course goals related to research, writing, and civility. By the end of the year, students’ abilities to evaluate sources were stronger, as well as their ability to decipher meaning and application from the sources. Through the various steps of reflection and research, students wrote more and the writing ranged from personal response to critique to persuasive. Students reported not only enjoying the community partnership, but continuing the partnership well beyond the scope of the course. I found that a critical approach to service-learning, tasked my students with asking hard questions, and as an educator, asked me to focus on social responsibility, and the project created authentic, productive, and transformational learning.

Start Date

19-4-2018 9:00 AM

End Date

19-4-2018 10:30 AM

Event Host

UNI Office of Undergraduate Studies

Department

Department of Languages and Literatures

Award Category

Service Learning/Live Client Project Award (Curricular)

Award Category

Research-Based Project Award

Award Category

Commitment to Service Award (Faculty/Staff Only)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

File Format

application/pdf

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Apr 19th, 9:00 AM Apr 19th, 10:30 AM

Food Insecurity: From Research to Action

Introduction: Two sections of UNI Cornerstone worked with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and Rod Library to gain a better understanding of food insecurity in the Cedar Valley during the academic year 2016-2017. Students engaged in research related to food insecurity, and presented informative speeches on their topics. Students then completed training at the Food Bank, and they volunteered sorting, delivering, and serving food. Students organized a campus-wide food drive, incentivizing different halls to participate and conducted a campus advocacy campaign on food insecurity. By the end of the semester, the students’ food drive had collected over 150 pounds of food and over 200 service hours, but most notably a greater understanding of food insecurity in their neighborhood. Objective: Cornerstone is a first-year experiential course at UNI that focuses on written and oral communication, civility, success in college, and critical thinking. Northeast Iowa Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, and serves sixteen counties in northeast Iowa through its distribution center in Waterloo. Cornerstone and Northeast Iowa Food Bank partnered to meet the needs of both institutions. Through service-learning UNI students developed a greater understanding of food-insecurity, living wages, poverty, and food deserts. The Northeast Iowa Food Bank gained many new volunteers who not only volunteered at the Food Bank, but also created advocacy campaigns on campus, hosted a food drive, and gave back to their community. Students also created a video narrative of their volunteer experiences, which was shared on social media. Methods & Materials: Students began by meeting their community partner, the Northeast Iowa’s Food Bank Talent Recruiter, who was a guest speaker in the classes and discussed the work a Food Bank and Food Pantry. Next, students worked in five groups to research topics related to food insecurity. Group 1: Economic & Social Concerns in the U.S. Group 2: Hunger in the U.S.: What are the issues? Group 3: Food Pantries/Banks: What are the issues? Group 4: The Lost Connection: What are the issues? Group 5: Specific Food Insecurity Issues The guided library sessions designed and led by a Anne-Marie Gruber yielded a larger understanding of related complex issues, and helped students situate the issue of food insecurity with issues of economics and infrastructure. These sessions yielded surprising facts to students, such as: “1 in 8 Iowans is food insecure” according to (www.feedingamerica.org). Using the research, students delivered informative speeches on issues related to food insecurity: 1970s farm bill, food deserts, minimum wage, nutrition labels, rural food insecurity. Next, students used the think, feel, do model and decided on direct and advocacy based-service learning projects. With the coordinating help of Peer Mentors, fifty UNI freshmen went through training at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo, IA, and then volunteered in various programs such as food sorting, food service, the backpack program, and office work. Groups made tri-folds on food insecurity and presented the information in UNI’s Maucker Union. Students helped deliver food to families in North Cedar during the 2016 flood, and in Spring 2017 students organized a campus food drive that collected over 200 pounds of food. Results: Incorporating informed and critical service-learning in Cornerstone helped accomplish course goals related to research, writing, and civility. By the end of the year, students’ abilities to evaluate sources were stronger, as well as their ability to decipher meaning and application from the sources. Through the various steps of reflection and research, students wrote more and the writing ranged from personal response to critique to persuasive. Students reported not only enjoying the community partnership, but continuing the partnership well beyond the scope of the course. I found that a critical approach to service-learning, tasked my students with asking hard questions, and as an educator, asked me to focus on social responsibility, and the project created authentic, productive, and transformational learning.