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Food and Dining

UCLA Student Food Collective networks, tries to build coalition with local colleges

The UCLA Student Food Collective hosted students from eight different universities this past weekend for a few days of networking, art and many a home-cooked meal.

The gathering, called “Fall Convergence,” was the first of its kind, and included workshops on subjects such as urban gardening in Los Angeles and sustainability. Students from universities such as Cal State Los Angeles and California Polytechnic University came together to hear guest lectures from various organizations such as the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, and LA Green Grounds and Anne McKnight, a visiting assistant professor of the UCLA Asian Languages and Cultures department.

“The workshops were really eye-opening for new ideas, and enlightening on problems you don’t really think about until you get to them. This weekend was especially helpful… in building our partnerships and just sharing our stories [with each other],” said Ashley Audycki, the student director of the UC Santa Barbara Student Food Collective.

The event will help build the foundation for the food collective network between the many universities of southern California, said Alyssa Lee, operations manager at the UCLA Student Food Collective.

“This cause is very interconnected. We’re constantly reaching out and talking with other campuses, and a lot of what we started on was modeled on other their food collectives, so we just want to help them out now,” said Lee, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student.

The gathering was very casual, with attendees meeting to chat over home-cooked dinners and group art projects. In the photo above, a group of students collaborate to create a collage of food-related images. Art, Lee said, is one of the main ways the group hopes to relay messages about sustainability to the UCLA community.

The collective, founded in 2011, says its mission is to bring wholesome food to UCLA through a student-run grocery store, while also promoting food education on sustainability, urban gardening, local farms and food culture through Los Angeles art and culture.

“What’s lacking on campus is affordable good food. We’re lucky to have better food than many universities, but I think that — across campuses — students are becoming more aware about the health, inequity and sustainability issues that surround their food,” said co-founder and collective project director Shaydanay Urbani. “It’s a national trend, and a student food co-op could fill that niche here at UCLA.”

Urbani said the collective plans to open a student-run grocery store in 2013 or 2014. To stay updated on group’s projects, check out their Facebook page.

By Hong Chen, Daily Bruin contributor.

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