University Housing
Students harvesting crops

Programming Involving Food

Healthy Meal

Purpose: to encourage the use of organic foods, reusable dishware, and foods with less packaging or processing

Materials: Necessary ingredients to prepare a full meal in the hall kitchen. Have residents bring their own dishes. Appropriate dishware and utensils.

Procedure: Have the residents participate in the cooking of the meal. As you cook, discuss the benefits of buying organic, choosing food with less packaging, buying
local food, and buying unprocessed food (i.e. fresh fruits and veggies).

Helpful Hints:

  • Purchase as much local food as possible.
  • Create a sign up for the meal
  • Be sure to choose something you are comfortable cooking. You don’t want to spend all of that time on an experiment that goes terribly wrong and end up with hungry residents.

    Bring Your Own Dish Night

    Purpose: to laud the benefits of reusing, especially dishware, in lieu of disposables.

    Materials: A meal, snacks, or sundae fixings. Appropriate utensils.

    Procedure: Have students bring their own dishes to the program. Dole out food or sundaes. Have a brief discussion that highlights the following information: what is Recycle Mania? How can we as a hall earn points? Why is it important to reuse dishware? What is sustainability (perpetual and cooperative environmental, social, and economic systems)?

    Helpful Hints: This is a great kick-off event.

    Cultural Feast

    Purpose: to help residents think about hunger stratification, experience food from other cultures, and to laud the benefits of reusing, especially dishware.

    Materials: Food to prepare homemade dishes, reusable colored plates(three colors), reusable cups and utensils, beverages.


    • Find residents/RAs/Eco- reps/Complex Directors who are willing to cook a food unique to their culture (this could be by region, ethnic background, or any culture with a unique style of food).
    • Distribute the colored plates (should be three different colors). Explain that each color stands for a different level of wealth, and that the different levels are afforded different access to food. Have the residents take food according to their plate color.
      • One group gets to take anything they want, and as much as they want.
      • One group gets to take any dishes they want, but only get one small scoop of each.
      • The final group must choose one dish and only gets one small scoop (don’t worry, you’ll let them eat more later)
    • Read the following information to the residents as they eat their meals.
      • High Income Group- you represent the 15 percent of the world’s population with a per capita income of $9,300 or more. You are fortunate enough to be able to afford a nutritious daily diet. As a group, you consume 70 percent of all the grain grown in the world, most of it in the form of grain-fed meat. Since most of you exceed your daily requirement of calories, you face health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
      • Middle Income Group-you represent roughly 30 percent of the world’s population. You earn between $750 and $9,300 a year. The levels of access and security you enjoy vary greatly. You are the folks who live on the edge. For many, it would take losing only one harvest to drought, or a serious illness, to throw you into poverty.
      • Low Income Group-you represent the majority of the world’s population –roughly 55 percent. Your average income is less than $750 a year – about $2 a day – although many of you earn much less. Every day is a struggle to meet your family’s basic needs. Finding food, water and shelter can consume your entire day. For many of you women, it would not be uncommon to have to walk five to 10 miles every day to get water, spend several more hours working in the fields, and of course taking care of the children. Many of you are frequently hungry. It is quite likely that you don’t get the minimum number of calories your hardworking life requires.
    • Lead a discussion using the following prompts:
      • What did we just experience? What did you observe about your reactions and the reactions of those around you?
      • How did you feel as you went through the food line? As you ate your food? What feelings stick out as positive ones? Negative ones? How did it feel to be in each of the different wealth levels?
      • What did you think about the exercise? Why did we give different amounts of food to different people? What does hunger stratification have to do with sustainability? How do you define sustainability (perpetual and cooperative environmental, social, and economic systems)? Why did we use reusable plates and utensils? What is the most important message this activity is trying to communicate?
      • What can you do with this new information? What action will you take, if any?
    • Enjoy the rest of the food, letting those who didn’t get enough to go back for seconds of any portion.

    Helpful Hints:

    • This activity can get pretty intense for some individuals. Be sure to be sensitive to this while facilitating.
    • There may be additional questions/comments that need to be addressed. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the facilitation script to address something important.
    • Don’t forget to make the link to sustainability…while this may seem more like a social justice activity, social justice is an integral part of sustainability and must be understood before the realization of a sustainable world.

University Housing
200 Goodhue Hall
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater


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